Nick Saban Says College Football Is All About How Much Money Players Can Make Now

Nick Saban
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Sounds like Nick Saban had just about had enough.

Ever since the legendary Alabama coach announced back in January that he would be stepping down after 16 seasons as head coach for the Crimson Tide, there’s been plenty of rumors and speculation that’s popped up about why Saban would choose to walk away now.

Of course things have changed in college football over the past few years, so many (including Colorado head coach Deion Sanders) speculated that Saban was just sick of dealing with the new NIL and transfer portal era.

But Saban has remained relatively tight-lipped on his retirement, saying only that his age played a factor – although he certainly hasn’t slowed down any, spending his new vacation time boogie boarding and playing golf with 50 Cent and Travis Scott.

And he recently opened up with ESPN on his decision to step down from the job in Tuscaloosa.

Saban had reportedly been contemplating retirement since 2022, telling Bama athletic director Greg Byrne that it was going to be a year-to-year decision from that point on.

Then the 2023 season came along, and the Tide seemed to struggle early on in the season. They dropped a game to Texas in just the second week of the season, and were all but written off in the playoff conversation.

But as is usually the case, by the end of the season, Alabama was right there in the playoff picture, and a win over reigning two-time College Football Playoff champion Georgia put the Tide back in the playoffs in what was thought of as a “down” year for the perennial contenders.

Of course Alabama would then go on to lose to eventual champion Michigan in Rose Bowl, but the general feeling was that this Tide team had overachieved – a turnaround that Saban says he was proud of:

“We weren’t a very good team those first few weeks of the season, but it’s a credit to those kids how far they came. I’m not sure I’ve had a team that improved more over the course of the season.”

Something Saban wasn’t proud of, though, was how his team acted after the devastating overtime loss to Michigan in the CFP:

“I was really disappointed in the way that the players acted after the game. You gotta win with class. You gotta lose with class. We had our opportunities to win the game and we didn’t do it, and then showing your ass and being frustrated and throwing helmets and doing that stuff … that’s not who we are and what we’ve promoted in our program.”

And after meeting with his team back in Tuscaloosa once the season was over, it sounds like Saban grew even more frustrated with the way things were headed – not just in Alabama, but across college football:

“I thought we could have a hell of a team next year, and then maybe 70 or 80 percent of the players you talk to, all they want to know is two things: What assurances do I have that I’m going to play because they’re thinking about transferring, and how much are you going to pay me?

Our program here was always built on how much value can we create for your future and your personal development, academic success in graduating and developing an NFL career on the field.

“So I’m saying to myself, ‘Maybe this doesn’t work anymore, that the goals and aspirations are just different and that it’s all about how much money can I make as a college player?’ I’m not saying that’s bad. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that’s never been what we were all about, and it’s not why we had success through the years.”

So it sounds like everybody who thought the NIL and transfer portal chased Nick Saban out of college football weren’t too far off.

Things have changed quite a bit, and Saban was already nearing the end of his career. So why stick around and play games that you don’t like to play?

And it’s not like Saban is really going to be leaving college football: Right now, the networks are all competing for his services as an analyst, and if I had to guess, I’d say the chances we’ll be seeing Nick Saban on TV in football season are as close to 100% as they can get.

He just won’t have to worry about NIL or the transfer portal this year.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock