When former Dolphins coach and current I’m-not-going-to-be-the-Alabama-coach Alabama coach Nick Saban whined in January about college football needing “national legislation” to control name, image, and likeness revenue, my first thought was that he feared he wouldn’t be able to compete in this new college football world order, given that bigger cities with bigger financial resources behind their programs would swipe players that Saban currently lures to Tuscaloosa.
Some disagreed with this take, reasoning that Saban will find a way to continue his mastery of college football in a wild-west world featuring dramatic differences in the revenue being funneled to players in larger markets versus smaller ones. But would Saban be complaining about a system that he believes he’ll be able to master and control, or would he heed his mouth shut and continue to kick everyone’s ass?
Now, Saban is complaining again. Appearing with Paul Finebaum, Saban actually suggested that NIL threatens the parity of college football.
Yes, Nick Saban believes there’s parity in football. (But not that kind of parity.)
“Everything in college football has always had parity, same scholarships, same academic support, health care, whatever it is,” Saban said. “And I don’t think we have that balance right now, which could affect the parity of college football and college athletics as a whole. So I know we’ve got a lot of good people working on it. And I’m sure they’ll come up with a good solution for it.”
In fairness to Saban, he’s not talking about parity of performance. He’s talking about parity of resources. And he likes it that way.
Barring federal legislation, any attempt by the various schools to impose parity of resources has another name — federal antitrust violation. That’s what blew everything up in 2021, with a Supreme Court ruling and reasoning that gutted the ability of distinct colleges to come together and limit labor costs.
Saban’s latest comments underscore his concerns. He wants all things to be equal when it comes to what a program can offer, because that’s when he can make a difference with unparalleled recruiting skills. His silver tongue doesn’t stand a chance if someone else is carrying a golden goose.
This isn’t altruism by Saban. He’s protecting his turf, his roster, his ability to parlay parity of resources into disparity of results. Every time he talks about it, it becomes more clear.