Nick Saban Dec 31, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama head coach Nick Saban before the 2022 Sugar Bowl against Kansas State at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The retirement of legendary Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban came as a shock to many. However, Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders believes that Saban’s decision may be due to the shift that has occurred in college football in recent years.

The rise of NIL deals for the players and the rampant state of the transfer portal has completely shifted the sport. Simply put, if you aren’t diving into the transfer portal to bring in talent, you are falling behind other teams who are doing so.

Sanders has done this perhaps better than anyone since leaving Jackson State for Colorado, bringing in a number of starts players along with him that helped the program make significant strides this past season.

On the RG3 and The Ones podcast with former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III, Sanders shared a theory that he believes Saban retired due to the pressure that the transfer portal and NIL put on his program, not for his lack of the love of coaching.

“I know him and I know his art and I know he loves this game,” Sanders said. “But when you’re sitting there watching how this thing plays out and you’re watching the obstacles you gotta go through. You’re dealing with parents that are parents-slash-agents, homie-slash-the bagman. You’re dealing with so much craziness. And I get it, so I know he’s getting it at a whole ‘nother level, because I get it when I’m meeting with parents and these young men. Old school guys that were built and built their lives on hard work, dedication, and trying to treat people right, they don’t see that formula work anymore.”

It’s not exactly an outlandish theory from Sanders. Saban has certainly made his stance on NIL and the transfer portal very clear in the past, outwardly bashing the “pay for play” nature of it.

Regardless of Saban’s reasoning for retiring, Sanders did go on to praise Saban for all he has done for the sport during his coaching career.

“Coach has done some tremendous things in our game,” said Sanders on Saban. “I like to glean from him every year. I like to call him and ask his advice on certain things.”

[RG3 and The Ones podcast on YouTube]

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.