Jackson State head coach and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has responded to Alabama head coach Nick Saban saying that the school paid Travis Hunter, the No. 1-ranked recruit in the 2022 class, $1 million for him to play for the Tigers.
Sanders told Jean-Jacques Taylor of Andscape:
“I haven’t talked to Coach Saban. I’m sure he’s tried to call. We need to talk publicly — not privately. What you said was public. That doesn’t require a conversation. Let’s talk publicly and let everybody hear the conversation. You can’t do that publicly and call privately. No, no, no. I still love him. I admire him. I respect him. He’s the magna cum laude of college football and that’s what it’s going to be because he’s earned that."
Sanders' comments come after Hunter himself denied being paid $1 million to play for Jackson State in a social media post on Thursday morning.
Sanders also tweeted that Saban's comments weren't true.
COACH PRIME @DeionSanders
You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow. I was & awakened by my son <a href="https://twitter.com/ShedeurSanders?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ShedeurSanders</a> that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED <a href="https://twitter.com/TravisHunterJr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TravisHunterJr</a> a Million to play at <a href="https://twitter.com/GoJSUTigersFB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GoJSUTigersFB</a> ! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.
Saban turned heads Wednesday night after saying Texas A&M, which had the top-ranked recruiting class last year, "bought every player on their team" while speaking about how NIL is impacting the college football landscape.
The 70-year-old also made a comment about the Tigers landing Hunter, who was originally committed to Florida State before flipping his commitment to Jackson State in December 2021.
"Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school," Saban said Wednesday, per Brett Greenberg of the Tuscaloosa News. "It was in the paper. They bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it."
There were rumors circulating at the time Hunter committed to Jackson State that Barstool Sports offered him $1 million to play for the Tigers, per Sports Illustrated's Dan Lyons. The speculation arose because Barstool Sports is associated with Sanders through his 21st and Prime podcast.
Sanders denied the rumor during an appearance on ESPN's Keyshawn, JWill and Max (h/t TMZ Sports) in December, saying that they didn't pay Hunter to play for Jackson State.
"We didn't pay," Sanders said. "We ain't got no money! We ain't got no money! A million and a half? I heard a million and a half. And I heard Dave Portnoy over at Barstool—that's the biggest lie I've ever heard."
It's possible Saban only made his comments because a number of schools, such as Texas A&M, are landing top-ranked recruits due to NIL deals, and the changing landscape could make it more difficult for Alabama to land the best players in the country.