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What Nick Saban Said at 2023 SEC Spring Meetings

By Austin Hannon,


Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban appeared at the 2023 SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla. on Tuesday morning.

Here's a full transcript of everything Saban said on Tuesday:

Opening Statement

"First of all, I guess we welcome everybody to SEC meetings. I think this is my 22nd year. Not all here obviously. COVID was an issue. I hope everybody had a great Memorial Day weekend and like to use this opportunity publicly to thank all the veterans for their service and helping to help us have the quality of life and the safety that we have. So their service and sacrifice is certainly appreciated."

"Other than that, from a football standpoint, not really much going on right now. You know, players are not in school during May, and our guys just report back yesterday and today to start summer school and actually start working out tomorrow and going through a typical summer, trying to help develop players and improve your roster and improve your team. And obviously these meetings will probably try to address some of the things that will plot the course of the SEC as well as college football, so always interesting to be a part of that."

On what he is trying to accomplish with these meetings…

"What am I trying to accomplish? I get an agenda for the meeting, and we go through the agenda. It's not my meetings. I have an agenda when I have a staff meeting and it's all my coaches there, then that’s my agenda. This is not my agenda, so I just do whatever I'm told."

On if he’s just taking the marching orders…

"There's some days. I've been taking marching orders for the last four days because I've been with Miss Terry at the lake cleaning boats, boat houses, garages and all that. Now, I'm on somebody else's agenda for today and tomorrow, and then I get back on my agenda when I get back and have people that I can tell what to do."

On if he still favors a 9-game SEC schedule…

"I think whatever happens happens. I think there's so many things that probably sort of go into this in terms of eight games versus nine games, including TV contracts and things that are way beyond my scope of visibility that I'm sure a lot of those things will sort of factor into it. But I still am always of the opinion that we should play all Division-I games. I've said this for years. So whether there's 60 teams in the Power 5 conferences or 70 teams or however many there are, that it's better for fans it's better for strength of schedule that we all play all Power 5 games. So however we get to that. I think that's the best thing."

“I think one of the more difficult things with going to nine games is we've tried to schedule two out-of-conference, Power 5 games to try to improve our strength of schedule. Over the next, I don't know, seven, eight, nine, 10 years, and if we go to nine games, we'll have to unwind that. So my deal was always play more SEC games because we couldn't get other people to schedule. So now I think there's more people in tune to scheduling, so having a balance is probably the most important thing."

On his message to Alabama Athletics as a whole…

"Yeah, well, we do a lot of good stuff. I mean, I think we have a great record of history of academic support with our athletes. I think we still probably have 500 people doing really good things and maybe a handful, four or five, that made some kind of error in judgment or did something that they obviously all suffer consequences for that we would rather not happen, and we are doing all kinds of personal development programs, educational programs, all kinds of training programs to try to get guys to make the best choices and decisions possible."

“But that also includes staff. I mean, we're the leaders of the organization. We all have a responsibility and obligation to set a good example and do the right things, and it's not one of these things when you're a parent that you say do as I say, not as I do. I think we have to say the right things and do the right things to set the right kind of example for everyone in the organization to be responsible to the brand. We have an iconic brand at Alabama."

“I just went to Italy. I got Roll Tided in Venice, Florence Ferrari plant, Rome, Amalfi Coast, in the elevator, walking down the street, it didn't matter, and we all have a responsibility and obligation to that brand. And there's a lot of people who've worked for many, many years to create the tradition that that brand represents. And I think we all have a responsibility, an obligation to live up to that in terms of what we do, whether we're staff or player.”

On if he feels the need to renew his focus when talking to team about gambling…

"Yeah, we've always done that. That's always been a part of the personal development program. We've had Michael Franzese talk to the team, who's one of the best guys when it comes to gambling, and we've got gambling education programs. But I think one of the more difficult things is when you make things legal and all of a sudden there's so much more access to – people are gambling and don't even know they're gambling on some of these social media things that I don't even know how to operate or run or ever been involved with. So I think you have to be more diligent about how you approach it with players so that they understand the consequences of even some of the slightest things that they may do when it comes to gambling."

“But there's a lot of things that we need to educate players on so that they don't get in trouble, as well as staff, and I think it's all very, very important. And every time these things come up, we try to make the adaptations that we need to make so that we anticipate what could happen and try to avoid it. My dad used to always say, “It's a lot easier close the barn door before the horse gets out,’ and I've always kind of tried to live with that message. And that's the same thing we do with some of the things that come up as challenges in college athletics.”

On if he is in favor of an availability report or some sort of transparency on rosters…

“Never really thought about it. But most of the things they do in the NFL, because they invest a significant amount of money in their business, is really to protect their business. And most of those things are usually well thought out and are advantageous to protect the game, which is what I think you know, all these things that we're talking about now basically would be enforced to do would be to protect the game and the player that play the game.”

On if he feels we’re losing the soul of college football…

“I would certainly agree that there are some challenges that the current situation that we're in presents in terms of amateur athletics. Name, image and likeness is a good thing for players to have the opportunity to make money, but when it turns into pay for play, then now you're getting into a different area. And I think when you start talking about players being employees, you're talking about unions, you're talking about now you're getting paid for something, you have to take tax – and we probably invest, I don't know – Greg Byrne could tell you better – $85,000 to $100,000 on every player that we have, whether it's academic support, tutoring, personal development programs, whatever it might be, there's a tremendous investment that's made in player development, not only football-wise but academically as well as personally."

“So you're gonna have to start paying tax on all that just because you gotta tutor, you got to pay tax on what it cost. I don't know. You have to pay tax on the gear that you get. So all of these things to me – I made the statement years ago and I got very criticized for it, is this what we want college football to become? So now it's kind of becoming that, and I don't think it's going to be a level playing field because some people are showing a willingness to spend more than others where if you want to bring the NFL into it, they have a salary cap, they have all the things that level the playing field. And we could put guidelines on some of this stuff that would do the same thing."

“I think the big mistake that people make is college athletics is not a business. People say it's a business. It's not a business. It's revenue-producing. When I was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, Wayne Huizenga owned a team. That was a business. He took a profit he made money, he made a huge investment. That doesn't happen in college athletics. We reinvest every cent that gets made into to non-revenue sports, to scholarships, to a lot of things that create a lot of opportunity for a lot of people, which is really, really good."

“So we're not talking about the same thing. It's not really a business, it's revenue-producing, and nobody takes a profit. All the money gets reinvested in other opportunities for other people, whether it's facilities, whether it's scholarships, whether it's opportunities for people to play. And if we continue down this road, are we going to be able to continue to have those opportunities I think those are all good questions that somebody probably ought to answer.”

On how he feels about taking that profit and making players employees…

“Yeah, I have no problem with that. Unionize it, make it like the NFL. If it's gonna be the same for everyone, I think that's better than what we have now. Because what we have now is we have some states and some schools are in some states that are investing a lot more money in terms of managing their roster than others, and I think this is going to create a real competitive disadvantage for some in the future. And it's also going to create an imbalance in the competitive nature of the sport, which that's not good for the sport."

“Everything they do in the NFL is to create what? Parody, parody. And if they could have everybody going into the 17th week of the season at 8-8 that would be like a dream for the NFL. Because every team would be watched every fan wouldn't be watching their team to see if they get in the playoffs. Well, you think there's disparity in college football right now? There’s gonna be a lot more in the future.”

This transcript is courtesy of Charlie Potter and 247Sports' BamaOnLine.

See Also:

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Nate Oats: Charles Bediako's NBA Draft Decision "Surprised Us"

Nate Oats: "We Anticipate Quinerly Coming Back"

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