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Saban takes issue with Bowlsby’s ‘cheating pays’ claim

Nick Saban AP

In opening the Big 12 Media Days Monday, commissioner Bob Bowlsby created a bit of a firestorm when, in the midst of a diatribe against the current enforcement practices in the NCAA, stated “cheating pays” and “[r]ight now, if you wanna cheat you can do it and get away with it and that needs to change.”

Tuesday afternoon, the highest-paid coach in college football took exception to the broad strokes painted by one of the most respected commissioners in the sport.

In a sit-down interview with ESPN radio “personality” Colin Cowherd, Nick Saban questioned Bowlsby’s take on the current climate of enforcement while espousing how the commissioner of his conference has stressed compliance throughout his time in the league. In fact, in Saban’s mind, social media has forced all of college football to keep their collective hands clean on the recruiting front.

Here are some of Saban’s comments on the situation, as transcribed by

“I don’t see that. I don’t know where people get those opinions. Like I think the compliance in our league is actually better than it’s ever been. I think Mike Slive, that was one of his babies when he came in, he was going to make sure that we had a clean league and people did it the right things. When you don’t walk the walk in our league, you’re going to get called down by our conference offices as much as the NCAA.”

“But I don’t see players getting bought. I don’t see players getting extra benefits any place. I think recruiting is so transparent now, I think most people are scared to death that they would get caught publicly — not by the NCAA, not by the conference office.

“But even if you have illegal contact with a player, he tweets that you talked to him. So that’s a violation. I mean, it’s so transparent, you almost have to do things correctly because I don’t think anybody needs to catch you. I think the public would catch you.”

Saban also seemed to take a bit of a shot at Bowlsby’s “cheating” crutch, saying that “[y]ou’re always looking for a reason and one of the easiest excuses is to say the other guy did something illegal… which I don’t buy into that.”

The coach did allow though, that “[a]gents are a problem.” That is an understandable stance on Saban’s part.

Over the past couple of years, various Tide players, including D.J. Fluker, Marcell Dareus and HaHa Clinton-Dix, have been accused of and/or suspended for having illicit dealings with agents or their middlemen.

The NCAA’s Enforcement Committee hasn’t met in over a year according to Bowlsby, which seems to be an indicator to the commish that the game of college football has become akin to the Wild West. According to Saban, though, there’s too much at stake for coaches and their staff to go rogue.

“The No. 1 thing that blows up my future and any coaches’ future is if you violate NCAA rules,” Saban said. “That’s a big risk to be taking over winning a football game when you’re talking about your family, your future and your career and all the hard work you’ve done professionally to get where you are.”

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24 Responses to “Saban takes issue with Bowlsby’s ‘cheating pays’ claim”
  1. YouMadCauseImStylingOnYou says: Jul 22, 2014 4:38 PM

    “But I don’t see players getting bought. I don’t see players getting extra benefits any place.”


  2. brianincbus says: Jul 22, 2014 4:42 PM

    Wow, that’s hilarious since he had a player taking pictures in a suit store with new suits that he somehow “paid for” even though his family had no money.

  3. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 22, 2014 4:46 PM

    Players meeting with agents isn’t institutional cheating… unless the institution used the agent to procure recruits. But in this day and age, I think that is highly unlikely as it would be very hard to do and not get caught.

    But agents are going to go after the recruits regardless… they don’t care about the NCAA or the school their poaching kids from.

    I think the NCAA needs to partner with the NFL and NBA and make these agents accountable at the professional level. If an agent buys a house for Reggie Bush, then he should be punished by losing NFL certification for a specified amount of time.

  4. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 22, 2014 4:47 PM

    Before all you grammar police arrest me….
    *they’re* poaching kids from.

  5. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 22, 2014 4:50 PM

    And does that mean, I don’t think cheating goes on…. no. Of course it does. Sex with hostesses, unofficial visits, and boosters slipping them $100s after games.

    I would be surprised if any team that won a title in the last 30 years was COMPLETELY clean!

  6. barkleyblows says: Jul 22, 2014 4:53 PM

    The biggest cheat out of them all.

  7. wadaea says: Jul 22, 2014 4:53 PM

    Man i hate saying this but i agree with saban..if the product you put on the field does not have the quality of the other conferences you start blaming everybody but yourself….that shows weakness. as stated in other comments..there are violations in every sport and every team..there is to much money at stack..

  8. auburntigers34 says: Jul 22, 2014 5:07 PM

    Saban’s right. the risk outweighs any potential reward….especially with social media around.

    agents and rogue boosters might be an issue, but i seriously doubt that any HC in the country would sign off on cheating to gain a competitive advantage.

  9. dhardy8207 says: Jul 22, 2014 5:23 PM

    LOL… I bet some of these commentors on here have to buy a new keyboard every week…LOL
    Its the same whiners everytime. Must be sad that disdain rules your life…

    Keep them hating on you Coach Saban.

  10. coolhorn46 says: Jul 22, 2014 6:04 PM

    Me thinks Saint Nick doth protest too much.

  11. blakester9999 says: Jul 22, 2014 6:51 PM

    Nick is just a really nice guy who is exceptionally talented at recruiting uneducated youth to that cultural epicenter of Alabama.

  12. Straight Cash Homie says: Jul 22, 2014 7:38 PM

    Not going to mention the school but I do know a few players that have “summer jobs” in which they get paid pretty well and don’t do much work if any.

  13. dmarado says: Jul 22, 2014 7:58 PM

    Right or wrong, Saban should’ve kept his mouth shut on this one.

  14. bralinshan says: Jul 22, 2014 8:34 PM

    I think Saban makes some good points about harder to cheat today. With social media and real time communication, it’s tougher to get by with things.
    Cell phone cameras and videos, texts, and a real time chronicle of almost everything that actually happens…
    I’m sure cheating happens but it can’t be as simple as it once was…

  15. whenwilliteverend says: Jul 22, 2014 10:13 PM

    Funny how the subject of cheating comes up and an SEC coach gets defensive.

  16. dcroz says: Jul 22, 2014 10:29 PM


    How was Saban supposed to keep his mouth shut when he was asked a direct question about it in a sit-down interview? A “no comment” or the equivalent would have rung even more alarm bells than what he said.

    As it is, head coaches have “plausible deniability” in that they keep themselves away from any such rule-bending and leave it up to their assistants or anonymous (to them) boosters for the $100 handshakes and such. That way, if an assistant gets caught he can be fired or a booster gets caught he can be disassociated, and the player suspended or dismissed, with both being a self-imposed slap on the wrist that will satisfy the NCAA when it is self-reported (though not so much if it finds out through other channels).

    There are two possible solutions to this problem: either the NCAA cracking down hard on this, or the rules being rewritten so as to accept reality. The first is not going to happen, as it would take the NCAA pouring a ton of money into bulking up its enforcement staff by several times its current size and the member institutions to give the Committee on Infractions tons of powers to investigate allegations that it does not currently have; the school presidents are going to vote for neither. The latter option is more viable, and the one that even the Olympics–once the paragon of amateur sports–came to figure out a generation ago when it started allowing professional athletes to compete. The traditionalists will howl–as will the small schools who dream of reaching the big time–but it’s just dealing with the way things are in about the only way it can be.

  17. onlyoneleft says: Jul 22, 2014 10:43 PM

    Saban won’t cheat nor will the SEC. Who is he trying to convince: the public or himself?

  18. indi0228 says: Jul 23, 2014 6:17 AM

    Nick failed to mention the cash and cars provided by boosters. And of course the coach just looks the other way. Been happening in the sec for decades.

  19. jimr10 says: Jul 23, 2014 8:47 AM

    all of you accusing Saban or any other coach of cheating.. if you have direct provable knowledge of cheating.. you are a coward if you do not turn it in… i dislike Saban and Alabama as much as anyone….but turn it in if you know of wrong doing.

  20. stucarius says: Jul 23, 2014 12:50 PM

    Really? Some guy hiding behind a name like “Blakester” is going to take a swipe at Alabama. You know absolutely nothing about Alabama. Sure we have lots of problems and lots of bad people but so does everywhere else. Alabama is also full of a lot of fantastic people and has a cultural diversity that shocks pretty much everyone who gets the chance to know the community with out prejudice. Birmingham in particular is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the country because of its history in the iron industry.

    Maybe we are not the epicenter of culture like a Chicago but then again 47 people were gunned down int eh streets of Chicago last weekend. Including children. SO we all have our problems.

  21. packerbadger says: Jul 23, 2014 1:38 PM

    $ECheat is the biggest cheater of them all…esp Alabumpkin’! Alabumpkin’ has by far the worst fans of any sport anywhere. All they got down there is college football. I wonder if they yell “Roll Tide” before or after they cheat.

  22. bama3b says: Jul 23, 2014 3:06 PM

    Something that no one has mentioned is that the Big 12 hasn’t won a NC in years. People outside the SEC are tired of the football dominance by the SEC. If you want to be the best beat the best!!! Enough of this talk of cheating. No school is Lilly White

  23. jul9465 says: Jul 23, 2014 5:50 PM

    Sure Saban is worried about money and his family. He is near retirement and has plenty of money. If old college buddy is taking care of him and his. Everone, yes in the SEC too, know what he doe s and knows he will get by with it.

  24. tigersfandan says: Jul 26, 2014 4:56 PM

    As part of his remarks, Bowlsby had bemoaned the oversigning issue. It appears to me that Saban did not address that part of it. I wonder why?

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