Nick Saban said he reached out to Deion Sanders and Jimbo Fisher in the hours after candidly claiming that both head coaches used name, image and likeness to sign recruits.
Appearing on Sirius XM College Thursday, the Alabama head coach said he reached out to Sanders and Fisher after he alleged Jackson State paid No. 1 recruit Travis Hunter a $1 million dollar NIL deal before saying that Texas A&M “bought every player” in its current recruiting class.
“I reached out to them (Jimbo and Deion). Never got a response,” said Saban. “I feel bad about it. I’m not changing my philosophy. I look at the betterment of college football, the game. I should have never singled anyone out. That was a mistake. I apologize for that.”
Saban explained that his statements Wednesday night were in relation to a NIL system that is wrought with various issues and needs oversight.
“I really wasn’t saying anybody did anything illegal in using NIL,” he said. “That was something assumed by what I said. It’s not what I meant. There’s nothing illegal about doing this. It’s the system. That’s the issue I have.
“I don’t think NIL is the issue. I think collectives are the issue.”
Fisher fired back at Saban in a press conference calling the coach a narcissist among other unfavorable traits.
“Some people think they are God,” Fisher said of Saban. “Go dig into how God did his deal and you may find out a lot about a lot of things you don’t want to know. We build him up to be this czar of football, go dig into his past.
“You can find out anything you want to find out or what he does or how he does it.”
Saban and Fisher were both reprimanded by the SEC for comments that violated league by-laws related to “ethical conduct for derogatory comments and public criticism of another institution’s athletics program.”
Sanders teased that he would be making a public response to Saban soon about what he characterized as a lie the coach told.
In an interview with ESPN’s Andscape, Sanders said he wants to talk to Saban publicly about the comments.
“I haven’t talked to Coach Saban. I’m sure he’s tried to call. We need to talk publicly — not privately. What you said was public. That doesn’t require a conversation. Let’s talk publicly and let everybody hear the conversation,” Sanders told the website.
“You can’t do that publicly and call privately. No, no, no. I still love him. I admire him. I respect him. He’s the magna cum laude of college football and that’s what it’s going to be because he’s earned that.
“But he took a left when he should’ve stayed right. I’m sure he’ll get back on course. I ain’t tripping.”
Sanders suggested that Saban’s angst wasn’t necessarily directed at him or Fisher. It was aimed at a new system that threatened his ability to maintain the level of influence in attaining recruits.
“Coach Saban wasn’t talking to me. Coach Saban wasn’t talking to Jimbo Fisher. He was talking to his boosters. He was talking to his alumni. He was talking to his givers. He was trying to get money,” Sanders said. “That was what he was doing. He was just using us to get to where he was trying to get to.”