HOOVER, Ala. — Count Nick Saban among those unable to predict the impact of the many recent changes in college athletics, including the ability for players to make money off their brand.
“I almost feel that anything that I say will probably be wrong because there’s no precedent for the consequences that some of the things that we are creating, even if they’re good opportunities,” the Alabama coach said Wednesday at Southeastern Conference media days. “There’s no precedent for the consequences that some of these things are going to create, whether they’re good or bad.”
Saban figures he will have better handle a year from now on the effect of such changes on college football and the players.
Speaking to the Texas High School Coaches Association convention a day earlier, he said new starting quarterback Bryce Young is approaching $1 million in name, images and likeness money.
FISHER VS. SABAN
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has no regrets about his comment about beating Alabama while Saban is the coach.
Fisher, a former Saban assistant, was asked at the Houston Touchdown Club in May about the key to beating the Crimson Tide “other than Saban retiring.” Fisher’s smiling response, according to The Houston Chronicle: “We’re going to beat his ass even when he’s there.”
“That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? Isn’t that why everybody’s here?” Fisher said. “That’s what makes this league this league. That’s what we expect to do at Texas A&M. In saying all that, Nick and I are friends.
“We’ve known each other a long time. We coached together. We’re from the same world, if that makes any sense.”
Alabama was the only team to beat the Aggies last season, winning 52-24 and ultimately keeping them out of the playoff. Saban is 23-0 against former assistants.
Saban has won six national titles at Alabama and a seventh at LSU. Fisher was his offensive coordinator with the Tigers for that 2003 title team.
“I have the utmost respect for what he’s done and what he’s accomplished,” said Fisher, who later won a national title at Florida State in 2013. “He’s the standard, and the standard is what you have to play to.”
Mississippi State coach Mike Leach favors an NCAA Tournament-like expansion of the College Football Playoff.
The CFP is considering expanding from four to 12 teams, with half the field from the highest-ranked conference champions and the other half coming from at-large picks.
“I think 12 teams is a huge step in the right direction,” Leach said. “I personally would like to see 64, and you could format it out pretty easily, but I think it’s a huge step the right direction, and I look forward to it.”
Leach also veered from the media days norm, skipping the opening statement that most of his peers use to discuss their teams. Some coaches talk for 20 minutes before taking questions.
“I’m not a big opening statement guy, and plus you guys are going to ask whatever you want to know anyway, so let’s just go ahead and get started,” Leach said. “Is there any questions?”
Leach also declined to say whether he had been vaccinated for COVID-19.
New Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea brought along evidence of his ties to the university: The helmet from his playing days with the Commodores. It rested on the table beside the podium as he addressed reporters.
“I’d always dreamed that my football helmet would one day end up in the Hall of Fame,” Lea said. “Unfortunately, since it’s here, I didn’t quite reach that level of performance, but I’m glad to have my old head gear with me in my first media day experience.”
A former Notre Dame defensive coordinator, Lea was a fullback for two seasons at Vanderbilt, where he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He keeps the helmet in his office at Vandy.
“It’s just a connection to my time as a student-athlete … both the things that I celebrate in my time as a student-athlete, but also the things that I came back to change about what it means to play football at Vanderbilt,” Lea said. “Keeping that reminder nearby just, again, is another way to keep my focus on what’s really important.”