Another sign of the genius of Nick Saban — if the reality is that college football is the NFL’s free developmental league, don’t run from that; embrace it.
… Why are highly rated draft prospects at Alabama largely staying for their senior years when the national trend is skewing more toward leaving at the first opportunity given the money and risk factors involved?
… It’s clear that Saban’s advice on whether players should stay or leave is a large part of the equation. Though some could view it cynically and say a coach whose $7 million-a-year salary depends on wins and losses shouldn’t be advising unpaid college players to pass up guaranteed money, Saban approaches it as a value proposition.
And when difference between guaranteed salary for first-round picks and those taken in the second round can be millions of dollars, it’s worth careful consideration for those who have the potential to enhance their stock.
“I think the biggest thing we try to do with our players is we try to get them to make a quality business decision,” Saban said. “You can’t improve your value once you get in the draft. It is what it is, and what a lot of people don’t realize is everybody wants you to come out for the draft, but once you say you’re in the draft every team looks for reasons not to draft you.
“They’re making a significant investment, and they want to make sure they’re getting quality for what they want to invest in, so if guys can improve that as college players, that’s certainly something we would like for them to do and we’ve had a significant number of guys that have done that and come back and improved their draft value. We’ve had guys who have gone out because it was the right thing for them to do and they’ve done extremely well. Every case is different and I think our players, because they’ve seen both sides of this, sort of understand the business side.”
Allen, who received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board last year, is the embodiment of that analysis as ESPN’s Mel Kiper now rates Allen the No. 3 overall player. If he ultimately gets drafted somewhere in that range, Allen’s decision to come back will guarantee him at least $16 million more on his first contract than if he had been an early second-round pick.
The trick isn’t selling your players on the value of staying. It’s delivering on that message. How many coaches out there can legitimately do that?