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Verne Lundquist says what he believes led to Nick Saban's surprise retirement

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Broadcasting legend Verne Lundquist shared his thoughts on why legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban decided to call it quits after the 2023-24 collegiate season. 

It shocked everyone when Saban retired from coaching after leading his team to the College Football Playoff following an SEC Championship win over Georgia.

Lundquist, who called college football for years prior to stepping away from CBS’ coverage in 2016, believes that name, image and likeness – better known as NIL – led to Saban’s retirement. 

On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, outside the West Wing of the White House, Alabama Crimson Tide football team Coach Nick Saban speaks to reporters. (Cheriss May/NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“The two biggest changes, both of which helped drive Nick Saban into retirement, are transfer portal and NIL,” Lundquist said during an appearance on Barstool’s “Pardon My Take.” “These kids now [ask], ‘How much are you gonna pay me?’ Or ‘If you don’t pay me or if you don’t guarantee I’m starting and pay me, I’m transferring, I’m going to Central Michigan.’ And I think Nick has now said, ‘Yeah, that drove me nuts.’”

While Saban hasn’t definitively come out and said that NIL and the transfer portal drove him out of the game, he has openly criticized the way college athletics are running now. 

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Saban said back in February while on an ESPN panel during “College GameDay” that “what we have now is not college football.”

NICK SABAN REVEALS CONVERSATION WITH WIFE, TERRY, THAT CONTRIBUTED TO RETIREMENT: ‘WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?’

“Not college football as we know it,” he continued. “You hear somebody use the word ‘student-athlete.’ That doesn’t exist. 

Saban said he wants to try to impact college football however he can, and that started with a discussion on Capitol Hill regarding the future of college athletics in terms of the transfer portal and NIL. He was a part of a roundtable discussion, led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, where he gave his experience to explain why there need to be regulations with the transfer portal and NIL. 

Verne Lundquist with headset on

Verne Lundquist of CBS Sports during the 2017 NCAA Photos via Getty Images Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Madison Square Garden on March 24, 2017, in New York City. (Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“All the things I’ve believed in for all these years – 50 years of coaching – no longer exists in college athletics,” he explained when Cruz asked if the “current chaos” led to his retirement. “It’s always was about developing layers, always been about helping people be more successful in life.”

Saban even brought up an anecdote about how his wife, Terry, asked him “Why are we doing this?” following a Sunday breakfast she usually puts together for recruits and their parents when visiting Alabama. 

“’All they care about is how much you’re going to pay them. They don’t care about how you’re going to develop them, which is what we’ve always done. So why are you doing this?’” Saban recalled his wife saying before he decided to retire. Saban added that it was a “red alert” hearing his wife say that. 

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And that’s exactly what Lundquist is alluding to here, that athletes are now focused on how much money they can make during their college years. If that means transferring to cash in, then the transfer portal can help them do that. 

Verne Lundquist visits the SiriusXM Studios on October 8, 2018, in New York City. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

To their credit, it’s what the NCAA currently allows, so they’re simply using the system at hand to their own benefit. But Saban and many others are hoping the NCAA and college athletics can reel it in a bit, because recruiting isn’t about selling an athlete on their program and school to better them on and off the field. 

It’s about how many zeroes go on a check. 

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Source: Fox News

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