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Jumbo Package: Nick Saban continues to excel in NIL world, but warns of “thunderbolt”

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: SEC Football Championship-Georgia at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. Chase Goodbread wrote about how Saban continues to excel recruiting in the NIL world.

That’s not to say, of course, that the elite recruits Saban continues to stack so high aren’t set up for lucrative NIL deals. Alabama has deep pockets for NIL, and far deeper for football than in any other sport. Putting together the nation’s No. 2-ranked signing class necessarily means the Crimson Tide must be competitive in the NIL space.

But Saban, despite the tectonic shift in the recruiting landscape that NIL has brought about, hasn’t changed the player-development core of his pitch to recruits. That’s a wise approach, because while there will always be the occasional recruit who gets away because another school’s collective ponied up more dollars, Alabama continues to stand apart from its recruiting competition thanks to a Saban specialty: creating clear paths to the NFL.

An example of “Not a Saban Recruit:”

Saban doesn’t see the current path as sustainable, but thinks a cataclysmic event will have to happen for anything to change.

“I think it’s going to continue in the same direction that it’s going until something happens, I call it a ‘thunderbolt,’ where maybe people start dropping sports because the finance part can’t make sense in terms of what you can reinvest in non-revenue sports, or some players out there don’t get what they were promised and there’s lots of lawsuits and stuff,” Saban said.

“I mean, there’s going to be some kind of a thunderbolt because this is not a system that we have right now that has any guardrails and in most competitive venues there are some guardrails that sort of control what you can and can’t do, whether it’s the NFL in terms of where you pick in the draft to create parity or whatever it is. Right now, it’s a game of whoever’s willing to invest the most has the best chance to have the best team.”

At some point, a collective is going to be unable to meet its obligations, and that is where the proverbial shit will hit the fan.

Saban laments the loss of tradition.

“I think there’s a great argument for the traditions of college football,” Saban said. “College football has been great for a lot of people. It’s been great for fans, it’s been a great opportunity for many guys, not just in football but in all sports. I think I read a stat where 82% of people who won medals in the Olympics got trained in college. So, some of that is all going to change.”

Dennis Dodd has a nice piece on how some of those traditions were sacrificed some 30 years ago.

Before being ushered out of the meeting, Petitti and Swanson provided a glimpse into the future.

“What we basically said is, ‘It’s shifting. It’s more about 1 vs. 2. It’s not about traditional Rose Bowl matchups anymore,” Petitti recalled. “I’m not sure we believed it. We didn’t have any plan.”

But they did have it right ... eventually. Incrementally, that exclusive club was shape shifting.

“I think they all wanted a 1 vs. 2, but the other motivation [was] … they didn’t want the control of the college football championships to go to the NCAA,” Petitti said.

In Rose Bowl news, we won’t be listening to Eli Gold.

Chris Stewart, Tyler Watts and Roger Hoover will be calling the Rose Bowl on the radio for Crimson Tide Sports Network, according to the Alabama football game notes ahead of the matchup vs. Michigan.

Stewart will be on play by play, Watts will be the analyst and Hoover will be the sideline reporter. Longtime play-by-play announcer Eli Gold will not be on the call for the game.

Last, please forward this contest to the Alabama defense. Thanks in advance.

Every time Michigan football scores a touchdown in the Rose Bowl vs. Alabama on Jan. 1, 2024, we’re giving away a TV. All you have to do is enter below and you’ll be in the running to win.

Every time they score a touchdown, we’ll draw another winner. All winners will be announced on Local 4 News at 6 a.m. on Jan. 2. You can enter every hour through the end of the game.

May no TVs be won.

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.