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Nick Saban Can Learn from Bill Self on the Transfer Portal: Kevin Kietzman

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia

Alabama lost at home this past weekend for the first time since 2019, and it was also handed its worst loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium since 2004.

The Texas Longhorns slayed what has been the big, bad dragon that has run college football since Nick Saban took over back in 2007, and many folks are starting to think that the king of college football might be seeing his reign come to an end.

After all, Saban has had to watch one of his proteges, Kirby Smart, win each of the last two national championships, the first of which came in a victory over him.


However, Saban’s ability to adapt and overcome is one of the things that makes him the best college football coach ever, and Kevin Keitzman, host of the Kevin Kietzman has Issues Podcast, recently joined our very own Pete Mundo on the Heartland College Sports podcast to discuss something that might help Saban get back to the mountaintop.

“I think it’s interesting to see a team like Alabama, that doesn’t really embrace [the transfer portal] the way that some programs do,” Keitzman said. “Deion Sanders has said, ‘We’re not going to pay you to come here, but we’re going to make you the richest players in college football after you’re here if you’re producing.’ That’s a pretty good sales pitch. We all know Deion is about the money, so he backs that up.

“The Alabama comparison for me, would be Kansas basketball. They weren’t very good with the transfer portal the first year, and they have just crushed it now. Bill Self was very smart and said, ‘I’m not doing it that, I’ve got to do what everybody else is doing.’ At first, Kansas thought, ‘We’re Kansas basketball. We don’t need to pay these guys. We’re gonna be just fine.’ And then, uh oh, that doesn’t work. I think Alabama has found out with a couple of them that they don’t really want to be in the transfer portal game, Alabama doesn’t. But, they’re going to have to. It’s not like they don’t have the money. They just think they’re Alabama and they have Nick Saban and that’s enough. Some of these programs are a little bit stunted right now and are thinking, ‘Okay, we didn’t have to do what Missouri or K-State has to do in football. They’ve got to go pay these guys, we don’t have to do that.’ I think they’re finding out very quickly, they do have to do that.”


Bill Self has put together quite a squad through the transfer portal ahead of the 2023-24 season, and even nabbed the nation’s No. 1 portal target, Hunter Dickenson.

Alabama isn’t the only program that is starting to see the rest of the country start to catch stride in the everlong talent race in college football. Clemson, who won national championships in 2016 and 2018, is seeing its gap on the rest of the country close too, as was obvious in its 28-7 loss to Duke to open the season.

The world of college football is changing, and the coaches that are taking advantage of the transfer portal (i.e. Mike Norvell, Deion Sanders, Lincoln Riley) are going to see their teams inch closer and closer to the nation’s elite. Unless Saban follows in Bill Self’s footsteps, his perch atop the college football world might be occupied by someone else sooner than anyone anticipated.

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