TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Having won three national championships since 2009, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban is already on top of the college football world, but that doesn't mean he often gets his way when it comes to rule changes.
Actually, he frequently gets blamed for things even when he had nothing to do with them.
But when asked about possible changes in college football and what he would like or not like to see changed, Saban usually has a well-thought-out answer about why he feels the way he does, even if it's something he may not feel strongly about.
A good example from this spring was when the coach took a question about whether players should have the option to unionize.
"I've always been an advocate of players' rights," he said. "I've always been an advocate of players being compensated the best that we can to help them. Whatever the NCAA rule is and whatever they decide to do, I've always been an advocate of the player and the quality of life that a player has. I think that having a voice in what happens, I think, is something that the players probably ought to have.
"And I'm really not opposed to that at all. I do think that it's not what it seems. It would be interesting to know how much—everybody knows what a scholarship is worth. That's pretty easy to figure out. But to do on a per-player basis, what we invest in the player to try to help them be successful. We spent, like, $600,000 last year on personal development programs, all things that directly affect the player having a chance to be successful. I can't even tell you what our academic support budget is, trying to invest in a player and what is the value of him getting an education and graduating from school here? Not just the value of the scholarship. What's the value of him getting an education?
"How much do we actually reinvest in quality of support staff to help develop players that may have a chance to go on and play at the next level, have great college careers, have a chance to win a championship. Pretty significant budget around here that, if you look at it, it really is invested back in the players.
"I don't think that the players just receive a scholarship. I think a lot of players really realize that, understand that and appreciate that. We can't pay them but we can reinvest in trying to help them be successful in their future, which I think we do a marvelous job here at the University of Alabama. I think a lot of people do. I think that's what makes great programs. I think that's why players want to come and be a part of the program, because we do reinvest in the future and their chances of being successful, and we do care, and it's not just about football.
"So there's a lot of value that players get from the experience that they have as college student-athletes, that really benefit their chances of being successful. I know that the fact that I played football and got a scholarship, but all the things that I benefited from have helped me be very, very successful. And I can't really tell you what the value of that is, but I think it's pretty significant."
If given the choice, here are five rule changes Saban would make if given the opportunity.