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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Saban finishes chores before holding court

by Wally Hall | July 20, 2022 at 3:34 a.m.

ATLANTA -- When Nick Saban and three Alabama football players arrived for SEC Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., it was bedlam.

The lobby of the hotel that hosts the event had to rope off an area for the Crimson Tide fans, leaving a path for players, coaches and members of the media.

Here in Atlanta, there were a few wildly enthusiastic fans, but nothing compared to B-Ham, so the College Football Hall of Fame's precautions weren't really necessary.

Besides, this is Georgia Bulldog Country, and it was the Bulldogs who beat Saban and the Tide for last year's national championship.

The College Football Hall of Fame, which should be on every college football fan's bucket list, had the media enter through a side door and allowed only a handful of Bama fans in the lobby.

Alabama's Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young was able to move about freely, and when he stepped off the second-floor elevator for a few select interviews out of dozens of radio shows, he couldn't help but notice the display case honoring him.

He looked at it almost in awe, and after the interviews, he returned to take another look which drew a slew of photographers.

That was minutes before Saban was due to open the second-day session.

It was when a rainstorm hit hard.

When Saban walked on the stage, the rain quit.

It seemed he might pull one of his filibusters when he speaks so long that there is only time for a few questions, but he stopped after 13 minutes and opened it to questions.

As he always does, he thanked the media for being there.

It wasn't a warm greeting. Never is.

He said he was happy to be there.

He didn't look or sound like it, although he did say he was the leader of an organization but not on vacation, and that he was glad his household chores were finished so he could focus on football.

It's hard to imagine the winner of seven national championships putting the garbage can on the curb or a vacuum cleaner fitting his tight fist.

It is also hard to imagine Saban and Alabama not being a beast in the hunt for championships.

Times are changing, and while Saban doesn't show any sign of slowing down -- even though he'll be 71 on Halloween -- college football and its landscape have been altered.

While he said Alabama is a have and not a have not, he did express a concern for name, image and likeness but admitted Bama players earned $3 million last year.

Earlier this year, he blasted Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M for reportedly spending $30 million on its incoming recruiting class, which ranked No. 1 ahead of No. 2 Alabama.

Tuesday he just expressed a concern:

"There's got to be some uniformity and protocol of how name, image and likeness is implemented. I think there's probably a couple factors that are important in that. How does this impact competitive balance in college athletics? And is there transparency to maintain fairness across the board in terms of college athletics? How do we protect the players? Because there's more and more people that are trying to get between the player and the money."

He pointed out the NFL has guidelines, rules and regulations including a salary cap.

Saban isn't the only coach concerned about NIL, or the transfer portal which is nothing more than free agency.

NIL and the portal have created a wild, wild west for college athletics.

Saban works better in a controlled environment, especially when it is controlled by him and not even he can control the current bidding wars for recruits.

Saban will survive. He's a great coach who might resist change, but in the end, he does whatever it takes to win.

Print Headline: Saban finishes chores before holding court


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