July 19, 2022; Atlanta,GA, USA; Alabama head coach Nick Saban signs autographs for fans during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama At Sec Media Days

Alabama trustees OK 8-year, $93.6M extension for Nick Saban

Nick Saban will remain as Alabama’s football coach on an eight-year deal worth $93.6 million after university trustees approved the contract extension Tuesday.

With the contract, the 70-year-old Saban again will become college football’s highest-paid coach. His contract will pay an average yearly salary of $11.7 million, surpassing the $11.25 million annual average value of the 10-year contract Kirby Smart signed with Georgia in July.

Saban now is under contract through February 2030, when he will be 78.

In the 2022 season, Saban will earn $10.7 million. His salary will rise incrementally to $12.7 million in the 2029 season, The Athletic reported.

Saban is entering his 16th season as head coach of the Crimson Tide. Since his hiring before the 2007 campaign, Alabama has a 183-25 record with six national championships and three losing appearances in the title game.

The Crimson Tide have appeared in six of the past seven NCAA College Football Playoff championship games, winning three and losing three. They were voted this week as the nation’s preseason No. 1. team.

Trustees also approved a three-year contract extension for athletic director Greg Byrne through 2029. The Athletic reported he will receive a 5 percent raise.

–Field Level Media

Jul 19, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama head coach Nick Saban talks to the media during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban: Alabama players surpass $3M in NIL deals

Alabama players made more than $3 million in name, image and likeness earnings in 2021, but Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban wants more uniform rules to even the playing field.

The Crimson Tide, led by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, remain at the center of arguments for stronger policing of the NIL policy that began one year ago and has been a flashpoint for debate in the SEC.

“I’m all for the players doing as well as they can and using their name, image and likeness to create value,” Saban said Tuesday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta. “We have a great brand at Alabama so players (are) going to be enhanced because of the value that our brand can help them create. … (NIL) is not an issue for us at Alabama.”

Dominant by most measures since Saban took over, Alabama might have an edge over many programs during the NIL era. That, and not what Texas A&M or Ole Miss might be up to in recruiting, is Saban’s biggest offseason 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 of factors that are important in that,” Saban said. “How does this impact competitive balance in college athletics? Is there transparency to maintain fairness across the board in terms of college athletics? … How does this impact recruiting? On the recruiting trail right now, there’s a lot of people using this as inducements to go to their schools by making promises.”

Per reports, Young has agreements valued at more than $1 million for 2022 and the reigning Heisman winner could continue to prosper with the Crimson Tide expected to be near the front of the college football pack again this season. Alabama won 13 games in 2021 but finished as runner-up to Georgia in the national title game.

Young passed for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season to claim the Heisman. He’s the latest in a run of Alabama quarterbacks who’ve produced at the top tier in college football for a program once known for its strangling defense.

“Early on, we’ve learned it was hard to win on defense in college football. If you have a dominant defensive team that couldn’t score points against the really good teams — that could be a problem,” Saban said. “We made the change to be a wide-open offense. We were able to attract quarterbacks of a caliber that really has helped us become one of the best offensive teams in the country. … I’m really proud of the fact that our last three quarterbacks are starters in the NFL, and the one we have now won the Heisman Trophy.”

–Field Level Media

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher blasted Alabama's Nick Saban earlier this week.

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Report: A&M asked SEC to consider suspending Nick Saban

Texas A&M beseeched the SEC to consider fining and suspending Alabama coach Nick Saban for publicly stating that the Aggies “bought every player” through NIL deals, On3 reported Monday.

The website says it obtained communications between Texas A&M and the SEC on May 19 through an open records request. Texas A&M sent an email and had multiple phone conversations with SEC commissioner Greg Sankey the morning after Saban’s infamous comments, On3 reported.

“We expect the league to take strong, public action against Coach Saban and the University of Alabama to demonstrate that such unprofessionalism and disrespect for Texas A&M’s student-athletes, coaches, and the university as a whole, will not be tolerated,” read the email sent by A&M athletics director Ross Bjork and co-signed by university president Katherine Banks.

“A public apology from Coach Saban to Coach Fisher, Aggie Football, and Texas A&M University is a good starting point, but the league should also consider monetary and participation penalties against Coach Saban,” the email stated, per On3.

Sankey was working on a reprimand of Saban but added A&M coach Jimbo Fisher to it after the latter’s press conference, when he said “somebody should have slapped” Saban, among other jabs.

Saban’s incendiary comments came May 18 during an event with more than 100 business leaders in Birmingham, Ala. Saban made the initial comments to point out that the wild-west nature of NIL deals for players is not sustainable. And he took aim at Texas A&M’s recruiting class, ranked No. 1 in the country.

“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said. “We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness.

Saban has since apologized multiple times for singling out A&M — as well as Jackson State and Miami — during his speech.

–Field Level Media

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher andAlabama head coach Nick Saban chat at midfield before the Alabama vs. Texas A&M game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday September 22, 2018.

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Nick Saban reiterates he regrets naming names in NIL flap

Alabama coach Nick Saban again tried to defuse a dustup of his own creation with Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, saying Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings that, “I didn’t really say anybody did anything wrong,” and that he has “no problem” with Fisher.

Saban again said that he regrets naming specific institutions two weeks ago at a fundraising event when he used Texas A&M and Jackson State as examples of how NIL money is being used improperly in recruiting. That sparked a response from Fisher in which he denied the accusations and lambasted Saban.

Talking to reporters on the opening day of SEC spring meetings, Saban said, “You know, I didn’t really say anybody did anything wrong.” Saban was interrupted by a reporter who said: “You said they bought their recruiting class.”

“I didn’t say anybody did anything wrong,” Saban repeated. “I said everything I’m going to say about this. … I should have never mentioned individual institutions.”

Saban said he supports players’ access to NIL income but suggested the lack of enforceable national rules creates an untenable situation.

“Some kind of uniform name, image and likeness stand that supports equitable national competition is really, really important for college football,” Saban said. “And we’ve always had that with scholarships, Alston money or whatever that might be. So that’s kind of point one.

“Point two is we need some kind of transparency in name, imagine and likeness deals to verify that players are doing what they need to do to have the opportunity to make in name, image and likeness. Believe me, I’m all for players making as much as they can. But I also think that we’ve got to have some uniform, transparent way to do that.”

Four other SEC head coaches wouldn’t touch the subject of the simmering feud, which has been the talk of college football since Saban’s May 18 comments and the response from Fisher, who was a Saban assistant for five years at LSU.

Fisher, who has refused to accept calls from Saban, was not scheduled to speak Tuesday but a Texas A&M representative said he might speak later in the week.

–Field Level Media

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher andAlabama head coach Nick Saban chat at midfield before the Alabama vs. Texas A&M game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday September 22, 2018.

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Nick Saban: Texas A&M ‘bought every player on team’

Alabama coach Nick Saban called out Texas A&M and two other schools during a speech for leveraging name, image and likeness (NIL) deals to attract players, adding that the Aggies “bought every player on their team.”

Saban’s incendiary comments came Wednesday night during an event with more than 100 business leaders in Birmingham, Ala.

Saban made the comments to point out that the wild-west nature of NIL deals for players is not sustainable. And he took aim at Texas A&M’s recruiting class, ranked No. 1 in the country.

“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said at an event for July’s World Games in Birmingham. “We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness.

“We didn’t buy one player, all right? But I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future, because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”

Saban also called out Jackson State and Miami basketball.

“Hell, read about it in the paper. Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year that was a really good Division I player to come to the school,” Saban said, referring to five-star prospect Travis Hunter who flipped from Florida State to the HBCU school coached by Deion Sanders.

“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.”

Saban was referring to Nijel Pack, who transferred from Kansas State to Miami and then inked a $400,000 NIL deal with LifeWallet.

Sanders responded on Twitter, calling Saban’s assertion about Hunter a lie.

–Field Level Media

Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban on retirement: ‘Retire from what?’

Alabama head coach Nick Saban deals with his share of retirement speculation, and with good reason. The coach has reached the mountaintop on multiple occasions and turned 70 on Oct. 31 of last year.

But the seven-time national championship winner and two-time AP National Coach of the Year doesn’t see retirement as being a short-term option, as he delivered in comments to the Alabama Football Coaches Association Jan. 27, which were briefly posted to Twitter before being taken down Monday.

“Everybody asks me when I wanna retire. Retire from what?” Saban said. “I’m gonna jump into an empty abyss … of what am I going to do? Because the very challenges that I talk about and the things in our profession that concern me — for you and for me both, in your game and our game — that’s what keeps me going.

“That’s why I get up every day. That’s why I can’t sleep at night sometimes.”

Saban has compiled a 274-67-1 record over 26 seasons as a head coach. His 15-year run at Alabama has produced a 183-25 record and six of his seven national titles.

The Crimson Tide most recently lost to Georgia 33-18 in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 10.

–Field Level Media

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) avoids Georgia's Jordan Davis (99) during the SEC championship game Dec. 4 in Atlanta.

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Kirby Smart: Solving Bryce Young ‘ultimate challenge’ of CFP title game

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart had a front-row seat for the SEC championship game as the Bulldogs — then ranked No. 1 in the nation — were thumped by third-ranked Alabama 41-24.

More recently, Smart has studied the tape of the Crimson Tide’s 27-6 win over Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

After viewing Alabama’s last two performances at length, Smart summed up the situation succinctly on Sunday afternoon.

“That’s the ultimate challenge,” Smart said of Alabama, which faces off against Georgia for the national championship on Monday night in Indianapolis.

Smart, more specifically, was referring to the difficulty of facing Alabama’s multi-dimensional offense led by quarterback Bryce Young.

The Heisman Trophy winner torched the Bulldogs for 421 passing yards and three touchdowns in last month’s SEC title game. Then against the Bearcats on New Year’s Eve, Young took a backseat to the Crimson Tide’s talented rushing attack. He still threw three touchdowns in that contest, but he only accumulated 181 passing yards, while Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for 204 of the team’s 301 yards on the ground.

Yet, despite the multiple facets of Alabama’s offense, Smart realizes that the No. 1 enemy has to be Young, who has thrown for 4,503 yards and 46 touchdowns with only five interceptions this season.

“You look across the board at the efficiency with which Bryce Young has played with,” Smart continued, “and he’s got good weapons around him. He’s got a really good team around him. But make no mistake about it, he is elite at what he does.”

As for Saban, who is trying to win his seventh national championship at Alabama (and his eighth overall), the veteran coach knows it all starts with his sophomore signal-caller.

“Bryce does about as good a job as anybody we’ve ever had in our program in terms of how he prepares for a game, how he studies the other team, how he knows the ins and outs of what we want to try to execute and what we want to try to do on offense,” Saban said Sunday.

Saban’s squad will seek to complete its most recent run to the title against a team that Saban described Sunday as “outstanding.”

“They’ve been one of the most consistent, well-coached teams all year long,” Saban noted of the Bulldogs. “And it’s certainly going to be a great challenge for us to have the opportunity to play them.”

The feeling is mutual from Smart, who is hoping to guide Georgia to its first national championship since the 1980 season. All it will take is solving the greatest college football program of the 21st century.

“We’ve gotten to see them once already and know how good they are,” Smart said. “They really do not have weaknesses across the board. They’re playing really, really good football right now. And it should be a tremendous challenge for our team tomorrow night.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban shakes hands with Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart before the 2018 CFP national championship college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj/CFP Images/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Smart downplays 0-3 record against Nick Saban

Georgia coach Kirby Smart couldn’t avoid the question.

For all Georgia has done in his six seasons, especially the last five when he’s led the Bulldogs to a 56-9 record, four Southeastern Conference East division titles, an SEC title and a national championship game appearance, he’s being asked about the one thing his team hasn’t done in three tries.

And that’s beat the third-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1), who the top-ranked Bulldogs (12-0) meet in the SEC title game on Saturday in Atlanta.

Smart’s Bulldogs have played Alabama, where Smart served primarily as defensive coordinator under coach Nick Saban from 2007-2015, three times.

He hasn’t beaten his former boss, despite the Bulldogs outplaying the Crimson Tide for the majority of the three games collectively.

Alabama defeated Georgia to win the 2017 national championship game and followed that with a victory in the 2018 SEC title game before a 41-24 win in the regular season in 2020.

“This year is this year, and every year is independent of the previous,” Smart said. “I don’t think there’s any overlap between the two. I know people want to make it that, make it some kind of overlap.”

In the first two games, Alabama never had the ball with the lead, yet won both. DeVonta Smith caught a walk-off, game-winning touchdown pass in overtime on Jan. 8, 2018. Jalen Hurts ran for the game-winning touchdown a year later, with the Crimson Tide’s defense securing the win as time expired.

Last season, Georgia led Alabama 24-20 at halftime in Tuscaloosa before the Crimson Tide outscored Georgia 21-0 in the second half to roll to a 41-24 win. It was the only time Alabama trailed at the half in any of their 13 games during their undefeated title run.

Alabama, with current New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones throwing for 417 yards, outgained Georgia 564-414. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who is expected to start on Saturday, went 18-for-40 passing for 269 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Alabama has won six straight over Georgia dating to 2008, with half the wins coming in championship games.

Smart, of course, downplayed the past, choosing to focus on the present, where Georgia opened as a six-point favorite over the SEC West Division champion and third-ranked Crimson Tide.

“Our job is to go play the best possible game we can,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to build towards this year. We haven’t played our best yet, and we think our best is still out there. That’s the goal.”

Saban agreed. But he’s also looking at the game as an underdog for just the second time in more than a dozen years. Then-No. 13 Alabama was a one-point underdog when it rolled into Athens to face then-No. 8 Georgia on Oct. 15, 2015.

Alabama won, 38-10, and two months later, Smart was hired to replace the fired Mark Richt. Alabama went on to win the national title that season to begin a run of three championships in six seasons.

“What’s happened in the past in games really doesn’t have a lot of impact on what happens in the future. You’ve got to line up and play well in this game,” said Saban, who is 24-1 against former assistants after losing to coach Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M Aggies in October. “What happened last year doesn’t matter. What happened the year before that doesn’t matter. You’ve got to play well in this game.”

No team has played well enough this season to beat Georgia, which remained the unanimous top-ranked team in The Associated Press poll for the eighth straight week. The Bulldogs are a week shy of tying Alabama’s record of nine straight weeks during the 2018 season, which ended with the Crimson Tide losing to Clemson in the national title game.

But Smart is concerned with Saturday.

“The years I spent at Alabama you could say that winning the SEC championship was just as hard as trying to win a national championship, and it’s one of our goals,” he said. “We want to put it on the wall here, and to do that, you’ve got to win the SEC. That’s what we’re focused on.”

–Field Level Media

Apr 17, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; White quarterback Bryce Young (9) scrambles for a first down after moving away from Crimson linebacker Christopher Allen (4) during the Alabama A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

No surprise: Alabama names Bryce Young its starting QB

Preseason No. 1 Alabama will have Bryce Young at quarterback in the season opener against No. 14 Miami, coach Nick Saban announced Monday in perhaps college football’s most unsurprising news of the upcoming season.

Young had been the presumed heir apparent to Mac Jones, a first-round draft pick by the New England Patriots in April, since Jones announced he was entering the draft shortly after the Crimson Tide won the College Football Playoff in January.

“Bryce has done a nice job,” Saban said Monday in making the announcement. “He’s confident and accurate with the ball.”

Last season, Young appeared in nine games as a freshman. The 6-foot, 194-pound QB from Southern California completed 13 of 22 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Young was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2020, according to the 247Sports composite. He played his high school football at powerhouse Mater Dei.

Marketers already had taken note of Young well in advance of Saban’s announcement. Under new regulations that allow players to cash in on their name, image and likeness, Young already had deals worth nearly $1 million as of late July.

The Crimson Tide and Hurricanes are set to play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

–Field Level Media

Apr 17, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; White quarterback Bryce Young (9) throws over Crimson defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis (5) during the Alabama A-Day game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Saban: QB Bryce Young nears $1M in endorsements

Alabama coach Nick Saban said Tuesday “our quarterback” has racked up nearly $1 million in endorsements, a presumptive reference to redshirt freshman quarterback Bryce Young.

Saban made the comments speaking at the Texas High School Coaches Association convention. Young, who signed a deal with Creative Artists Agency on July 2, hasn’t even officially been named the starter for the Crimson Tide this season.

The NCAA allowed college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) on July 1.

“Our quarterback already has approached ungodly numbers — I’m not going to say what they are — and he hasn’t even played yet. Hasn’t even started,” Saban said Tuesday. “… It’s almost seven figures. And it’s like, the guy hasn’t even played yet. But that’s because of our brand.”

Young is expected to be named the starter for the Crimson Tide after piloting the first team in the spring game.

Young was the No. 2 overall player in the Class of 2020, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He played in seven games last season backing up Mac Jones and threw 22 passes.

Saban’s reveal flabbergasted Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, who was informed of Saban’s comments Tuesday afternoon at SEC Media Days.

“I’m still blown away on this Bryce Young (news),” Kiffin said. “The guy’s made a million dollars already? He’s good, man. He doesn’t need to play this year against us.”

–Field Level Media