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Nick Saban: 'A&M Bought Every Player on Their Team ... We Didn’t Buy One Player.'

Nick Saban spoke out about NIL deals during an event in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday night.

Alabama won’t get the opportunity to avenge last season’s loss to Texas A&M until Oct. 8. However, Nick Saban fired a few opening shots at the Aggies on Wednesday night when speaking out about name, image and likeness deals.

When addressing the matter during a speaking event in Birmingham, Ala., the Crimson Tide head coach didn’t pull any punches, stating that Texas A&M’s No. 1 rated recruiting class was heavily fueled by NIL deals.

“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said at an event counting down the start of the World Games, which will be held in Birmingham in July. “You read about it, you know who they are. We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness.

“We didn’t buy one player. Aight? But I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future, because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”

Saban stated that Alabama players combined to earn $3 million "by doing it the right way."

"I have no problem with that," Saban said Wednesday. "And nobody had a problem on our team with that because the guys that got the money earned it."

Saban went on to say that the problem with NIL stems from collectives, which are marketing agencies outside of universities typically funded by alumni. Those collectives raise millions of dollars which are then funneled to players for NIL deals. 

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It has been widely speculated that such a practice contributed greatly to Texas A&M landing the top recruiting class this year. The Aggies led the nation signing 13 SI99 recruits in this year's class. Alabama finished second with 12 SI99 signees, followed by Georgia (11), Ohio State (8) and Texas (7). On National Signing Day, Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher made headlines lashing out at reports that his recruiting class was a product of NIL deals.

“That had nothing to do with this class or anything else... this was hard work by our staff,” Fisher said in an interview with 247Sports’ Josh Pate. “It's insulting to the kids who come here, that you insinuate that… But NIL is here to stay in college football, it's going to be a factor in college football, there is no doubt.”

Texas A&M wasn't the only program Saban addressed Wednesday night. The Alabama head coach also brought up five-star cornerback Travis Hunter, who flipped his commitment from Florida State to Jackson State amid rumors that he received a $1.5 million NIL deal to do so. 

“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 mentioned Miami, which has seen billionaire John Ruiz provide millions of dollars to players in NIL deals through his company, LifeWallet.

"Those guys from Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000, that’s in the newspaper. The guy tells you how he’s doing it," Saban said. “But the NCAA can’t enforce their rules because it’s not against the law, and that’s an issue. That’s a problem. Unless we get something that protects them from litigation, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it.”

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Nick Saban spoke out against the recent climate of NIL deals in college football. During an interview with Paul Finebaum last week, the Alabama head coach said that college football is currently running the risk of losing all parity in the sport.

“I don’t think we have that balance right now which can impact the parity of college football and college athletics as a whole,” Saban said. “I know we have a lot of good people working on it and I’m sure they will come up with a good solution for us.”

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