Nick Saban created a firestorm on Wednesday night when he called out Texas A&M and Jackson State, amongst others, for using NIL deals to “buy” players.

Jackson State’s Deion Sanders and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher both responded in kind, with the latter torching Saban in a Thursday press conference in which he inferred the Alabama coach has some skeletons in his closet. The rest of the college football world chimed in as well, including rival coaches, ESPN commentators, Texas A&M administrators, and Alabama players.

With things ready to boil over just weeks ahead of SEC Media Days, Saban took to the airwaves on Thursday to apologize and try to clear the air.

“I should have never really singled anybody out,” Saban shared. “That was a mistake and I really apologize for that part of it.”

Saban says that he did reach out to Jimbo and Sanders, but “never got a response,” adding “I feel bad about it.”

Saban then tried to clarify that he’s not against NIL but rather against the collectives that have sprung up at schools in an attempt to persuade recruits to commit.

“My concern is college football in general,” Saban said. “I think a lot of us are concerned about it. People want to understand what’s happening in college football, why are players transferring and getting money to do so?”

“I don’t think NIL is an issue at all. I think the collectives are.”

“I wasn’t saying anyone did anything illegal. That was something that was assumed. That wasn’t what I meant or what I said. It’s not illegal. It’s the system that allows you do it [that I really have a problem with].”

There are certain conversations that need to happen around NIL, collectives, and player compensation. But Saban’s “sky is falling” approach is exactly what the sport doesn’t need, if only because it just creates these kinds of negative cycles that detract from the important part of the equation…making sure the players are compensated fairly.

[Jimmy Traina, Chris Vannini]

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.