[Editor’s note: This piece is satire and therefore not factual. At least for now.]
It’s June 2018, and Nick Saban is celebrating his one-year anniversary as NCAA football commissioner.
The first 365 days of his tenure included several changes, both small (adding a 10th on-field assistant to all teams) and large (assigning Alabama a permanent “legacy spot” in the College Football Playoff), but none more noteworthy than his decision to exile Jim Harbaugh to a snake-infested island off the Horn of Africa.*
*Harbaugh is currently appealing the decision.
Taking a page from United States president Donald J. Trump, Saban has blocked or significantly impeded media access to his press conferences.
Today, he speaks to three reporters who huddle together in a nondescript room to watch Saban’s prerecorded message broadcast on an NCAA projector.
“I brought you here to discuss this administration’s next big initiative,” he says. “We all know how important it is for our players to receive degrees, and we also know how important it is for them to receive the guidance they need — a’ight? — when they’re thinking about leaving early for the NFL.
“So … effective immediately, we are reshaping the current early-entry rules into the ‘Proper Exit Strategy,’ a process that will include a mandatory four-year stay at the college level before entering the professional work force.”
The trio of token journalists — all representing bi-weekly newspapers in western Idaho — scribble furiously as the NCAA’s public relations team broadcasts Saban’s message across FacebookVision™ for millions of fans to view live on their virtual-reality headsets.
Saban adds more provisions to the Proper Exit Strategy. Transfer students must sit out three seasons to get acclimated to their new campus learning facilities (though graduate-student transfers are still eligible to play immediately), coaches are allowed to temporarily reassign underperforming students to various FCS feeder schools, and all discipline for code-of-conduct violations will be run through an office powered by men with plenty of experience handling such matters: Former federal judge Kenneth Star and a special investigative unit from the Tallahassee Police Department.
Once Saban concludes his announcement, vice commissioner Gary Pinkel steps up to the podium to give updates on other current projects.
“Players will now be able to receive their annual academic stipends online with MasterCard, a proud sponsor of the NCAA,” says Pinkel, whose liberal stances on player payment and student rights were noticeably sanded down after he joined Saban’s winning ticket in 2017. “We could not be prouder to be in partnership with MasterCard and our other major sponsors.”
A former teammate of Saban’s at Kent State, Pinkel decided to leave his part-time broadcasting gig last February to help Saban win the inaugural commissioner election.
Representatives from every FBS program voted the six-time national champion into office over Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney —initially considered the prohibitive favorite — and former Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, an against-the-grain candidate who failed to corral much support after several years of refusing voters’ conference invitations.
Some media reports stated that Saban’s victory was the result of tampering and collusion, but an internal NCAA investigation revealed no wrongdoing.
Since his election, Saban has been sure to address issues of player safety, and even brought aboard former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to review the NCAA’s concussion protocol and related research.
There’s little doubt among college football’s elite that Saban — using the model that Tagliabue and current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have perfected — is looking out for the game’s most important interests.
It’s a message he’s been sending for some time now.
“The NFL has a commissioner that makes a lot of tough decisions,” Saban said back in 2016. “Sometimes they affect players adversely, but they definitely always are about the integrity of the game and what’s best for the game.”
More headlines from 2018
- Lane Kiffin finally making Michigan ‘his own program’ after Harbaugh exile
- Few answers for Dan Mullen after disastrous first year in Tuscaloosa
- Memphis forgets its current conference, accidentally shows up to ACC meetings
- Peyton Manning calls Tennessee coaching rumors ‘dangerously untrue’ after wife purchases Knoxville home
- ‘The NCAA Network’ launches Thursday on FacebookVision™
- Back-to-back? Jacob Eason, Georgia are in great position for a second straight national title
- Five-star prospect banned from college football after unnamed assistant coach commits Level I recruiting violation
- Oregon hires relatively unknown Him Jarbaugh to coach special teams
- Ed O’Bannon, Kirk Herbstreit set for pay-per-view fistfight to determine fate of NCAA Football video game