When it comes to player compensation, Alabama coach Nick Saban would much rather see an NFL model in college football than the current name, image and likeness (NIL) landscape. A vocal and visible critic of certain elements of the NIL landscape, Saban recently offered more in-depth thoughts during his discussion with Stephen A. Smith during his "Know Mercy" podcast this week
"If we want to change the model of college football and follow the NFL model, what I would like to see -- if that's the case -- is that we pay the players -- everybody's got a part of their scholarship that gives them so much money," he said. "But now you're talking about making college student-athletes employees, and that in and of itself may have some issues that would have to be resolved. So you're talking about a similar model to the NFL where you've got to get some sort of legal right to be able to do this.
Saban's critiques of NIL echo his controversial comments last year when he publicly accused Texas A&M and coach Jimbo Fisher of "buying" their 2022 recruiting class, which finished ahead of Alabama as the top-ranked class in the star system era. Those comments sparked intense backlash from Fisher and prompted Saban to offer an apology. Nevertheless, it remains apparent that Saban, 71, is disenchanted with flaws in the disorganized NIL structure.
"[Name, Image and Likeness] wasn't supposed to be me going to give a speech to raise money from alumni so we can get enough money in our collective so can pay players," Saban said. "That's not what it was supposed to be."
Though Saban may not love the imperfections in the NIL system, he appears to be adapting well. Even amid transition with both coordinators spots on his staff, Saban signed the nation's No. 1 ranked 2023 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Team Rankings.
"I'm happy that the players sort of have the opportunity to use their name, image and likeness to make money for themselves. I think that's great," Saban said. "But I always thought that you went to college to try and create value for your future in terms of doing well academically, being a good person, trying to develop a career as a player ... I don't like the trend toward 'How much money can I make while I'm in college?' How much of a distraction is that to your ability to stay focused on the things you need to do to create value for your future?"