May 21st, 2022 |
119: Saban Schools Fisher While Lobbying for Protective Federal Legislation
Nick Saban’s comments on the state of college sports regulation will no doubt be remembered more for the reaction they drew from Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher than for what they say about the future of college sports. This was textbook Saban. Grab headlines with provocative claims, then weave in the actual message. Saban’s claims that Texas A&M and Jacksonville State were “buying” players—and Fisher’s entertaining rant in response—are a sportswriter’s dream. This gift will keep giving until the teams square off in Tuscaloosa in October. But Saban’s comments are worth analyzing for a much different reason. In his portrayal of the chaotic state of college sports regulation, he was a human talking point for tired—and often false—narratives that justify protective federal legislation that would effectively end the athletes’ rights movement. Saban’s megaphone is second to none in college sports. When he speaks, people listen. Saban is a far more potent lobbying force than the army of paid lobbyists working on behalf of the NCAA and the Power 5 conferences, including the SEC. This episode examines Saban’s comments in the context of the NCAA/Power 5 lobbying and public relations war against revenue-producing athletes.