Following passage, Nick Saban goes off about IAWP rule (again)

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday April 14, 2017

You had to know what Nick Saban’s reaction was going to be.

Earlier Friday, the Division I Council passed a large package of changes, which included a 10th assistant coach (Saban favored that) and limitation on hiring individuals associated with a prospect (Saban hated that). By rule now, you can’t hire someone to an off-field job who has ties to a prospect within two years before and after their enrollment. Essentially: No more high school coaches as off-field support staff if you recruit that school. But you can still recruit there if the IAWP is hired as a full-time assistant. 

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said one school has a staff of 97 people, including on-field coaches and support staff. He didn't say who it was, but I think we all know. It was a note by Bowlsby to emphasize a desire to limit staff sizes.

So when Saban was asked about the 10th assistant Friday, he approved, and quickly went off into what he didn’t like. Here was his full response:

“I’m very much for that (10th assistant). I know there are a lot of people out there that complain about staff sizes, but we actually have the fewest number of coaches per player of any sport in college, ratio-wise. To have a 10th coach really balances the staff better, so you can have special teams coach and not have a position coach that has to double up and do that.

“All these people that complain about staff sizes, we pay interns really, really little money. A very small amount of money. You would be shocked at how cheap the labor really is. Almost criminal. And why we have administrators complaining about how many cheap labor you have, trying to promote the profession, trying to do something to develop our game and the coaches in the game. How else do you develop guys?

“Now you pass the rule where we can’t ever hire a high school coach to do anything here. You can’t have a high school coach do camp. So do we do anything to develop coaching in high school? Pretty soon they’re going to make it so they can’t speak at clinics, because we pay them for that, so we can’t do that, either. So we really can’t do much to promote our game, so we can’t do anything to develop coaches either, by having a few extra guys on staff?

“And we have a GA rule that you have to be (within) seven years out of college to be a GA, so you don’t have any opportunity to be anything but an intern, who really can’t coach on the field. I hate to go off on something, but I really don’t get it. I really don’t.

Saban then compared it to the "Saban Rule," which was a ban in 2008 keeping head coaches from going on the road for spring recruiting. That, coincidentally, begins again Saturday for spring recruiting.

I guess it’s the paranoia that we all have that somebody else is doing something that I’m allowed to do. Everybody else is allowed to do it, but you choose not to do it. Just like when I used to go on the road in the spring. Everybody could have gone on the road in the spring. Urban Meyer and I were the only two that went out every day like assistant coaches. Everybody else complained about it, but they could have done it. It wasn’t against the rules. So they just don’t want to work?”

However, it’s worth noting the biggest difference in staff sizes is budgeting and money, rather than a desire to work like spring recruiting. Steve Sarkisian was paid $35,000 as an Alabama analyst last season.

Saban has gone off on this a few times this spring, so the conversation was steered away to the next question.

“Are you trying to get me off the subject?” Saban joked and smiled. 

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to