Kalen DeBoer takes over at Alabama: Did NIL play a role in Saban’s

University of Washington football coach Kalen DeBoer coach will replace Nick Saban as Alabama’s head coach after Saban abruptly retired with six years and $71.8 million remaining on his contract, according to ESPN.

Saban, 72, is walking away from a Crimson Tide program with which he has won the most national titles in college football history and that is perennially among the top four teams in the country and thus eligible to play for the championship trophy.

After leading Washington to the College Football Playoff this season, DeBoer, 49, is taking over one of the most coveted jobs in college football.

Soon after Saban’s retirement announcement on Wednesday, some who know him came forward to say recent changes to college sports, such as players being able to capitalize on their names, images and likenesses — better known as NIL — and the more relaxed student-athlete transfer rules, could lie behind the decision.

See also: NFL has ‘decided to rip off fans’ with playoff game streaming on Peacock, Congressman says

A.J. McCarron, who was an Alabama quarterback under Saban a decade ago, suggested the massively successful coach had grown weary of the new college sports landscape.

NFL legend and University of Colorado football coach Deion Sanders theorized that changes to the collegiate game had “chased” away Saban, whom he characterized as the greatest coach of all time.

Micah Parsons, an NFL All-Pro linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys who played collegiately at Penn State in 2018–19, posted that he, too, believed NIL had played a role in Saban’s shock retirement.

The NCAA began allowing college athletes to earn name, image and likeness money in 2021, when student-athletes finally won a decades-long argument over the fairness of receiving no remuneration even as the games they played generated millions of dollars for the institutions in which they were enrolled — with football and basketball the big revenue generators.

On several occasions, Saban has publicly said that he’s in favor of compensation for athletes but is not a fan of a current system that rewards schools for their capacity to craft NIL packages that lure the most prized recruits.

Earlier this season, in a now-famous press conference, Saban asked: “Is this what we want college football to become?”

See also: These 10 college athletes are making over $1 million a year from NIL

Saban, having racked up championship trophies in a succession of college football eras, including under the Bowl Championship Series and College Football Playoff systems, as well as this new NIL era, some experts think the most recent changes are creating unmanageable scenarios for coaches.

“The changing landscape definitely makes it more challenging,” Michael Rueda, corporate partner and U.S. sports and entertainment group head at the international law firm Withers, told MarketWatch. “It presents a factor that wasn’t…

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