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Nick Saban apologizes to Jimbo Fisher after press conference, discusses NIL

The Alabama head coach took responsibility for what he said, but also called for changes to the current system while still seeing players make money.

Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks with Holly Rowe of ESPN during the College Football Playoff Championship held at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 10, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

After today’s wild press conference with Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban went on Sirius Radio to respond to Fisher’s allegations.

So The Nicktator backed down, but the allegations being made by former associates of Jimbo Fisher are just heating up. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I’m on Nick’s side here.

He was speaking to a group of boosters at his school. The same people he’ll need to create collectives and get NIL dollars to players to continue drawing the top recruiting classes going forward. Texas A&M had the best class, and their boosters did more to get kids in the door.

The legality of any NIL work being done right now varies widely from state-to-state, and there are (mostly feckless) NCAA rules to be at least cursorily acknowledged as well. It’s the wild west out in the recruiting streets, which means in the SEC those streets will be the wildest.

Saban probably should have used better language, but again this wasn’t an interview with a soft lens on ESPN. He was talking to donors and someone taped it. And the implication of what he was saying was correct, even if the actual language used wasn’t perfect.

Saying A&M “bought every player” only sounds bad if you’re a college football that’s so used to this being the third rail everyone knows is out there but no one touches publicly. But that thinking is so 2019, and just like every other industry in a capitalist society, employers and institutions are willing to pay for talent.

It was certainly clunky, but we’ll give Saban the benefit of the doubt here. Now Jimbo .. we’ll do him a favor and not link to the unverified allegations from players he’s recruited and coached that are flying presently. But people in glass houses might want to be careful.

Life, and hubris, comes at you fast in the SEC.