Saban apologizes for Texas A&M, Jackson State remarks
"I should have never singled anyone out," Saban said, according to Action Network's Brett McMurphy. "That was a mistake. I apologize for that."
Saban called out Texas A&M on Wednesday for "buying" players in its top-ranked recruiting class via NIL deals. The legendary coach also said Jackson State paid a player "a million dollars" to have him on the team last year.
The Crimson Tide boast the nation's second-ranked recruiting class this year, behind only the Aggies who signed five five-star recruits as well as over 20 four-star prospects.
Texas A&M sideline boss Jimbo Fisher blasted Saban on Thursday, calling the situation "despicable" and Saban a "narcissist." Fisher and Saban worked on the same coaching staff for multiple seasons at LSU.
Saban said Thursday that he tried to reach out to Fisher and Jackson State coach Deion Sanders.
"I never got a response," he said. "I feel bad about it. I'm not changing my philosophy. I look at the betterment of college football."
Saban insisted Fisher and Sanders didn't break any rules.
"I wasn't saying anyone did anything illegal," he said. "That was something that was assumed. That wasn't what I meant or what I said. It's not illegal. It's the system that allows you (to) do it (that I have a problem with)."
Saban added: "My concern is college football in general. I think a lot of us are concerned about it. People want to understand what's happening in college football, why players are transferring and getting money to do so?"
Sanders doesn't intend to speak with Saban privately, though he still respects the Alabama coach.
"We need to talk publicly, not privately," Sanders said, according to Andscape's Jean-Jacques Taylor.
He added: You can't do that publicly and call privately. No, no, no. I still love him. I admire him. I respect him. ... But he took a left when he should've stayed right. I'm sure he'll get back on course."
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued a public reprimand of Saban and Fisher for their comments.
"The membership of the Southeastern Conference has established expectations for conduct and sportsmanship that were not met last night nor today," the statement reads.
"A hallmark of the SEC is intense competition within an environment of collaboration. Public criticism of any kind does not resolve issues and creates a distraction from seeking solutions for the issues facing college athletics today.
"There is tremendous frustration concerning the absence of consistent rules from state to state related to name, image and likeness. We need to work together to find solutions and that will be our focus at the upcoming SEC Spring Meetings."