The Wonderlic test is one of the NFL’s most controversial scouting tools.
Nick Saban did not add to the intelligence test’s legitimacy on Thursday night when he admitted to doctoring Wonderlic results during his time in the NFL.
Speaking to fans on his weekly radio show, Saban said there were often times when promising prospects scored poorly on the Wonderlic. When that happened, he would request that the player be allowed to re-take the test, and then administer the test himself.
“I hate to admit it now, but if I really liked a player, I would actually take the test out, look at it, tutor the guy a little bit, alright, before he took it,” Saban said. “Maybe lose a few minutes on the timing part of it, so he had a little extra time… and they would do better. But we were trying to create opportunities then, just like we’re trying to create opportunities for people now.”
While this falls into the “cheating” category, the doctored tests probably did not give Saban’s team (he didn’t mention which time period this occurred) a competitive advantage.
But it’s safe to say Thursday’s story was sanded down a bit. In 2006, Saban gave a more truthful account to USAToday.com‘s Carl Kotala about a similar incident while working with the Houston Oilers in the 1980s:
“I’m not going to give his name, but he had a low Wonderlic,” Saban said, grinning slightly. “They sent me up there with the test to retest him.
“I really liked this guy. He played safety. I got the test out, and even though I didn’t take it, I studied it. Then I tutored the guy for about an hour before he took it, then I gave him twice as long to take it than he was supposed to.
“He doubled his score. We got him to where we could draft him. Now nobody knows about that, but I don’t think (Oilers owner) Bud Adams can fire me now, so I’m OK with it.”