Speaking with local business leaders on Wednesday night in Birmingham, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has never bent any rules whatsoever to help recruit a player for the Crimson Tide, threw shade at Texas A&M for “buying” its top-ranked signing class with name, image and likeness (NIL) deals.
“I mean, we were second in recruiting last year,” Saban said. “A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team — made a deal for name, image, likeness. We didn’t buy one player, all right? But I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”
Saban, who said Crimson Tide football players earned more than $3 million last year via NIL “the right way,” also took aim at Jackson State and head coach Deion Sanders, who somehow landed highly rated recruit Travis Hunter on signing day after he had already committed to Florida State. “Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school,” Saban said. “It was in the paper and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”
Sanders, who was a star player at Florida State, denied that Jackson State made any impermissible offers to Hunter to get him to sign with the historically black college and fired back at Saban via Twitter in a somewhat incoherent tweet. “You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow,” he wrote. “I was & awakened by my son that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED Travis Hunter Jr a Million to play at GoJSUTigersFB ! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.”
As a follow-up, Sanders, who goes by Coach Prime on Twitter, wrote: “Trust starts with Self ! It’s extremely hard to trust someone when u don’t trust yourself! What you’re saying is if u had that same opportunity u would do wrong. Therefore u must build Trust in u & trust GOD then your trust of others would register stronger than ever.”
He then responded to a tweet from Hunter addressing the matter.
Hunter currently has an NIL deal with J5 Caffe, a Black-owned coffee company based in Mississippi.
In an interesting twist, Sanders and Saban both have endorsement deals with Aflac and starred together in a television commercial last year. Both have made boatloads of money during their careers and there’s no doubt that some of the players they’ve coached will, and have, as well via NIL or otherwise.