Nick Saban Elaborates on NIL and Its Impact on College Football

With Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young poised to make over $1 million before taking a snap as a starter, Saban addressed how he believes NIL will change the sport.
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HOOVER, Ala. — On Tuesday morning, news broke that Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is poised to make over $1 million through name, image and likeness endorsements. With changing NIL policies going into effect across the country and having been legal for less than a month, the number came across as staggering to college football fans.

Even coaches were taken aback by the number, including Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin at the 2021 SEC Media Days.

"I'm still blown away on this Bryce Young," Kiffin said with an impressed look on his face. "The guy's made a million dollars already? That's good, man. He don't need to play next year against us, then. I mean, that's mind blowing."

Young has yet to take a snap as a starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide. However, he has displayed much promise at the position and is poised to be the next huge Alabama star. Last season, Young spent his time as backup to Mac Jones but saw action in nine games. He attempted 22 passes and completed 13 for 156 yards and one touchdown.

With Jones heading to the NFL to join the New England Patriots, 2021 signals Young's first season as the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback. At the 2021 A-Day Game, Young completed 25 of 46 passes for 333 yards and one touchdown.

On Wednesday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban took to the stage to address the media at the 2021 SEC Media Days. During the Q&A session of the conference, a reporter brought up the dollar amount that Young is slated to earn.

Saban's knee-jerk response was to remark on the quickly-evolving landscape of the sport due to NIL.

"You don't really know how it's going to affect things," Saban said. "Players have always been able to work and earn money. That's something that you could do ten years ago, 20 years ago. It's something that I did when I was a player. The college landscape changed to some degree when players got cost of attendance. We made rules that allowed them to go to summer school on scholarship, which we didn't used to have.

"So most players with this additional money and the opportunity to advance their academic circumstance chose not to work. So all we've done is create an opportunity for players to work."

One topic of discussion that has been around since the idea of NIL first came into existence was the equality of pay among players and how it would impact locker room dynamics. While key skill players like Young are slated to heavily profit from the new policies, other players like offensive lineman will likely not be able to make as much money.

Saban addressed that concern in some respects, discussing that the old model through payment via scholarships ensured equal pay across the board and that the new model will take away from that equality.

"The only thing is, the question is because it's not going to be equal, and everything that we've done in college athletics in the past has always been equal," Saban said. "Everybody's had equal scholarship, equal opportunity. Now that's probably not going to be the case. Some positions, some players will have more opportunities than others.

"How that's going to impact your team, our team, the players on the team, I really can't answer because we don't have any precedent for it."

Saban has proven time and time again that he is ahead of the curve when it comes to adapting to the evolution of college football. Through the changing of rules to the game and other elements such as the NCAA Transfer Portal, the Crimson Tide's continual success has been attributed time and time again to Saban and his almost clairvoyant nature.

Saban emphasized that, now that the new NIL policies are in place, it is his responsibility to educate his players on the new opportunities that it has to offer.

"I know that we're doing the best we can to try to get our players to understand the circumstance they're in, the opportunity they have, and how those opportunities are not going to be equal for everybody, and it will be opportunity for our team's success that people are not looking over their shoulder at what somebody else does or doesn't do," Saban said.