Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban’s comments about Texas A&M ‘buying’ its players, and debate what it means for the future of Alabama recruiting.
DAN WETZEL: Nick Saban is upset because kids went to Texas A&M instead of Alabama. This crisis is that kids are going to A&M and not Alabama. They're still going to play college football. Or Travis Hunter-- he needs to go to our school not Jackson-- who cares? The talent is spreading out. And that should be a good thing for the sport because it's great for Alabama that they won six titles. And they have the best players. And they're always in it. But for the rest of us, it's like, [? oh-- ?] you know.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: We're a little bored here. I want someone else to have a shot. And A&M is going, here, we got our shot. We got money. Tennessee's saying, money. How do fledgling companies, startups-- how does any company that isn't located in downtown Manhattan or downtown San Francisco-- how do they attract talent away from the bigger, more established companies? They pay them. How do you retain talent in business? You pay them more.
And that's what's going on here. Other places are able to use money above board and say, come to our place. And you sit there and say, you know what? Yeah, Alabama's program is better than A&M's program. And maybe my path to the NFL has a little bit better odds at Alabama. But isn't that bad at A&M. But if I'm getting this money, now that thing tilts. And I don't know that that's a bad thing. I don't think it's a bad thing-- straight up.
PAT FORDE: No, I agree. And again, I think that does go back to the point that this is Nick Saban feeling like his fiefdom, basically, is under siege. You know, that his primacy-- again, I don't think this is a principled stand this is a, hey somebody's getting the guys that I'm getting. And they've already beaten us last year. And they may beat us in the future. And I don't like it.
From everything you can gather, Alabama's fan base, which a, may just not have the money, but b, doesn't have that much interest in jumping to the forefront of the collective space-- probably with the feeling like, I mean, we're doing fine as we are. Can't we just sell the NFL? I don't really want to do this.
DAN WETZEL: I mean, he still had the number two class.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
DAN WETZEL: And two things on that-- one, I think the fan base will do whatever their leader tells them. Alabama is not doing this. And so that's fine. And maybe they will. And they can jump in and be considerable. And then two, forget the recruiting rankings. I want players that sit there and say, I care more about development and making the NFL than the quick buck. I don't fault anyone for taking the quick buck.
But I think Nick Saban would rather coach those guys that are like, yeah, I'm ready for you, because that's his whole thing. It's like, I'm going to kick-- you are going to get destroyed here. Most of you will never see the field for two years. And you're going to get beaten up in practice. And that guy across the way there-- he's going seventh in the draft next year. He's going to beat the hell out of you. And you're going to have to do everything here, and then maybe you make it as a sophomore or a junior, right? You're Mac Jones and you wait.
PAT FORDE: Right.
DAN WETZEL: All of them. Najee Harris didn't start as a freshman. What kind of stud is that? So it's like, that's how Alabama builds it. And those guys that want that competition and want that struggle go there.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, I mean, for a reason, Saban threw out the other number on that show Wednesday night. We've had players make $1.4 billion in salary from the NFL. I mean, that's his bottom line. If you come here, you have a great chance of getting to the pros. It's going to be a three-year process at best, no matter what. But you're going to get better as you sit behind some other superstar. And then eventually, when it's your time, you're going to be a star on the field, and you're going to be a rich person shortly thereafter.
So that's always been the sell, and I think that's a great sell. I think it's better than saying, here's $200 thousand to sign with us, and hopefully we'll be good. I think it's a better sell to say-- to look at the track record and say, this is how we do it here, and it works. Sign up with us. But I think that the feeling out there is that right now-- and again, this is new. And we've talked about this on the pod. Things will probably settle to a degree when the dust calms down. But right there, there's a money rush out there, I believe, through these collectives today. We've never been able to get it. Let's go get it.