Deion Sanders: Nick Saban wasn’t talking to Jimbo Fisher and me, Saban was talking to his boosters

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Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher wasn’t alone in getting called out by Alabama coach Nick Saban on Wednesday night regarding the chaos created by name, image, and likeness payments. Jackson State coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders heard it, too.

“Hell, read about it in the paper,” Saban said Wednesday at an event in Birmingham. “I mean, Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year that was a really good Division I player to come to the school. It was in the paper, and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it. I mean, these guys at Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000, it’s in the newspaper. The guy tells you how he’s doing it.”

Sanders vowed to respond on Wednesday night, via social media. He did so on Thursday, in comments to Jean-Jacques Taylor of

“Coach Saban wasn’t talking to me,” Sanders said. “Coach Saban wasn’t talking to Jimbo Fisher. He was talking to his boosters. He was talking to his alumni. He was talking to his givers. He was trying to get money. That was what he was doing. He was just using us to get to where he was trying to get to.”

Sanders is right. Saban keeps whining about the new reality because he knows he can’t compete when the floodgates open to paying players legitimately. Sanders, possibly echoing Fisher’s direct assault on Saban’s recruiting practices, suggested that a level playing field for paying players disproportionately hurts those who previously cheated the rules.

“I don’t even wear a watch and I know what time it is. They forget I know who’s been bringing the bag and dropping it off,” Sanders told Taylor. “I know this stuff. I’m not the one you want to play with when it comes to all of this stuff. . . . Once upon a time the bag was just a bag. Now, there’s equality among the big boys. We don’t have those types of bags. We don’t have the boosters and donors and givers. Leave me out of that mess y’all got going on.”

As to the notion that Jackson State “paid” a player $1 million last year, Saban was referring to Travis Hunter. Taylor reports that Hunter has two NIL deals and two more pending, and that they are worth less than $250,000.

Saban said Thursday that he has tried to contact Fisher and Sanders. Sanders told Taylor that Sanders won’t take Saban’s call.

“We need to talk publicly, not privately,” Sanders told Taylor. “What you said was public. That doesn’t require a conversation. Let’s talk publicly and let everybody hear the conversation. . . . You can’t do that publicly and call privately. No, no, no. I still love him. I admire him. I respect him. He’s the magna cum laude of college football and that’s what it’s going to be because he’s earned that. . . . But he took a left when he should’ve stayed right. I’m sure he’ll get back on course. I ain’t tripping.”

While Saban vs. Sanders lacks the same sizzle of Saban vs. Fisher, Sanders knows what’s really going on. Saban knows that the new NIL reality will make it harder for him to get the best of the best players. And without the best of the best players, it will be hard to continue to be regarded as the best of the best coaches in the history of the game.

38 responses to “Deion Sanders: Nick Saban wasn’t talking to Jimbo Fisher and me, Saban was talking to his boosters

  1. Awww, poor Saban is upset that he might actually have to play equal competition because he can’t recruit and field completely overpowered teams compared to his opponents.

  2. Saban is jealous Jumbo has better boosters,… with bigger checkbooks.

  3. Saban wants the lion’s share of the money for himself and his facilities. He also wants to decide which players get money and how much.

  4. Sanders is probably correct. I had not thought about that but it is the only thing that makes sense.

  5. I feel like Deion responded with the correct amount of professionalism and emotion here. I see nothing wrong nor aggressive in what he said (even if it was warranted). Kudos to him

  6. Sanders put it all out on the table. gotta respect that. And he is right, Saban is just whining because he cannot dominate the recruiting side now that players can get that money in the process legitimately.

  7. NIL and the transfer portal will not destroy college football, but it will ruin it if not checked. 

  8. This will ruin college football. If I’m going to watch professional football, I’ll watch the NFL. Watching 2nd rate pro players is like watching the USFL or CFL

  9. Suddenly Saban starts to cry fowl because Texas has something Bama will never ever have: oil.
    All the wealthy donors that give to Bama and its’ players can never compete with the oil money that spews out of the ground in Texas, and thereby spews from donor pockets into the pockets of players at Texas A&M. Similarly, USC has the mega millions generated from Hollywood celebs and tech alums. Bama simply cannot compete financially for the very best players, so Saban senses his control of the golden goose is about to come to a screeching halt.

  10. Something tells me that even if it is harder for saban than it has been, he’ll be just fine

  11. Saban took a right when he should have stayed left since this is ultimately a labor vs capital issue but point taken, Prime

  12. It’s going to be really awkward at that AFLAC convention this year.
    Also does anyone know if NIL really stands for “Nick Is Lying”.?

  13. The NCAA needs to install a salary (NIL) cap like the NFL if they want parity. Players can make all they want but schools have a max amount that can be paid per team.

  14. Well I guess things on the set of the next Aflac commercial shoot will be a little awkward.

  15. Isn’t it about time that we drop the farcical “student-athlete” phrase? It’s all about the money now so it’s a joke to say that athletes are students.

  16. Funny Saban or any D1 coach would cry about legitimate money kids make vs the illegal perks and money given before NIL. Blue Chips is a great movie. Don’t play stupid Saban. Get your money up.

  17. I’ve loved Deion before he was Prime Time and it was amazing watching him as an extremely talented football player AND Major League baseball player simultaneously! He’s always had a bit of an ego but it was purely fun and not ill-intentioned, mean spirted or nasty and I have to say, he handled this situation to perfection.

    I would LOVE to see him on the big stage in college football someday because the entire nation would be along for the ride, rooting for him while having a blast.

    You go, Deion!

  18. Nick Saban witnessed parity at the NFL level and ran, he doesn’t like a Level Playing Field.

  19. Deion also left a veiled threat when he talked about the “bags” and who the “bagmen” were. In other words, “drag me into this and I’ll go into a deposition and start naming names” so leave me alone and keep me out of this.

    Bravo Deion.

  20. id say Saban is going about this the wrong way… he should be trying to use his name and his school to get players biggers NILs… if he can do that, he can still pull plenty of top talent players…
    even if he can only get them 30k more… could still put a porsche in the driveway

  21. Saban knows he can’t coach his way to championship, he recruits his way to championships. He can’t do that any longer and he’s scared.

  22. So basically what Deion is saying, Nick is telling his boosters “SHOW ME THE MONEY” if you want Alabama to keep rolling. Gotcha.

  23. After years of stomping all over college football… Enjoying a myriad of advantages that few, if any, other programs had… Saban got his first experience of not getting absolutely everything he wanted.

    Then he actually tried to trot out before the press, dressing himself up as a victim. Seriously? The sheer gall and unmitigated ego of the guy is genuinely stupefying.

    Really now Nick, how do those sour grapes from a finally-somewhat-leveling playing field taste again? Tell us what you really fear, uh, feel.

  24. I never really liked Sanders, saw him since High School. Thought he was always a me me me guy. But I now have to say, I am starting to admire him somewhat. You did well Deion, I hope to get to know more of you now.

  25. Who cares. I stopped watching college football five years ago. It was obvious then that Fisher and Saban were buying players. Now there mad that everyone is buying players. It’s stopped being about love of the game a long time ago.

  26. Parity is why Saban didn’t make it in the NFL. It will be the reason he fades away in the NCAA. Parity is coming and fast.

  27. Deion is so full of SH_T. As an FSU grad I know what he did to get his player in question. Barstool sports gave that kid some loot. College football is ruined and there is no coming back.

  28. Sanders, demonstrating all of the awareness and self-control that Fisher lacked.

  29. Bama will still get plenty of talent, but it will no longer be 75% of the top SEC recruits. And bitter Saban may actually have to earn some of his incredibly overcompensated salary… or just leave and let some of the talented younger coaches get a chance.

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