It happened so quickly, gambling sites didn't have the proper time to place odds about who would be first: a coach, a player or the duck.
When Nick Saban spoke out about NIL deals being used in recruiting during an event in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday night, someone from one of the three schools he specifically mentioned quickly responded on Twitter.
It just happened to be Jackson State coach Deion Sanders, whom Saban has done Aflac commercials with.
“You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow,” Sanders tweeted shortly after 11 p.m. CT. “I was & awakened by my son @ShedeurSanders that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED @TravisHunterJr a Million to play at @GoJSUTigersFB! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.”
The comment Sanders took exception to was in regards to Travis Hunter Jr., a dynamic two-way star out of Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill High School, who was rated the No. 1 wide receiver and player in the nation by SI All-American. He had been committed to Florida State for 17 months before flipping his commitment to Jackson State on Signing Day.
“We have a rule right now that said you cannot use name, image and likeness to entice a player to come to your school. Hell, read about it in the paper,” Saban said. “I mean, Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school. It was in the paper and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”
Saban also said that Texas A&M, coached by his former offensive coordinator at LSU, Jimbo Fisher, "bought every player on their team."
The third school that Saban mentioned was Miami, where billionaire John Ruiz has signed more than 100 active athletes to marketing deals through his companies. The football team is now led by former Saban assistant Mario Cristobal, but Saban only mentioned the basketball program.
“Those guys from Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000, that’s in the newspaper," Saban said. "The guy tells you how he’s doing it.”
Jackson State coach Deion Sanders
Per the Miami Herald, when Nijel Pack committed to Miami in April, Ruiz tweeted: “The biggest LifeWallet deal to date, two years $800,000.00 total at $400,000.00 per year plus a car. Congratulations!!!”
Saban made the comments during a 50-day countdown celebration for the upcoming World Games in Birmingham.
Earlier Wednesday, he participated in the unveiling of the updated plans for the Saban Center, which will primarily be located at the current Tuscaloosa News building. In addition to becoming the home of the Children’s Hands-On Museum and the Tuscaloosa Children’s Theater, the facility will include a sports science center.
Ironically, when Saban and Sanders teamed up with Aflac it was in part to promote Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), while Saban quietly used his money from the ad campaign to help fill the donation gap to his Nick's Kids Foundation during the pandemic.
The Saban Center was made possible with a $1 million gift from the Saban family, a $250,000 pledge from the Nick’s Kids Foundation, and the city purchasing the Tuscaloosa News site for $8 million.
Nick Saban and Deion Sanders shoot an ad at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Courtesy of Aflac Insurance.