Nick Saban looks on with his arms crossed.

Don’t Be Fooled: For Nick Saban and Others, the 2020 Season Is All About the Money

Brandon Viall Editorials 104 Comments

Dear Nick Saban,

In late August, Rob Parker of Deadspin quoted you uttering something that made me do a double take. I was so shocked I had to read it twice because I couldn’t believe my own eyes. You said, and I quote,

“This is about the players. Everybody acts like we want to play for the money. We want to play for the players. I want to play for the players. We have a lot of guys on our team that can create a lot of value for themselves playing this season, and we can create a lot of value and these guys have worked really hard to try to create and accomplish something as a team. All those things, to me, are important to the players. And I want to play for the players.”

Here we are in October. The college football season is in full swing, and I’m still bothered enough that I have decided to write you this letter. Sir, you seem to have suffered a break from reality. You and your fellow coaches in the NCAA missed the memo. You make anywhere from $8.8 million  according to USA Today, to $8.9 (per Parker) all the way up to possibly $9.1 MILLION a year! But it’s the context that truly makes the head spin. Your salary and those of your fellow coaches, this season, is built on placing kids at risk.

ESPN Video

Kirby Smart of Georgia (left) and Nick Saban make over $15 million a year between them.

Not-So-Saintly Nick

I can hear the complaints from SEC fans all over the country: “Nick gives away tons of money to charity!”; “Nick is a class act!”; It’s not about the money for Nick!” Let’s get one thing straight, Nick: for you, your fellow SEC coaches and the conference, it’s about the money. Even more importantly, it really should be about the kids!

I’m not saying you’re a bad person, Nick, or that you don’t do good deeds, or that you’re not charitable. What I am saying, is that you’re being dishonest. From 2018-19, the SEC generated $720.6 million in revenue  (sorry, Nick, you’re still behind the Big Ten) and you’re going to tell me it’s not about the money? Your fellow SEC coaches might disagree (and they don’t seem to be doing too badly, either). This is one of those times when your words, and the words of other NCAA coaches and conferences, don’t match with your actions.

Combined, they’ll rake in about $75 million this year ALONE. If it really wasn’t about the money, Nick, you’d set an example and give up some of your cash bounty. Donate it to scholarships for first-generation students or to help pay off student loan debt. Or you could go somewhere and be a high school football coach and average $44,000 per year.

Pac-12 Isn’t Innocent

The Pac-12 is guilty, too. At first, they made the right call by postponing the football and basketball seasons. They took the hit financially for the health of the players. But even they eventually caved and will start football and basketball in November.

Kevin Cline

To his credit, Cristobal took a pay cut amidst the pandemic.

Pac-12 coaches and administrators did the double talk and said they valued the students over the money. It might hurt in the short term, but it was the right thing to do. Nick, your disciple at the University of Oregon, Mario Cristobal, took a ceremonial moderate pay cut amid the chaos of this pandemic as the universities in Oregon struggle. Nick, you haven’t even done that.

This isn’t just about you, though, Nick. It’s not even just about the Pac-12 or the SEC; it’s about mindset and sentiment. Most coaches who make as much as you or Cristobal do while putting players at risk during a pandemic would have the presence of mind to keep quiet. Should any NCAA coach decide to place kids at risk by advocating for playing games amidst a pandemic, then out they should go.

Not Nick’s Fault?

Nick, your apologists will probably claim that your escalating salary isn’t your fault. They will no doubt say that you are simply charging what the market will bear. That your salary and those of your fellow coaches is simply capitalism working as it should. This isn’t about dishonesty, they’ll say, and it’s not even purely about money.

Painting of Oliver Cromwell.


Oliver Cromwell would have had some words for neglectful NCAA coaches.

But it’s actually two things: greed and legal negligence. This really should be about the kids, Nick, about their safety and security. You and your fellow coaches are entitled to your paychecks. But the least you can do is be honest about your motivations and priorities. I’m reminded of Oliver Cromwell, who said in 1653, “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” 

Have you no sense of decency, sir? You and any coaches who are willing to sacrifice the wellbeing and safety of students for the sake of earning a paycheck should dismount the high horses you are riding into the sunset of this golden age of college football …

And GO!


Brandon Viall
Missoula, Montana
Top Photo from Twitter 

(Reminder: Editorial articles at FishDuck do not represent the opinions of other writers, editors or management at the site)

Andrew Mueller, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

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Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

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Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Tough loss for the Chargers, but Justin Herbert sure announced to the nation that he is emerging as a future NFL star with four touchdown passes in only his fourth game as a starter. The ‘Bolts are so close!


Drew Brees won’t have his best receiver to throw to tonight against the Chargers.

Jon Joseph

Brandon, I should have done so earlier but thank you for the take.

FYI – MIZZOU at VANDY this Saturday is the 1st SEC game to be canceled. The yawns heard across the south are deafening.

I expect other SEC games will be canceled this season.

There is an open date for this game to be rescheduled.

Conspiracy theorists are not surprised that it was this game and not UGA at Bama, that was called off.

Jon Joseph

Correction: Game postponed to 12/12.

Based on the latest AP Poll, here is your Larry Scott 8 team playoff to date.

#8 Oregon at #1 Clemson [This would work for Brent Pennington and moi.]

#5 Ohio State at #4 Notre Dame

#7 Cincinnati (RIP Joe Morgan) at #2 Alabama

#6 Oklahoma State at #3 Georgia

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Now THIS I love….


Brandon, college football players are NOT indentured servants, playing at the whim of mega-corporation. Most love the game and want to play. But the real bottom line is … they choose to play … in spite of the risk. Nick isn’t holding a gun to the kid or his parents. Witness Graham, Sewell, Breeze, etc.


Thus you make my point. “…players won’t want to disappoint a coach.” It is the players’ choice to not disappoint. (It also might be the parents’ choice.) But playing is not of the coaches’ choosing.

You may rail at the salaries paid to coaches and administrative staff. That’s a political POV. It has zero to do with a player choosing to play in this age of the China virus.


Boy Slick Willy can not catch a break. I don’t know if anyone has seen this yet but FAU just announced that 19 players and 9 staff have tested positive for Covid-19. Now it goes without saying(but I’m gonna say it anyway) that I wish everyone at FAU who has tested positive a quick and complete recovery (really anyone who has caught this disease). Also I can not emphasize enough that with hindsight, how glad I am that Taggert left for FSU.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Amen my writing brother, as I am so grateful to them for making me look much better than I deserve!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Brandon…while we all may not agree–we love the discussion as nearly 50 comments before noon is a lively conversation taking place. It is potentially an explosive subject, yet everyone here is stating their views, offering vigorous debate, and yet doing so in a polite and respectful manner.

This thread epitomizes what I had envisioned originally with our rules and unique culture, and I will love to apply them to our upcoming Our Beloved Ducks forum in 11 days.

Thanks Brandon, for contributing this article, because a number of people share your views and this is a great debate for all of us to learn from.


Pac12 money talk of a different kind: this piece cites Canzano as a source that forecasts that there may be 0 (zero) Pac12 games broadcast by the Pac12 network in 2020-21. I kid thee not:

Guess we won’t be indulging in critiquing the quality of game broadcasts this Fall. Just concerned about the threshold of lethality for viewing repeats of Yogi & Yam.

Jon Joseph

Recall that had spring games happened the only game that was to be covered live by a full broadcasting crew was the Oregon game.

The network is functionally insolvent.

Jon Joseph

HE likely works out playing tennis, but his vision of folks lining up across country to watch Olympic sports?

And leave us not forget all of those subscribers in China, right?

Jon Sousa

The PAC did postpone until 2021. An interesting fact: When the PAC contracted with a company to have daily testing available with results within 15 minutes, the PAC DID NOT immediately talk about when they would start up sports again (not officially nor in the public’s knowledge). This actually surprised me. It was more than a month later when we knew that they were even talking about taking a vote.

That doesn’t sound like rushing into things to me.

Several months ago, we were talking about risks to the football players. We are learning more about this all the time. It is certain that some seemingly very healthy young people have suffered very bad effects that appear that they will last a very long time, even the rest of their lives.

However, it is also becoming clear that the chances of having a very bad result in an apparently healthy young person are extremely low. Participating in a D1 football game is astronomically more likely to inflict serious damage to a student than contracting COVID 19.

It is obvious that thousands of healthy young people all across the country are willing to take that risk.

Jon Joseph

Agree 100%. The conference took a responsible, measured approach and is only playing know as a result of science at this point in time.

To not play and for basketball not to play would simply be throwing $ down the drain. $ the Pac-12 in particular cannot afford to walk away from.


Of course money is a huge factor. College football is a business, a big one at that. So far it seems like college football players have not suffered signficant negative health outcomes from Covid. The bigger concern is the public at large and a super-spreader event. As long as the stadiums have minimal fans, it shouldn’t be an issue. This could change in Florida, and if it does, then we’ll learn that money trumps public health.


Human beings take risk all the time. To me the bigger question is the risk that we take individually endangering others, which in this case is public health. So far that doesn’t appear to be the case and the risk is confined to the teams. Hopefully it stays that way. Players do have the ability to opt out, which some have done, so they’re not being coerced to play. In terms of the NFL, they have done a pretty good job of not letting one team contaminate another. I’m not sure if they’ll get through a 16 game season but we’ll see.


Yep, it’s early. If college football becomes a risk to the public, then hopefully greed doesn’t win out and everything is done to mitigate the spread.

Mike West

How can one completely avoid risk in anything? Life isn’t risk free. Ever. The minute one walks out his or her door, risk is aplenty.

Since I can remember, some college kid has died in a fall camp before each season started just about every year. Why do we still playing football? I still remember the viscous hit Jack Tatum put on Darryl Stingley that paralyzed Singly for life. I saw TWO such hits this weekend. Football is alive and kicking.

NFL players face limited motion, arthritis, neck and back injuries by the time they reach fifty. The game is alive and kicking.

Thousands of athletes have Covid. Tens of thousands if you count the asymptomatic. Exactly how many of them went to the hospital? How many have died? How many have permanent damage? We’re talking eight months of exposure here. We have mountains of evidence RIGHT NOW.

We have plenty from places like Belarus, who never locked down. No masks, some social distancing . Same for Sweden . And the Seven states in the United States that sent their kids to school, let them play sports, and did not wear masks. We have info from every locked down country IN THE WORLD.

How many athletes were hospitalized, how many have died? How many have permanent damage?

We have speculated for months. Now we have facts. What do the facts say about the dozens of thousands of athletes exposed to Covid (because you can sure say we have seen what close contact has done to millions of people already)?

Lets start talking about facts instead of possibilities, hypotheticals, and fears.

Mike West

I completely agree with that, on all counts. Most especially during games when players will risk their health (and if they do contract this virus, that they are tested thoroughly despite the overwhelming limited risk-it only takes one to shut it all down given the current atmosphere).

Jon Joseph

SPOT ON! The land of the free and the home of the brave?


So, why are some high schools playing football? The adults exploitation of kids solely for financial gain argument kind of falls apart.

I am all for our public officials informing the general public on what precautions should be taken and why. This COVID virus is here to stay. Mandates eliminating certain business activity have been made. Resuming any “non essential“ activity like football, or getting a haircut….is it right, or is it wrong? Someone has to decide.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Whoa. I did not think of that–great point. Why are high schools playing football?


Because of all the “at risk” people, they are the least at risk. Down to an acceptable risk category.


Totally agree. We all accept risks and trying to navigate through these waters is somewhat challenging. I don’t want to charge into the storm, but am willing to accept some white caps and winds during these times. Play ball.


and keep the kids off of the streets.


Probably for the same reason many people don’t ware masks or keep separation. No fear.

Which beg’s the question why do some people fear the virus so much and others don’t ??

Jon Joseph

I want to know how any of my generation is alive?

We played adult unsupervised tackle football and ice hockey without any equipment. We rode bikes without helmets. The ‘seatbelt’ was Mom’s right arm. We ate unlabeled food and drank quarts of soda pop. And when you suffered a boo-boo, your parents told you to suck it up instead of racing to the emergency room. Of course, back then, doctors actually paid home visits. So, we did have that going for us.

I imagine you have heard this: My grandkids wear more stuff to ride a bike than the Marines gave me to fight in Nam.


Thats why the average person from our generation lives to age 87 but your grandkids average age will be 95

Jon Joseph

There is acceptable risk and unacceptable risk.

Would the players be safer in an environment without extensive testing? Are we all doomed because students are back on campus?

These players are far more at risk when they get behind the wheel of an automobile.

BTW, Bama took a risk when it hired Nick Saban. The risk paid off. The ROI from the Saban hire has been outstanding.

David Marsh

There is also a cultural aspect there that is driving football when it isn’t in the players’ best interest. In Big-12, SEC and much of ACC and B1G country football is a cultural imperative. The B1G bent to the outcries of football and the Pac-12 decided to rejoin the fall season when the B1G folded.

I know I am going to watch Oregon play and I know they are going to do everything they can to keep their athletes healthy. The Pac-12 seems to have one of the best plans in place so that makes me feel better. However, the Pac-12 schools are still opting to put these “student”-athletes at risk, even when many of them say they want to play, and why wouldn’t they want to play?

The other thing at play here is securing the next year’s recruiting class. It is unlikely any coach is going to lose their job because of a disastrous 2020 season, that includes the implosion that is LSU. For many teams this year, this year doesn’t count. For the teams that see success this year it will be because they have successfully navigated a difficult year. Regardless, next year should be a normal season of football and coaches need to ensure they recruit as well as possible and to do that they need to show off their product on the field… whether that is good or bad they will sell it.

Oregon has managed to recruit incredibly well all things considered… though it will make me wonder how much better would they be recruiting if they were entering week four of play rather than just starting to practice?

My comment is pretty meandering but I do agree that money is a major factor that has brought football back when perhaps it wasn’t the wisest decision. To date I am surprised by how few cancellations/postponements have had to take place. I was expecting a much higher number. Though I do think regional cultures have played a major role in pushing the football season.


A lot of good points in there, David. The cultural aspect for sure played a part in the readiness to play in different regions. There will be an * attached to this season; but I hope that it can be observed as intended simply to denote an irregularity, as this season will definitely be irregular. And, as you also noted, no coach is going to lose their job over this season’s record, players who might not have seen playing time will instead gain experience, and incredibly important, the great recruiting class coming in will be sustained by having games played.

Jon Sousa

There will definitely be an * attached to this season. So, if the Ducks win the national championship, will all the Blue Bloods down south say, “It doesn’t count; COVID year”?

Jon Joseph

Of course. And it will be just the opposite if an SEC team takes the cup.

HOWEVER, defeating Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and Bama in the title game would shut a whole lot of mouths.

Fascinating game Saturday night when the still legit D of UGA goes up against the fantastic Bama O. SEC Ds are now experiencing what B12 and Pac-12 Ds have faced for years and they are not holding up.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I agree, in that I am surprised we have not had more problems than what has happened thus far.

I do think that because we are having a season–the recruiting class will be retained. Now with that being said, we always lose a commitment or two at the end and pick up one or two we didn’t anticipate as fans. Typical whether there is a COVID year or not…

Jon Joseph

I would not be surprised if Bo Pelini ends up in a big bowl of gumbo?

Man, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

David Marsh

Not a head coach (which I should have been more specific about) but if anyone is going to lose his job it will be Pelini. However, there are some good reasons why he might keep his job… there wasn’t much of a spring to install his defense and LSU was replacing some key pieces in their defense and then there is always the cost of buying out a coach.

But Pelini smells like a Hoke to me… and I think Pelini will be the exception to the coaches not losing their job over 2020 rule. I don’t think the LSU fan base will tolerate keeping him on for another year after 2020.

Jon Joseph

‘Smells like Hoke?” LOL and spot on.


I have no doubt that everything has been about money from the get go. the only two conferences to seriously postpone were the Pac and Big10 of which both conferences had faced some serious player demands prior to the start of what would have been the season in August. Both conferences have since shut down and after players started demanding to play is when they picked up and announced activity again.

Despite what most of us want college football will always be about the money and the issue stems from the NFL’s 3 year removed rule. CFB is the NFL’s Developmental league, but they don’t have to pay.

I’m not sure if there is a fix to this issue at this point, and can I blame these programs either? To their own fault they have created annual operating budgets of 100M+ a season and without football and basketball they bankrupt their athletic departments. which in turn the department takes a loan from the university which in turn means every student now has higher tuition.(This doesn’t even include the fact that in school enrollment is down nationwide).

Everything about this is Darn’d(Edited for family viewing) if you do, Darn’d if you don’t. I’ll say this at least the pac 12 instituted daily covid testing.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I have the same open questions that you do…and thanks for the overt work at keeping it clean…


While technically yes the ivy league did, so did the mountain west, let’s also look at revenue. The ivy league booked about 30 Million in FY19 from football. The big10 Booked 1 Billion. Also the Ivy league is set very different than the rest of all college football, players are not eligible for athletic scholarships(the I do know one player who was offered a spot on the a team and qualified for partial tuition coverage(Still left him with housing and half tuition, he went to Southern utah Full ride)

Few other aspects every Ivy league head coach makes less than 500k and often their AD loss monies on every program they run every year… I don’t think it is fair to compare the Ivy League in how they manage to the rest of CFB. Heck they don’t even adhere to the NCAA guidelines.

I think the NBA as boring as it has been has proven that if you still want to make a profit and run your team than you can definitely do it. but it needs to be centered around a few different aspects, 1) daily testing 2) controlled Bubble, 3) lastly mandate and tracked quarantine. Whether you can manage all this and still claim student athlete isn’t up to me although likely not.

Jon Joseph

Every one of the Ivy football programs is fully endowed and there are no athletic scholarships awarded by Ivy schools.

The media income for the Ivy League is largely irrelevant.

Jon Joseph

The Ivy league canceled all fall sports early on; however, media money means little or nothing to Ivy schools.

Jon Joseph

After the Great Restoration, Oliver Cromwell was exhumed, drawn and quartered, decapitated and his head was set on a pike and sat for decades above the gates of London.

Even though I have ancestors who fought for Cromwell, he kind of had it coming.

I’ve watched CFB for weeks now and I have yet to see or hear of, student-athletes dying en masse. I have yet to hear of a significant numbers of players who have been hospitalized. I do know that players are being rigorously tested and that many games have been properly rescheduled.

In other words, no one and no conference is throwing these kids to the wolves. And I note, the same risk of COVID-contact exists for the coaches as it does for the players.

A judgement has been made by all G5 and P5 conferences that the risk to player’s health is not significant enough to warrant canceling the entire season. Why flush all the money away if the risk is not all that great? Do that, and you can kiss any number of non-revenue sports, goodbye. And of course, any player who does not want to play is free to opt out, with no adverse consequences to his scholarship.

If Nick Saban had retired after the 2019 season, he has all the money that he will need to live more than comfortably the rest of his life. He has zero need to put anyone at risk so he can make more money. He does make a lot of money. He shouldn’t? He’s the CEO of the program that is currently at the top of the heap. I for one am not willing to dismiss his charitable activities, anymore than I am willing to criticize the charitable activities of Bill and Melinda Gates. Money is fungible. Nick is not hoarding his salary in his basement and by playing, many people associated with the Alabama program are being paid instead of being laid off.

Maybe take some time to consider Nick’s POV? The player’s want to play. And not just the guys who are capable of playing in the NFL. The vast majority of young men who play the sport will not be playing post-college. Most play because they love the sport, as did I when I played in D3. I’m sure a number play only because they can receive a free education in return, but that seems to be perfectly reasonable return in my opinion.

Of course the reasons for playing vary. But to suggest that anyone is willingly putting kid’s lives at risk, seriously underestimates the ethics of the people making the decision to play, university presidents, and seriously overestimates the risks associated with COVID-19.Especially, the threat to those in their teens and young twenties. Statistically, Nick Saban at age 68 is far more at risk than is any of his players.

Sleep tight tonight, it is going to be OK.


Two hockey teams in the Q are quarantined for 2 weeks, as they played a home and home and 17 or 18 on each team are infected. They are home, quarantined, and getting over “the sickness”.

So, play on, i say. Only way to get herd immunity anyway.

Jon Joseph

The financial consequences of not doing so would be devastating for non-revenue sport student-athletes. I believe that Stanford has dropped 6 sports from varsity to club status and Stanford is a very well endowed institution.

CFB and CBB to a far lesser extent, pay the bills.

Jon Sousa

Which will be worse: damage to athletes due to COVID in the 2020 football season… or damage to athletes due to playing football in the 2019 football season?

Why take the chance with a football issue, when you can mitigate that risk? It’s basic risk management. Maybe we should cancel football altogether.

Jon Joseph

Do you go outdoors without a helmet?

Jon Joseph

Like a 10 minute major, eh?


Good point about not seeing or hearing of student-athletes dying en masse. Also No lawsuit’s that I am aware of yet.

Jon Joseph

Honestly, I have come 180 on this issue. The players are routinely tested. Games are called if too many, even those who test asymptomatic as most do, are infected.

Then add in that anyone who so desires can opt out any time before or during the season. And there is no scholarship penalty for opting out.

With all of this in place a suit based on negligence is not likely to stand up.


One has to wonder how much the fear of lawsuit had on the Pac-12 decision to delay the season as much as it did. Much wasted time and energy.

Jon Joseph

Frankly, for this age group the risk appears to be extremely small. I do not believe that this risk, especially with the testing going on, in any manner warrants canceling an entire season.

What goes around comes around. Oliver and his friends beheaded a king, not surprising that the restored king would do the same to the already buried Oliver.

My forebear, who was a Round Head, was ordered in 1628 to take a ship full of captured Scots to Boston to work as ‘indentured servants’ in the iron works north of Boston. The Congregationalists were not good at guarding their prisoners of war. Many Scots simply walked off and went north to form New Scotland, Nova Scotia. Those that stayed and worked their 7 years and did not convert to the Church of the Congregation also, for the most part, ended up in Nova Scotia.

My ancestor, Jonathon Faxon and his family stayed. 2 of the 5 children died on the trip over. His wife died the next winter. He remarried a widow who had 4 children and they had seven more children.

John Harvard was a close friend.

How would any of us done back then trying to make it through a New England winter?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Wow, what an amazing family history and great fun to read. Hang onto a copy of this for when we have an “About You” section in the forum!

When I think of a New England winter, or settlers coming to Eugene via the Oregon Trail….I can’t. I would die as a wussy a few days out of Missouri or England. For example, just think of the amazing waterproof boots we have to wear now, and what they had back then?

If we could travel to back then, I doubt any of us could make it. A world with no electricity. A world where logs were the only heat. BRUTAL.

And the Oregon Trail? Thousands died on the way west.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

It was said that on the Oregon Trail, you could begin to show symptoms of Cholera in the morning and be dead by the time they camped for the night.

I think of these hardships when so much has been written about how hard it is to quarantine….not the same!


I have to dissent and say it is about the student athletes. Without football many players aren’t students and they learn a tremendous amount playing football and going to school.

I work right now and it isn’t just about the money. I want to have a purpose and can’t just sit around and wait for the pandemic to end. I take as many precautions as possible, but my life goes on.

Criticize the amount of money coaches make all you want. The amounts are staggering, but it is a market driven situation. If you want to change the market then we as a country will fail and Saturdays will be for badminton.

I do agree about the risk factors needing to be monitored. When a kid gets his bell rung there is a protocol where they can’t just go right back on the field. The athlete wants to get back in and the coaches want them to as well. This is competitive spirit, not just greed. Without medical supervision the kids would, undoubtedly, go right back in the game. The same types of protocols need to happen with Covid.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Thanks Hayward, as you stated my views precisely!

The model right now is not perfect and in fact flawed, but it is better than where college sports would end up. Right now hundreds of thousands of students compete in NCAA sports with scholarships, who get their start on their careers that otherwise may not have happened. Football players get a total package worth nearly two million a year…despite what coaches are paid.

It is very hard to junk that model and start a new one that provides the same or better benefits to so many people…

Jon Joseph

It is a business. Revenues matter. IMO this pandemic does not require all aspects of society to be shut down. And COVID has affected different parts of the country in different ways.

The conference could not have been more methodical in determining whether to play in 2020 and fortunately, followed the science and then made a reasoned decision to play.


Brandon, I love your perspective, and had that same perspective for a while. I think once you really get into the business world and have many experiences, the idealistic perspective begins to fade.

It would be great if we could all be paid the same, risk was never a factor. The reality is that we live in an extremely competitive society. There needs to be safety nets, but the way the world works is, the competition never ends. Football and being a student athlete is one of the best ways to learn this.

Jon Joseph

Every creature on this planet lives in an extremely competitive environment.


Nice article Brandon.

The key of course is that when it comes to money there is no honesty about “motivations and priorities”. When its comes to money, trying to find honesty in motivations and priorities is like trying to find honesty in the referees justification after a blown call on the field of play. It just isn’t there. For sure, ask Arkansas in their game versus Auburn last Saturday.


Right on point, Brandon. “When they say it isn’t about the money. It’s about the money.” The lack of attention given to the Pac-12 helped Mario and his colleagues, but if he and they had wanted to make a show of how selfless they were being, a camera could have caught it.

Jon Joseph

So, based on current testing capability and the affect this virus has had on people the player’s ages, you agree that all sports including basketball should have been shut down for the entirety of 2020?

Would it be better if the State of Alabama had decided that at 68 years of age Nick Saban was at too great a risk for football to be played? Do you want The State making these kind of decisions; especially, when every player has been given the opportunity to opt out?

I don’t get it.

BTW, Nick Saban had nothing to do with the decision to play ball. This was decided by university president’s, among them the president of Vandy, who all make far less money than Nick. Who will all be paid whether football is played or not. This is the case for every G5 and P5 conference, all of which have opted to play ball.

This is not D3; this is not the Ivy League. So $ has to be taken into consideration.

Of course there is a remedy. End athletic scholarships. Make all sports, club sports. The coaches of these sports will be team members, elected by their teammates and will serve voluntarily. The university will provide uniforms, practice facilities, etc., for those students who want to break a sweat. Money will be far less of a concern. Of course, you’ll see as many stray dogs in Autzen for a football game as you will fans.

This is the model you prefer?

IMO, it is no more hypocritical for Nick Saban to say that it is not about the money, than it is to question the morals and ethics of college president’s and coaches, and then turn on the TV to watch; or, attend the games.


Well, at the end, Jon, we’re in complete agreement, money is the lifeblood that keeps the college sports we know and love alive. Go Ducks.

Jon Joseph

Thanks 30.

I do think that (when?) if, CFB players become university employees you will see many schools dropping athletic-scholarships.

IMO, NIL is a great compromise as it allows an individual athlete to capitalize on their own performance.

But the idea of revenue sharing is not going to happen without many the school bailing and headed the Ivy, D3 route.

If you look at the $ Nick Saban brings to the Tide’s bottom line, if anything he is underpaid.

The horse left the barn in the 80’s when the NCAA lost control of broadcast rights. Would any of us want to return to the days when coaches were making far less money but 1 game was broadcast on a given Saturday?


“The crack in the dam” that is exactly what I see going on. I’m not attaching any blame to coaches; who am I to say they are making too much, and I would be very upset if Mario leaves because another school offered money that Oregon wouldn’t and probably couldn’t match.

The NCAA needs an overhaul. It can’t get schedules to balance out between conferences; it couldn’t touch UNC’s scholastic scandal because it didn’t have jurisdiction. But let some Ohio State football players sell some jerseys for tattoos , and the NCAA hammer comes down!

The student/Athlete paradigm has shifted along with the huge amounts of money that the sports are generating. For now, the NCAA is that little dog that yaps when somebody steps on their lawn. That needs to change, to provide contemporary oversight, if the sports we all love are to continue.

Jon Joseph

When it comes to big time football, the NCAA is on the periphery because it does not control the playoff. It does act in regards to eligibility, etc., but it does not act by fiat.

Any significant ‘change’ has to be approved by the membership and the membership runs the gamut from Bama to Bowdoin.

Jon Joseph

I’d share your second concern if the players who opted out lost their scholarships. Such is not the case. No one is forcing these guys or NFL players for that matter, to suit up if they do not want to play.

Looking at Bama for example, there are at least 5 guys who could have gone to the NFL who decided to stay in school and play ball. At Clemson, see Lawrence and Etienne. Playing football for the vast majority of these guys is fun. If it wasn’t fun why would the majority compete through high school? The majority of HS football players will not earn an athletic scholarship. They play for the joy of playing as I did in HS and in D3.

Saban is not wrong in opining that the kids want to play ball. I really see no nexus between the salary Nick makes and the decision to tee it up. As you reiterate, Saban is not paid by the university or by the taxpayers of Alabama. On the other hand, the folks cleaning up the locker room are paid by the state, need the money and would not be paid if furloughed or terminated.

I just do not see these players as mere tools of greedy capitalists being put at an untenable risk so adults can make money.


I think it is well known that in the state of Alabama what Nick Saban wants Nick Saban gets and he did express his views to play football before the university president’s voted it in. Couple that with the TV networks desire to have the college’s play the outcome was inevitable. It did take them longer to figure out how to make it happen then I thought it would.

What surprised me the most was the NCAA dropping the March playoffs in basketball, after all that is their big money maker.


With the conferences cancelling their tournaments at halftime, (OSU vs Utah in the Pac-12) it would have been too much even with all the $$$ involved for the NCAA to have March Madness running.

Jon Joseph

I think that based on what we have seen to date deciding to play the season with rigorous testing in place was the correct decision.

I’ll change my mind of course if a decade or so from now many of these players drop dead from flu-related issues. I don’t see it happening.

Of course Nick Saban has influence but he most certainly does not run the SEC conference.

With what we have seen to date I see zero reason to question the ethics and morals of the college presidents across the 10 G5 and P5 conferences who decided to play ball. To the contrary, to date, I believe they made the correct decision.

This is NOT the 1918 flu that killed 2% of the world’s population.

Jon Joseph

We know this why? Because players are being tested and if a sufficient # of players are not available games are canceled or postponed. The FAU situation proves to me that ‘this’ is working. How many of the FAU guys who tested positive have been hospitalized?