Unless you live on the moon or somewhere beneath the mantle deep within the earth's core, you heard about the war of words between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher a couple of weeks ago. Saban accused Texas A&M of "buying" its entire recruiting class, which happened to be the No. 1 class in the country. Fisher called Saban a narcissist, among other things, and defended his integrity to the hilt. To be perfectly honest, I found it endlessly entertaining to see Saint Nick with a little egg on his face and to hear Jimbo blast his former mentor while ultimately come off looking like someone who needs to be on medication. At the SEC Spring Meetings in Florida last week, Saban practiced a little revisionist history by saying he technically didn't say anybody did anything wrong. However, he did say that Alabama did things the "right" way this past year implying that the Aggies did things the "wrong" way. Regardless, both parties are apparently moving on and this feud has sadly been put to bed at least for now.
Of course, just because we were spared fisticuffs between an out of shape 56-year-old and a septuagenarian (which I would actually pay money to see), it doesn't mean the argument wasn't valid. Saban was simply amplifying the frustration that has overwhelmed college football since NIL legislation was turned loose on the sport like a plague. I believe in the American capitalistic system. I have no problem with any person being given the opportunity to cash in on their ability and talent. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. College football is unique. It doesn't operate under the same principles as traditional economics in all areas. For instance, it's actually still illegal to pay a college athlete to play college athletics. The idea behind NIL was merely to allow athletes to profit from the great success and celebrity that comes with being on TV and winning football games. However, it took about five minutes for NIL to be inextricably intertwined with recruiting. Which is still supposed to be illegal, by the way. There's cheese in my refrigerator older than this legislation, but it's already come down to "buying" recruiting classes. I don't know for a fact what kind of deals Texas A&M set up for their players. Neither does anyone else despite them reporting that "sources" said they shelled out somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day told his boosters just the other day that it was going to take $12 million (presumably a year) to maintain their roster. This is not giving kids an opportunity to profit from their success. This is recruiting to the highest bidder. Apparently, no one is even pretending anymore. I don't have the answers, but I do agree with Saban wholeheartedly that the system as it stands is unsustainable. If college football continues racing down the road it's on at breakneck speed, I see no other alternative but the professionalization of the sport. That means salaries, unions, agents and the death of a sport I used to love. Don't get me wrong, it will continue on and probably be more successful than ever. Millions of fans will continue to love it and a new generation won't even know the difference. Unfortunately for relics like me, it'll just never be the same.