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Deion Sanders, HBCUs Have Nick Saban and Power 5 Coaches Worried

Power 5 schools are concerned that NIL deals will level the playing field against their booster clubs, alumni, and names to attract and recruit top-level talent

It's an age-old story. The powerful want to keep power by any mean necessary. Should the presumed weaker competitor win, it's only due to either cheating or some hidden advantage, not their skill. Better yet, it just could be their time.

The Power 5 elite head coaches are worried about power equity trickling down to HBCU and Division II schools. 

Sanders vs Saban 2

SABAN'S INCENDIARY REMARKS

On Wednesday, Nick Saban spoke to a room of Alabama business leaders and took swipes at Jackson State and Texas A&M. The more destructive and unsubstantiated claim was against Jackson State's alleged NIL abuse during recruiting Travis Hunter.

Saban egregiously stated, "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. They bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it." 

What's problematic about the statement is that no reports, documentation, or video supports his claim of Jackson State "bragging" about a $1 million NIL for Travis Hunter.  

His willingness to openly chastise JSU signals a central concern Power 5 coaches have for NIL contracts. The deals give HBCUs and smaller institutions equity to compete in recruiting three-, four-, and five-star talent, which was primarily exclusive to Power 5 programs.

Hunter signs

THE DECISION WAS HUNTER'S TO MAKE

For years institutions in the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC, and other Power 5 conferences relied on their recruiting departments, booster clubs, alumni, television deals, and history to attract and recruit top-level talent like Travis Hunter.

With this in mind, Travis Hunter's choice was clear. His decision to attend Jackson State was based on the intangibles a Power 5 couldn't offer - CULTURE. 

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HBCUs expose young black athletes to the opportunity to interact, connect, and learn from other black students worldwide. The "Black College Experience" is unlike none other with the pageantry, social events, education, and indoctrination of the culture they will not find in predominantly white institutions. 

If the seven-time national champion head coach cannot prove his claim, he must apologize to Jackson State and SEC rival Texas A&M. Saban said A&M "bought" their recruiting class.

Often before an unprovoked attempt to destroy someone's credibility, the attacker publicly besmirches the name of their enemy. Typically, the attack is unwarranted and unmerited. Such as the case of Nick Saban's public "tar and feathering" of Jackson State and Texas A&M.

The Alabama Crimson Tide's head football coach has a stellar record in winning titles and accolades and resorted to "low blows" to support his agenda. Like the "L" Georgia and Clemson gave Alabama in title games, it's time for Saban to take the "L" from Deion Sanders, Jackson State, and Texas A&M in the 2021 recruiting process.  

Coaches from more prominent and well-funded programs did not view an HBCU or Division II school as a threat in the recruiting cycle. When Hunter and Coleman "chose" to attend JSU, it created a firestorm of negative commentary from media personalities. Although Saban, Kiffin, and Swinney made insinuations about Jackson State's recruiting tactics, Saban's remarks were strategic.

Equity in recruiting is here. It's not only through NILs but instead through offering a cultural experience that is second to none.  

It's simple. Power 5 schools were and may continue to be "out-recruited." Changes in the NIL system will come as well. Yet, for the time being, don't expect prominent HBCU coaches like Deion Sanders, Eric Dooley, Willie Simmons, Buddy Pough, Dawson Odums, Fred McNair, and Hue Jackson to shy away from the competition.  

Eddie Robinson, John Merritt, and Jake Gaither did not need booster's help and fundraising tactics to attract young men to their program.  Still, they turned Grambling, Tennessee State, and FAMU into powerhouse programs during Jim Crow and segregation.   

Could Deion Sanders, Eric Dooley, Willie Simmons, Buddy Pough, Dawson Odums, Fred McNair, and Hue Jackson be on the same track as these legends?

We shall see.

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