Nick Saban: “Difficult consequences” for players who go pro too early

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban has benefitted a lot from players who use his school as a springboard to professional careers, but he thinks some of them are opting to enter the NFL too early.

Saban said on Saturday that “a significant amount” of players from Alabama and other schools “are not making good business decisions” when it comes to going pro. He said players who wind up as mid- or late-round picks should remain in school in order to go earlier in the next year’s draft.

“When people make emotional decisions, they’re going to have to suffer some really difficult consequences for themselves in the future,” Saban said, via “Because you don’t have to go out for the draft early. You can come back and play. We’ve had six or seven guys here that had second- or third-round grades that became top-15 and first-round draft picks and made a significant amount of money doing that, so there’s some really good examples of guys that did it that way.”

Saban noted an unnamed player who left Alabama last year and became a starting safety after going in the third round, which Saban says “is not that great” from a financial perspective. Jaguars safety Ronnie Harrison is the only one who fits that description and, as Saban notes, he’s locked into his deal for two more years regardless of how well he plays.

What Saban doesn’t note is that third-round money is a lot more than Harrison and other college players are permitted to make by the NCAA. If he and other players were able to profit off their name and likeness, perhaps there would be more willingness to remain in college despite the risk of injury that would threaten to make them an even lower pick if they stayed for another year.

Both arguments have validity, although the growing number of underclassmen in the draft — 106 last year, 103 this year — suggest the ones for staying in school could use some help.

18 responses to “Nick Saban: “Difficult consequences” for players who go pro too early

  1. Yea, those Crimson Tide players who go pro too early will suffer financial “consequences”.
    It will take at least 3 years of salary in the NFL, to equal the 4 years of “salary” at Alabama

  2. As someone who just paid off his student loans 17+ years after graduation it’s maddening to me when you and others like you ignore the fact that these players receive a HUGE benefit in the form of free or reduced tuition in exchange for their services. Can we please be rational about this and try to remember that a)football is a game that these guys enjoy and love to play and b) the vast majority of them will never step foot on a professional football field but many of them will make use of that free degree. I believe they should receive a small stipend and be allowed to work during the off season but should not be paid beyond that.

  3. There are difficult consequences for being exploited by the NCAA too. Pot … kettle.

  4. I think Saban is right and not only in football but in basketball too. A lot of these players that come out too early never make it and then what do they do without completing college?

  5. Instead of just riding uneducable raw talents as unpaid employees without representation, maybe if colleges only admitted guys of good educational ability, and greatly improved the scholarship schemes to actually give these kids a proper education and decent qualifications so they can have a career after football (and supported them better through the process and tried to turn out well-rounded young men), more of them would want to try to complete the process. Instead, you just try to set them up for a few years of football so why should they wait to get paid??

  6. Hard to call it exploited when receiving a College Education(without paying a bribe even),getting excellent Coaching,excellent physical training,excellent dietary guidance and access, massive public exposure against top level competition,all of which transforms a player from one of 20k unproven HS players into a player of interest for the NFL. Ronnie Harrison would not be in the NFL without his College Career making him the player and the name that he was come Draft Day. All players don’t play at a Major School,to be sure,and most will never sniff the NFL, and they aren’t getting any of the billions the NCAA has a hand in. But they getting a great deal,no matter the school or Pro Prospects.
    I would like to see them get paid for their image. I would like to see their Scholarship be virtually unlimited by time elapsed, age,income or school. If a (former) Scholarship player wants to go to school,whenever, wherever, the NCAA foots the bill. Period.

  7. I make 90k per year and by most measures am doing quite well. I’m not in debt, I own my house, and have a good credit score.

    If Mr. Irrelevant makes the team that drafted him, he stands to make about 3 to 4 million over the course of his rookie contract.

    Tell me again about the “bad decisions” guys make when they declare for the draft as projected 3rd rounders?

    Nick just wants kids to stay longer and play for him for free, which is actually an even worse business decision because the jump from 3rd round money to first round money isn’t great enough to make up for the loss of that 3rd round money for staying in college.

  8. Saban doesn’t care about the players financial situation he only cares about early departures hurting the team . Harrison signed a 4 yr deal for $ 3.3 mil including a signing bonus of $803,000 . His rookie year salary was $ 437,000 so he made a total of $1.2 mil which may not be much to Saban but is a helluva lot to the rest of us . What Saban’s fake concern doesn’t address is what if you come back and the draft stock drops because of injury , scheme change or you lose playing time to another player .Thinking Harrison made the right decision even if the selfish Saban doesn’t agree .

  9. Being that College football is the true feeder system for the NFL. The NFL should require any player entering the NFL draft to complete 4 years of school. By the same token, The Colleges should start paying the players expense money with the TV contracts as big as they are. Saban has a good point. If you graduate, You are 22 years old in most cases. Yes the first deal is for 4 or 5 years, But still more money than most people will make in a lifetime. After that 4 or 5 year deal, which makes the player around 26 or 27 and in their prime, The player can hit free agency and cash in big time if they succeed. Yes it is a emotional decision when your family is struggling, But as i said, If they paid the college players some monies, say the amounts that practice squad players make 20 to 30 thousand a season, The families of these players could get some help during the College years. And make their kid a better football player in the long run.

  10. What Saban doesn’t note is that third-round money is a lot more than Harrison and other college players are permitted to make by the NCAA.

    It should have been obvious to you that he was discussing long term financial decisions.

  11. Every year of football adds permanent brain and body injury risk.

    Start making money as soon as you can.

    It is a game, but a riducululously brutal one that often reduces brain and leg function.

  12. First and foremost, what a waste of money, not finishing up your free ride fo a college degree. secondly, it makes zero sense for a guy other than a first round rating comes out early I the first place, that’s a multi million dollar mistake. Finally, just my opinion, the league made a huge mistake when it allowed for these young men to start coming out in the first place, no matter the talent level. They create qthis maddening money hungry mentality and most of these guys exit college ill prepared for life after football. Gosh, do you know how many students would give anything for a free year of tuition. The NBA and the NHL take players that are just barely 18 years of age, tragic.

  13. Let’s not pretend Satan cares one bit about his players. He just doesn’t want them to leave so they don’t have to buy another recruit to replace him. Even if they do get drafted on the third day they are still making more than most people will make in a decade even if it’s less than what they were making at Alabama.

  14. I want to be clear. Saban is saying a player that is drafted in the later rounds and exceeds the contract would have been better off staying in school, taking the injury risk and getting zero dollars. You can’t even argue about insuring the player because if he is projected to be a 3rd rounder and falls a bit it won’t trigger. The intent is to be drafted top of the first round when projected as a 3rd, insurance won’t cover that. Regardless the issue is this….
    An NFL player outside of the rookie deal makes way more than the rookie deal. By going to the NFL as a 3rd rounder you are only going to need 2 more years to hit free agency. If he outperforms the contract I would argue he is better off than a late first rounder tied up for 5 years (with an option) on a rookie wage scale.

  15. I just want to add, for the most part these are not student athletes. Sure some manage to get an education. A lot graduate and get a diploma but that isn’t an education. These guys “play football, they don’t play school” as one wise man has said.
    The faster they get to that second contract the better.

  16. What about Eddie Jackson of the Bears? Wasn’t he a late round pick last Year?

  17. Their education, even at Alabama, is their PAY! Stay in school, get a degree in basket weaving, if necessary. Then hit the lottery of playing in the NFL!

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