Alabama players voted not to open letters from NFL Draft Advisory Board

AP

Last year, after his team lost to Ohio State in the NCAA semifinals, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban complained publicly about the potential influence of input of the NFL Draft Advisory Board on Alabama players who were eligible to make the next step.

Saban didn’t like the potential impact of players making business decisions (by running out of bounds and otherwise trying not to get hurt) on his business.

This year, Saban had no cause to complain. According to Joe Schad of ESPN.com, tight end O.J. Howard said Tuesday that Alabama players voted not to open their letters from the NFL Draft Advisory Board until after the season ended. (It’s unknown whether Saban prepared, distributed, collected, and/or counted the ballots.)

Howard said he’ll meet with Saban on Wednesday to make a decision. But it sounds like a decision already has been made, pending the contents of Howard’s letter.

“We try to emphasize with our players that if you’re a first-round draft pick, the business decision is you should go out for the draft,” Saban said Tuesday, via NFL.com. “If you’re in a position in the draft where you can enhance your value by staying in college, then maybe you shouldn’t go out for the draft.”

That’s an unrealistic assessment, given the current state of player compensation in the NFL. Before the rookie wage scale was implemented in 2011, a player could make a lot of money by spending another year in college and working his way from a second- or third-round pick into round one. Indeed, a player prior to 2011 could make a lot of money simply from going from the bottom of round one to the top of it.

The current rookie wage scale places less of a premium on playing another year for free in the hopes of making more later. It’s actually better, if the player is destined to become a good-to-great NFL player, to start putting in years now toward the potentially far more lucrative second NFL contract.

Moreover, it’s always better to be a high second-round pick than a low first-round pick, because teams control the rights to first-round picks for five years. Second-round picks are eligible for free agency after four.

So let’s say Howard gets a second-round grade, decides to return to Alabama, and makes himself into a low first-round pick. If he plays well, he’ll be eligible for free agency in 2022.

If he gets a second-round grade, decides to enter the draft, and plays well, he’ll be eligible for free agency in 2020, a full two years earlier.

That’s why Saban’s rule of thumb doesn’t work for the players. But it definitely works for Saban, who benefits from the players choosing to continue to work for him at no cost to Alabama. And the ensuing Jedi Mind Trick also works well for Alabama, which can continue to justify paying millions that otherwise would go to the players to the coach who has convinced them to keep working for free.

44 responses to “Alabama players voted not to open letters from NFL Draft Advisory Board

  1. Last I heard playing in the NFL was not mandatory. They’re free to seek employment elsewhere. They should do that … and shut up.

  2. floratiotime says:
    Jan 12, 2016 4:25 PM

    Last I heard playing in the NFL was not mandatory. They’re free to seek employment elsewhere. They should do that … and shut up.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Your post makes it appear that you missed the point entirely. The players only voted not to open letters until the season was over. Saban is the one complaining. He’s got millions per year in salary, so he won’t be seeking employment elsewhere.

    The players will be looking at the NFL.

  3. We get it, bro. You want college players to get paid actual money. I guess a full ride on a 70K college degree and having zero debt after college isn’t enough. Half of these players (that’s being generous) couldn’t get into these schools if not for sports, yet they get free educations from some of the most respected educational institutions on the planet. Once they blow through their money 5 years after they leave the league the degree’s and education they would have earned had they stayed would have set them up for life, probably more so than the money they blow through. Seems legit.

  4. it’s always better to be a high second-round pick than a low first-round pick

    That’s only true if you’d just as soon play for the Titans or Jaguars as for the Seahawks or Packers.

  5. You do realize that your beloved nfl will change forever if they lose their free farm system? There won’t be enough nfl talent to go around if college players get paid and most universities give up football programs that can’t pay for themselves.

  6. It’s ok for Saban to work for money but not okay for his players (although I wouldn’t be surprised if they do).

  7. Saban’s friends Rocko and Bruno are on the way to have a little chat with you about the advice you’re giving college players.

  8. usitait says:
    Jan 12, 2016 4:30 PM
    Since it’s SEC, shouldn’t it have been:

    “Players voted not to have tutors read NFL draft advisory board letters to them”

    hardest I have laughed in a week thanks pal!

  9. ncaa … the last plantation

    its ok at least we feed them and give them a place to sleep… says the career bureaucrats that live a fostered life on campus seeming really wise to a bunch of impressionable kids . Teaching things they couldn’t possibly succeed at in real life. Reminds of the business prof in awesome rodney dangerfield movie back to school lecturing the millionaire self made business man on how to run a business.

  10. It was nice to see O.J Howard have a big game last night. He was badly underutilized all season and is a much better pro prospect than Bama’s system and/or gameplans allowed him to demonstrate. He showed out big last night and in a weak TE draft class it may have wound up making him a lot of money in a few months.

  11. “You do realize that your beloved nfl will change forever if they lose their free farm system? There won’t be enough nfl talent to go around if college players get paid and most universities give up football programs that can’t pay for themselves.”

    What would like happen is the same thing that happens everywhere else in the developed world that doesn’t use the education system to develop professional athletes. The teams would have to develop their own systems and sign players at young ages and develop them (soccer) or like Canada – professional junior leagues (hockey).

    In Canada the kids get jack for pay to play professional junior hockey, but they get scholarship money for University or College once they are finished junior hockey (20).

    Much more straight forward capitalist system. Funny that Europe and Canada that are much more socialist countries are way more capitalist when it comes to sports.

  12. Hoit624 is absolutely wrong. Scholarships are NOT a full ride and depending on the school the expenses can execede what’s covered. There’s also the aspect that you’re not in school for an education at the competitive football schools, you’re there to play football. Football > Education yet you have still have to go to the classes like a regular student to not get dropped but also have the restrictive schedule as a football player. Which is why a lot of the players in said schools end uo being tricked byvsaid school to take useless majors & classes they isn’t conducive to their future, just said school profits.

    No they shouldn’t be paid to play as then it hurts other athletes in sports however they shouldn’t be exploited and be unable to earn their own money off their own name either. Thwy shouldn’t of had to sue just to get that right either. Not all the players are silver spoon fed and people that use the full ride argument are those that haven’t been there and have zero idea just how grim and explotive the NCAA system is, especially when it comes to football and being the NFLs free farm system but people do it anyways trying to chase their dream/having a better life. At least Europe has academies.

  13. vancouversportsbro
    Jan 12, 2016, 4:40 PM EST
    Paper champions. Ohio state was robbed of a repeat title and would have beaten these guys had it not been for the unlucky loss to Michigan state.

    ——————–

    Lmao. Ohio State couldn’t beat Michgan State, who just so happened to get rolled by Alabama in the playoff game. Dream on


  14. dynastyposeiden
    Jan 12, 2016, 4:50 PM EST
    ncaa … the last plantation

    ….”
    _________________

    Comparing slavery to kids voluntarily getting hundreds of thousands of $ in scholarships, some of whom are on their way to making millions for catching a ball.

    Yep – seems about right.

  15. Saban is all about Saban. He is a great recruiter, and works in the most football obsessed portion of the country, so he’ll win lots of games. But, he is about winning, not what’s best for his players.

  16. College football players get paid, a lot. A four year scholarship with no debt after graduation is like hitting the lottery. Just ask the thousands on campus that have to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to get the degree. And only a hand full ever make the grade. And fewer less make the grade to the NBA.

  17. “Saban didn’t like the potential impact of players making business decisions (by running out of bounds and otherwise trying not to get hurt) on his business.”

    And which business is that? Slave labor?

  18. The players need labor representation, as they continue to generate billions with a B, making everyone rich but themselves.

    Of course they continue to make immature decisions masquerading as team/school loyalty. The handling of amateur athletes in America is a blatant, pathetic and grotesque example of free labor in a capitalist economy.

    Now, Saban has his group snowed to the max. He’ll be hanging out in his mansion, they built for him, when their eligibility is gone.

  19. First, in an effort to foster leadership from within, Saban set up a players leadership council that takes on the role of getting the players together and coming to group decisions. So no, Saban didn’t coordinate this vote. The leadership council did–just as the leadership council voted to send home sophmore DB Tony Brown from the playoffs for breaking team rules.

    Second, Saban has been the one FBS coach who consistently supports paying college players. So it’s misleading to suggest he’s trying to keep them as slave labor to the college ranks. He’s also significantly increased the graduation rates among college players at Alabama. Of the players on Bama’s championship team, 29 had already earned their degrees. He has a reputation of ensuring his players are pro-ready. And if they struggle in the pros as Rolando McClain did, he often brings them back to help them reclaim their careers.

    Saban’s an A-list recruiter. He doesn’t have to con players into delaying the draft to ensure he has a tight roster. Let’s focus on reality instead of personal dislike for the man.

  20. In Teddy We Trust says:
    Jan 12, 2016 5:01 PM

    I think O.J. Howard’s letter is out of date. He must have increased his draft stock by a couple of rounds last night.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    His revised letter will be expedited. It was probably hand delivered!

  21. The real culprit is the NCAA, which runs a multi-million dollar industry on slave labor. Despite the trickle down cash flow that makes sought-after college coaches like Saban millionaires, a college coach has the right to try to influence his players to stay focused on the team’s goals until the team’s season ends.

    It’s still a team sport, and the NFL’s efforts to draw attention of the players it covets away from those team goals toward its own selfish goals amounts to tampering.

  22. Tuition, room & board, and textbooks at Alabama total more than $40,000 per year.

    Those guys aren’t playing “for free”.

  23. “It’s actually better, if the player is destined to become a good-to-great NFL player, to start putting in years now toward the potentially far more lucrative second NFL contract.”

    That makes it sound WAY simpler than it really is. Come out early and either go undrafted or fail to land a roster spot and you’re facing an uphill battle to ever get into the league with no ability to work on your game in college and your shot at a free degree to fall back on lost . All these college kids are certain they’re destined to be good-to-great NFL players. Most are wrong.

  24. Stiller43 says:
    Jan 12, 2016 5:11 PM

    dynastyposeiden
    Jan 12, 2016, 4:50 PM EST
    ncaa … the last plantation

    ….”
    _________________

    Comparing slavery to kids voluntarily getting hundreds of thousands of $ in scholarships, some of whom are on their way to making millions for catching a ball.

    Yep – seems about right.

    try buying some shoes or a pizza with that scholarship.
    or better yet you go to work for free for the next 4 years for the chance…. a < 5% chance to make millions four years from now. continue to think what you are told to think it is a great way to live ….SMH

  25. The thing is some players really need that extra year of college to hone their skills or in some cases to get their head together.

    As Florio said, the money is in the second contract. But the importance is getting to the second contract which the vast majority of players don’t.

    For every Tom Brady late round success story, there are 250 sixth round picks who are out of the league within 3 years.

  26. A college scholarship is equal to what these college players make for these universities? Not even close!

    They make millions. How much is Saban being compensated?

    If they are talented enough to make the NFL go as soon as they are ready. The new CBA didn’t do rookies any favors but at least if they go young they have the possibility of 3 contracts in NFL career.

  27. Since it’s SEC, shouldn’t it have been:

    “Players voted not to have tutors read NFL draft advisory board letters to them”

    I’m guessing you’re an Ohio State fan…probably not even a graduate. Last time I checked Vanderbilt was in the SEC but you’ve probably never heard of them.

  28. Funny thing is the best NFL prospect on the Bama roster may not even be draft eligible yet. It’s their CB #26 who was playing shutdown caliber ball as a freshman.

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