The coach-on-coach verbal violence continues.
Deion Sanders won’t pick up the phone if Nick Saban calls, after he said the Alabama coach spewed public “lies” Wednesday, when he claimed Jackson State paid top prospect Travis Hunter $1 million to play for the Tigers.
“I haven’t talked to coach Saban,” Sanders said in an interview with Andscape on Thursday. “I’m sure he’s tried to call. We need to talk publicly — not privately. What you said was public. That doesn’t require a conversation. Let’s talk publicly and let everybody hear the conversation.
“You can’t do that publicly and call privately,” said Sanders, who’s starred in multiple Aflac insurance commercials with Saban. “No, no, no. I still love him. I admire him. I respect him. He’s the magna cum laude of college football and that’s what it’s going to be because he’s earned that. But he took a left when he should’ve stayed right. I’m sure he’ll get back on course. I ain’t tripping.”
Saban said that he reached out to Sanders during a radio interview on Sirius XM Thursday, but that Sanders didn’t respond.
Sanders denied that Hunter, the nation’s top college football prospect in the class of 2022, has a million-dollar NIL deal with Jackson State, and said the school isn’t on the same financial level as the Power Five schools, like Alabama.
“I don’t make a million,” Sanders said. “Travis ain’t built like that. Travis ain’t chasing a dollar. Travis is chasing greatness. Travis and his family do n’t get down like that. They never came to us in search of the bag. They’re not built like that. This kid wants to be great. He wants my hands on him. He wants me to mold him. He wants me to be his navigational system through life. He wants to be that dude.”
Hunter has two current NIL deals and two pending. The deals are worth less than $250,000, according to Andscape.
Sanders said he believes Saban was sending a message to his own boosters at Alabama to catch up with other schools in a pro-NIL world.
“Coach Saban wasn’t talking to me. Coach Saban wasn’t talking to Jimbo Fisher,” Sanders said about the Texas A&M coach, who issued a fiery response to Saban’s comments. “He was talking to his boosters. He was talking to his alumni. He was talking to his givers. He was trying to get money. That was what he was doing. He was just using us to get to where he was trying to get to.
“I don’t even wear a watch and I know what time it is. They forget I know who’s been bringing the bag and dropping it off,” Sanders said. “I know this stuff. I’m not the one you want to play with when it comes to all of this stuff.”
Saban’s comments sparked drama on Wednesday night, when he spoke about name image and likeness (NIL) deals and their effect on college football, while speaking to local business leaders in Birmingham, Alabama to promote the World Games.
“Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school,” Saban said Wednesday. “It was in the paper. They bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”
Saban also said Texas A&M paid all of its recruits to sign with the Aggies.
Fisher was quick to call a press conference on Thursday, and went off on Saban, who he called a “narcissist.”
Saban later apologized for singing out schools, but stood by his comments. Fisher said Saban tried to call him, but declared the two “are done.”
The Southeastern Conference publicly reprimanded Saban on Thursday for his comments.