TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Even though a new rule passed by the NCAA on Friday will allow the University of Alabama football program to begin fall practices earlier next year, Nick Saban doesn’t plan to take advantage of it.
As of now, he doesn’t plan to significantly change training camp schedule, even if it means having fewer preseason practices.
“I personally think that our season is way too long and making the season longer is not a good thing for the players,” he said Friday after Alabama’s second spring scrimmage. “I cannot see bringing our guys in in July to start practice and have four or five weeks of practice before we play our first game when summer school is still going on.”
The change is part of the elaborate — and controversial — reform package approved by the NCAA’s Division I Council on Friday. The legislation ends the practice of satellite camps, limits offseason camps to a 10-day period in June and July, and mirrors a basketball rule that restricts the hiring of anyone associated with recruits — including coaches — for a two-year period before or after the hiring.
The earlier practice schedule was to compensate for a ban on two-a-day practices, so coaches could still get in the same number of practices prior to the start of the season.
“We should have just eliminated two-a-days and just kept the practices a little less, because it’s a long season for these players,” Saban said. “I mean, we’ve played 15 games two years in a row.
“It’s tough to get them back and get them ready for the offseason program, spring practice. It’s a lot of ball. Our format for how we do playoffs, where you’ve got a month between games, then you’ve got another game in 10-12 days, that’s tough on players, too, because they have to keep practicing all that time.”
Although Saban has long been in favor of another change that was approved, the addition of a 10th assistant coach, his press conference on Friday came off the tracks a bit when he openly took issue with complaints that the size of Alabama’s support staff was too big.
“We pay interns really, really little money; very small amount of money,” he said. “You would be shocked at how cheap the labor really is. It’s almost criminal. And why we have administrators complaining about how many cheap labor people you have, trying to promote the profession, trying to do something to develop our game and the coaches in the game, because how else do you develop guys?
“Now we passed the rule where we can’t hire a high school coach to do anything here, can’t have a high school coach work camp, so do we do anything to develop coaching in high school? Pretty soon, they’re going to make it that they can’t come speak at a clinic, 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 now we can’t do anything to develop coaches either by having a few extra guys on staff?
“Then we got a GA rule that you have to be seven years out of college to be a GA, so you can’t be more than seven years out of college and 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 just, I hate to go off on something but I really don’t get it, I really don’t.
“I guess it’s the paranoia that we all have that someone 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 went on the road in the spring. Urban Meyer and I were the only two that went out every day like assistant coaches. So everyone else complained about it, but they could have done it. It wasn’t against the rules. So, they just don’t want to work?”
The rule on adding another assistant coach won’t be effective until after the completion of the 2017 season. The early signing period must be approved by the Collegiate Commissioners Association, which meets in June.