Thursday, all eyes were on the back-and-forth between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher over Saban’s comments regarding the Aggies and the use of NIL in recruiting. But Saban also dropped Jackson State and Deion Sanders in his comments, and Sanders had quite a response to the Crimson Tide headman on Friday.
Speaking on I Am Athlete, Sanders didn’t hold back about what happened Wednesday night at an event in Birmingham.
“I got to check him [Saban], so he knows don’t play with me,” Sanders said, via AL.com’s Mike Rodak.
Sanders also pointed out where Saban said what he said. He was at an event with Alabama business leaders, which is another reason why he didn’t appreciate how his name came up during the remarks. That said, he understood what Saban’s goal was given the setting.
“Coach Saban used me and used Jimbo Fisher as pawns in his plea for help from his boosters and his donors,” Sanders said. “We were just pawns. He was really going at his people to up the ante so that he could out-do Coach Fisher.
“They just threw me in the fire because of what we accomplished in recruiting last year. … They just threw us in the fire because [Saban] was the spokesman of the all the SEC and he was the spokesman for all the Power 5s and the PWIs [predominantly-white institutions] by saying, ‘We can’t let that happen again now.’ … So I don’t blame the man. I know what he was trying to do. I saw through the bull, I really did.”
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This isn’t the first time Sanders addressed Saban’s comments. He did so Thursday night in an interview with Andscaped’s Jean-Jacques Taylor, calling for a public conversation between the two.
“I haven’t talked to Coach Saban,” Sanders said, in part. “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.”
In his comments, Saban alluded to Five Star Plus+ recruit Travis Hunter’s flip from Florida State to Jackson State on National Signing Day. Hunter was the No. 1 recruit in the country at the time, according to the On3 Consensus, a complete and equally weighted industry-generated average, and the flip to an FCS program was major news.
Rumors swirled about a potential six-figure NIL deal as part of the commitment — and Sanders has been quick to squish those rumors. But after Saban mentioned that rumor in his comments, Sanders again offered an impassioned defense of his top signee.
“I don’t make a million,” Sanders said. “Travis ain’t built like that. Travis ain’t chasing a dollar. Travis is chasing greatness. Travis and his family don’t get down like that. They never came to us in search of the bag. They’re not built like that. This kid wants to be great.