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Alabama's Nick Saban, Georgia's Kirby Smart believe NIL widening college's 'haves, have-nots'

As the two coaches prepare for the CFP title Monday night, they're also addressing the future of their sport

Alabama’s Nick Saban and Georgia’s Kirby Smart are little more than 24 hours from their teams’ face-off for the College Football Playoff championship Monday night in Indianapolis.

So the tunnel-vision is understandably real.

But both coaches also acknowledge the perceived runaway effect of the Name, Image & Likeness era setting in on college athletics – most notably in football.

While Saban favors players’ opportunities to earn from their likenesses, he believes – as do many college coaches speaking to FootballScoop in the past month – that it’s an element being improperly used to entice student-athletes.

“I think what is a little concerning is how is that used to get players to decide where they go to school, because I don't think that was the intention,” Saban said of NIL arrangements. “I don't think that would be the NCAA's intention.

“I think we probably need some kind of national legislation to sort of control that to some degree, because I think there will be an imbalance relative to who can dominate college football if that's not regulated in some form or fashion.”

Smart echoes Saban’s assessment, citing a belief in an impending even larger gulf in college athletics and specifically the top levels of Football Bowls Subdivision play.

“I agree with Coach (Saban), you're going to have the haves and have-nots and the separations that's already there is going to grow larger,” Smart said.

“And the schools that have the capacity and the ability and are more competitive in the NIL market are going to be schools that step ahead on top of other schools. So I don't want decisions to be based on that, but ultimately a lot of young men want to make their decision based on that [opportunity to earn money, from NIL].”

Though he doesn’t outline a specific vision, Saban believes there is need for a clearly defined, structured partnership to better streamline NIL management moving forward.

“The more we get to players making money and players actually having the opportunity to make money, which I'm not opposed to,” Saban said, “maybe there's some circumstance where there has to be some kind of an agreement between both the school and the player as to what their commitment is to what they choose to do because that is something, making commitments and fulfilling them, that is probably important to having a chance to be successful.”