Nick Saban is taking a stand.
Alabama’s iconic head coach, appearing Wednesday at a charity golf tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, alongside Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson and myriad other celebrities, was asked directly about allegations that the Crimson Tide might have meddled in player-recruitment prior to individuals having officially entered the NCAA’s Transfer Portal.
Specifically, Saban was asked point-blank about transfer-wideout Tyler Harrell – who departed Louisville after a breakout-season to join the Tide.
“Well, we don’t tamper with anybody,” Saban told media gathered at the country club. “So, I don’t know of anything or anybody that tampered with him.
“I don’t really know that anybody’s ever really tampered with our players. I just think that sometimes when things happen, it makes you wonder. So I’m not making any accusations against anybody that’s anything with our players and I don’t have any knowledge of anybody that’s done anything with anybody else’s players.”
Last week in an interview with 247Sports, embattled Louisville coach Scott Satterfield floated the notion that Harrell might have been tampered with prior to his entry into the Portal – and the coach indicated he didn’t believe Harrell was the first Cardinals player to have been enticed elsewhere.
“Last year we had guys that jumped into the Portal,” Satterfield told the outlet, “and the next day, they’re announcing where they’re going.”
Just as is unfolding across collegiate athletics and specifically in football recruiting as it pertains to Name, Image & Likeness deals that appear to dwell, at minimum, in NCAA gray areas, Saban points also to the influence of any number of people in a player’s decision-making process.
“Well, I think that it’s really hard to control third parties, whether it’s direct or indirect,” Saban said. “But when you have a guy leave your program and go some place else the day after a game, I don’t have any evidence that anything happened, I’m not making any accusations, but it makes you wonder, I guess.
“But hopefully we have enough honesty and integrity out there amongst us professionally and in our sport that people are going to abide by the rules.”