TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t believe the requirements for a college football player are any tougher today than they were when he was playing.
Saban was asked to respond to UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s comments about the demands for a college football player and if things have become difficult for student-athletes throughout his coaching career.
“I don’t know that it’s changed a whole lot,” Saban said Thursday. “We used to have two-a-days every day. We don’t have any two-a-days anymore. We don’t spend anymore time in fall camp than what we did when I played as a player. We don’t practice any longer during the course of the week.”
Saban said he looks at things from a different perspective. Saban mentioned that Alabama has had “23, 29 and 22” players over the last three years who have earned their degrees before playing in their final football game at Alabama.
So, that means a lot of guys — even though football may be difficult, no one is here saying that it isn’t. No one is saying that school is not very difficult. No one is saying that getting a college education is not very difficult. But for a lot of those guys, being good football players is what created an opportunity for them to make a tremendous investment in their futures by graduating from school. I think that is a really, really good thing. Is it difficult? Probably. Was it difficult to me? Absolutely. I don’t think it’s any more difficult. It’s just never been easy. But I do think the reward of it all, the lessons that are learned being a part of a team, the lessons that are learned being a competitor in an environment like this or any college football program, the work ethic, the perseverance, the ability to overcome adversity, the lessons that you learn in life, I mean how valuable can those things be?
“I mean everyday, you’re making a deposit for your future and your chances of being successful for your future. I think the difficulty and the sacrifice is well worth what it creates for a lot of players. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve graduated at a very high rate relative to everybody else — one of the top schools in the country. That’s our goal, to create value for our players. It is an opportunity. With an opportunity comes a burden. The burden is not necessarily easy so I get that. And you do it for your teammates and you do it for your future and your opportunity to be successful because you have a goal and an aspiration for what you want to accomplish and what you want to do in your life. I think it can make you a better parent. I think it can make you a better employee someday. I think it can make you a better at a lot of things.”
During a one-on-one interview with Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes, Rosen spoke on the workloads for student-athletes.
“Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t,” Rosen told Bleacher Report. “Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they’re here because this is the path to the NFL. There’s no other way. Then there’s the other side that says raise the SAT eligibility requirements. OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have. You lose athletes and then the product on the field suffers.”
When pushed on some players not belonging in school, Rosen said the requirements for players are too strenuous.
“It’s not that they shouldn’t be in school,” Rosen told Bleacher Report. “Human beings don’t belong in school with our schedules. No one in their right mind should have a football player’s schedule, and go to school. It’s not that some players shouldn’t be in school; it’s just that universities should help them more—instead of just finding ways to keep them eligible.”