Everything Nick Saban said at 2022 SEC Media Days


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks at 2022 SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Ga.

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Contributing Columnist

The 2022 edition of the SEC Media Days has begun in Atlanta, Georgia. Leading off the second day of the event was the Alabama Crimson Tide. Head coach Nick Saban settled the pounding rain and addressed the media ahead of his 21st season in the SEC.  

When asked if he controlled the weather, Nick Saban said, “I don’t think so.” 

On QB Bryce Young and LB Will Anderson Jr.  

Of course, one of the hot topics for Saban is two of his star players: quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson. Saban said he didn’t want to compare teams, but he can’t recall having a team with two players with such significant contributions.  

“We’ve had some great impact players, but never one on offense, one on defense, of the caliber that these guys have been able to play on a consistent basis,” Saban said.  

Each player’s impact on the field is well documented, but for Saban, Anderson and Young make bigger impacts on the players around them. Saban said that Anderson and Young are people players can emulate because of the example they set.  

“These guys are very serving to their teammates in terms of they really do care about helping other people for their benefit,” Saban said. “These guys have not only been great players, they’ve contributed from a leadership standpoint probably as significantly as any leaders that we’ve had — and we’ve had some really good leaders in our program and organization,”  

Saban added that you couldn’t ask for two better people on the team and that he’s excited to be the head coach to have them.  

“I’ve always said that when the best players on your team are really good people with great attitude and great mindset, it’s really helpful to developing the type of team chemistry you need to have a successful team,” Saban said.  

On HBCUs gaining popularity:  

The college football world was shocked when five-star recruit Travis Hunter announced he would attend Jackson State University instead of Florida State University. This particular event showed just how much traction HBCUs are gaining on the recruiting trail. Saban said that we could see Alabama eventually playing a local HBCU in the future.  

“I’ve always been an advocate of playing in-state schools because I think it sort of helps them raise their level and their ability to compete, which obviously if you do that, you also contribute to how successful the players in those organizations can be,” Saban said. “I would be very much in favor of that.”  

Saban also noted that talented players will continue to commit to FCS schools because of the opportunities being created at that level, something he called a “good thing.”  

On student reporters:  

Saban is not known to give advice to members of the media, but he gave some tips for students going to cover Alabama vs. Texas on Sept. 10.  

“First of all, I would say that there’s nothing in my job description that would indicate that I’m qualified to answer that.” Saban said.  “I think fair and honest always works. I think it’s a great opportunity for these young people to be able to cover a game of significance.” 

To him, that’s all he can ask from reporters.  

On having four Heisman Trophy winners:  

Before Saban came to Tuscaloosa, Alabama never had a Heisman Trophy winner. Since then, he has produced four winners the most in the SEC. Saban talked about what that success meant to him. 

“I think it goes both ways,” Saban said. “I think the success that the program has had probably lends itself to more attention that our players get, whether it’s to make All-American or win national awards like the Outland Trophy or the Nagurski or the Heisman or whatever it is.” 

Saban also stated that the team and the staff are grateful for the recognition.  

“We’re always very grateful that our players do get recognized in a positive way because I do think those things create value for them in their future,” Saban said. “That’s obviously the goal.

On Name, Image and Likeness 

Name, image and likeness has changed the landscape of college football since its inception one year ago. Alabama has been at the center of NIL and Saban told reporters Tuesday just how successful Alabama has been.  

“Our players made over $3 million in name, image and likeness,” Saban said. “I’m all for the players being able to do as well as they can and use their name, image and likeness to create value for themselves. We have a great brand at Alabama, so players are certainly  their value there is going to be enhanced because of the value that our brand can help them create.”  

Saban’s concern, however, is how uniform NIL guidelines are across the game.  

“I think there’s probably a couple factors that are important in that,” Saban said. “How does this impact competitive balance in college athletics? Is there transparency to maintain fairness across the board in terms of college athletics? How do we protect the players? Because there’s more and more people that are trying to get between the player and the money.”  

Saban also mentioned how NIL has changed recruitment. Saban stated that schools may now use NIL to get top players to come to their institutions.  

“I think that is what can create a competitive balance issue between the haves and have nots. We’re one of the haves,” Saban said. “I don’t think that what I’m saying is a concern that we have at Alabama because we’re one of the haves. Everybody in college football cannot do these things relative to how they raise money in a collective or whatever, how they distribute money to players.”  

Saban stated that guidelines need to be implemented in order to maintain competitive balance in college football. 

“I think that’s important to college football,” Saban said. “I think it’s important to fans. That’s why they have rules in the NFL where you have a salary cap, you have difficult schedules if you have a successful season, you draft later if you have a successful season, you draft early if you have an unsuccessful season. All these things are created so there is competitive balance, which is great for the game and it’s great for fans.”  

On Young’s return:  

It’s rare for a player to win the Heisman and then return the following year. But that is the case for Saban, who will have Young as the signal caller for the Crimson Tide. Tuesday, Saban told reporters how he is coaching Young the season after.  

“I think that one of the most important things for Bryce or any player who has success is to understand that success is not a continuum,” Saban said. “You have to continue to success is momentary. If you’re going to continue to have success, you have to stay focused on the things you need to do to improve, to prepare, to lead, to impact and affect other people around you.”  

Saban said Young has a willingness to do all the things necessary to become a better player than he was last year. 

“So far, I’ve been pleased with the way he’s been able to maintain the mindset that you need to do to continue to improve and make progress as a player,” Saban said.  

On a potential SEC super conference:  

College programs have been switching conferences at an increasing level over the past few months, most recently with UCLA and USC deciding to leave the PAC-12 for the Big 10. Saban was asked if he could picture the SEC having 20 teams in the future.  

“I have no idea,” Saban said. “You’ve been around me for 20 years now, and you know I don’t like to answer hypothetical questions, which that could be as hypothetical as any I’ve ever been asked. I do think there is some tendency, as current events indicate, that mega-conferences may be something in the future. It’s not my job or my role to understand the dynamics of what’s in the best interest of college football, the SEC, other conferences in terms of how they expand.”  

Saban noted that there are different dynamics from a business standpoint that could affect the future of super conferences. But for right now, he’s focused on the 14 teams currently in the SEC. 

“We have 14 teams in our league for the next couple years,” Saban said. “We have some really, really good teams in our league. It’s a very competitive league. You got to be on task each and every week that you play. That’s kind of what we’re trying to stay focused on.”  

Saban is not for or against super conferences, but he maintains the importance of keeping competitive balance in college athletics.  

“If we have two 20-team leagues, how is that going to impact all the people that are not in those leagues,” Saban said. “That’s a question for all of you to speculate and answer on. I really can’t speculate on that.”  

On losing to former assistants:  

Before the 2021 season, a former assistant had never beaten Saban. Two coaches Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart did just that last season. 

Saban told reporters if he saw anything in those games that other teams could use as a blueprint for success against Alabama.  

“This is not something that is surprising to me,” Saban said. “A lot of people are at really, really good schools. They’ve done a really, really good job. They’ve used their own personal imprint to maybe take a few things that they learned that we do that helped us be successful along with their imprint of what they want to do so they can have successful programs.”