Nick Saban has been as outspoken as anyone about his feelings towards college players who opt out of the NCAA, and in to the NFL Draft. Is he right?
The Alabama head football coach is making headlines on Sunday. In an interview, the Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban was outspoken as anyone about his feelings towards underclassmen who opt out of college for early entry into the NFL Draft. Is he right?
Saban, clearly referencing former Crimson Tide and current Jacksonville Jaguars safety Ronnie Harrison II, stated:
“If you’re a third-round draft pick, and we had one here last year — I’m not going to say any names — goes and starts for his team, so he’s making third-round money, which is not that great. He’d be the first guy taken at his position this year, probably, and make $15-18 million more. So, the agent makes out, the club makes out, and now they’ve got a guy that’s going to play for that kind of money for three more years.”
Harrison has responded on his personal Twitter: “Coaches get so Butt Hurt Now Days About a Kid Making a Decision to live out his dreams and Go Pro. Makes me think do you really care about the success of the kid or how well your program performs?”
Who is correct?
Harrison makes a pretty good point here. Saban’s job would be a lot easier if every top recruit he brought in played for four years. And, for these players that Saban perceives as abandoning the program and going back on their scholarship commitment – how much does he really care about them, versus competing for another national championship?
It also seems juvenile of Saban to criticize a kid for making a decision to get paid to do something they love. To do that, and not have the pressures/commitments of school, and to have the freedom to make money off your likeness, why not?
The NCAA’s continued decision to not pay athletes makes this a more troubling statement on the head coach’s part. To a degree, he’s arguing that students should continue to work towards making him more money.
There are definitely instances of players making more money than they would have by going back to school for a year, and of players who make significantly less because they chose to leave early. Every year a slew of players take the gamble, and for some it pays off, and for others it doesn’t. But there are motives behind each person’s decision that we can never understand: a family that needs the income, children to raise, the pressures of being a college student being too much, etc.
There are also instances where people should consider going back to school. Fringe NFL starters, in particular, must consider whether getting a college degree will be necessary for them to make a living for the rest of their lives. If they believe they will need to (and the vast majority will), weighing the pros of a short-term payoff against the con of losing a “free” college education is important. The average length of an NFL career is 3.3 years.
This year 103 underclassmen declared for the draft. Nine of them are likely to be drafted in the top 10. It is not an easy decision for any of them, though.