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Just A Minute: A Lot of People Missed An Important Part of Nick Saban's NIL Rant

Call it what you will, a plea or a warning, but the Alabama coach signaled that he's getting ready to make another pivot work to the Crimson Tide's advantage.

It's been a week since Nick Saban made his controversial comments about name, imagine and likeness benefits being used in recruiting and Jimbo Fisher's eyebrow-raising retort that made everyone believe that the Alabama coach had struck a nerve. 

The feud has drawn input from the likes of everyone from Steve Spurrier to Justin Thomas, and there seems be a pretty good consensus developing that yes, Saban crossed an unwritten coaching rule with his initial comments. He was largely promoting something that it's almost impossible to verify.  

Fisher subsequently went over the top with saying Saban had been “despicable” and “disgusting" in his attack, narcissistic and "somebody should have slapped him."

There's really no way to walk that back, not that Fisher's the type to do such a thing. 

Either way, there's something that most people are overlooking about what Saban said. 

His comments weren't exactly new. He's been talking for months about re-establishing "parity" in college football, meaning have everyone working within the same framework. 

That's the source of his frustration: NCAA oversight has completely collapsed, and it can't enforce what isn't against the law. 

NIL was never supposed to be used as a recruiting inducement, yet in the rush to make it happen that's clearly what's going on. Consequently, this is not a case of sour grapes by a coach who is suddenly on the outside looking in.  

We've seen what unchecked boosters are capable of, at Alabama and elsewhere. It's a horrible idea. 

Moreover, Alabama had a law punishing anyone providing compensation that would cause a student-athlete to lose eligibility. The penalty as a Class-C felony carried up to 10 years in prison. It was recently repealed because it put its football programs at a recruiting disadvantage as rival states didn't have similar laws.

Since Saban's protests seemed to be falling on somewhat-deaf ears, he took his beef to the court of public opinion and named names that were supposedly out there: Miami, Jackson State and Texas A&M. 

He didn't make up something out of the blue. A prominent Miami booster had been bragging about what he had done for the Hurricanes. Deion Sanders landed arguably the best prospect in the last recruiting class in unparalleled fashion. The Texas A&M collective was ahead of the curve during the same year the Aggies signed a jaw-dropping signing class.  

But he also didn't offer any proof, which is the first thing anyone at Alabama says whenever someone makes an accusation about the Crimson Tide. 

We all know what happened next. Things blew up. Saban apologized. Fisher won't take his calls. And Just like that, Texas A&M at Alabama on Oct. 8 became the game of the 2022 season.

Now take a step back. 

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We've heard Saban talk this way before. When he says things like "Is this what we really want in college football?" it's basically his final plea for the game not to go in a certain direction. 

When he resigns himself to the fact that it will anyway, he always turns it into his advantage. 

When the Saban rule was passed banning college coaches from visiting high school campuses during the offseason, he started doing video conference calls way before the rest of us did during the pandemic.   

The rules were geared to benefit up-tempo offenses? He hired Lane Kiffin to help Alabama do it better than anyone else. When it's clicking the Crimson Tide now has the most dangerous offense in college football. 

The spread, which emphasizes one-on-one matchups, makes speed a premium asset. His teams got faster on both sides of the ball. 

Saban wasn't thrilled with the transfer portal, yet he's used it better than anyone else. Just look at wide receiver Jameson Williams.  

What do you think Saban could potentially do with NIL? Most recruiting services has Alabama second this past year, and it didn't use a collective. 

Whether you agree with how Saban brought attention to this, or not, it's hard to argue against his point. There may be no one who could take better advantage of using NIL in recruiting than the coach who is still riding the greatest dynasty the game has ever seen. 

Just don't be surprised if Saban comes back with a vengeance — again. 

"This is the way it's going to be? Fine." 

Maybe Saban and Sanders will do another Aflac television ad together (both used the money to support causes they cared about, so don't rule it out), but the ad spot that comes to my mind with all of this is the campaign Saban recently did with Regions Bank.

It's the one in which a young woman listens to his advice and decides against purchasing a $750 dress that she really can't afford. 

"Yeah, you're probably right," she says.

"Yeah, I probably am right," he responds. 

Nick Saban: The Voice of Reason Regions advertisement
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Nick Saban and Deion Sanders

Christopher Walsh's Just A Minute commentary appears every week on BamaCentral. 

BamaCentral will have more on the Nick Saban/Jimbo Fisher feud in Friday's notes column All Things CW.