UCLA QB Josh Rosen’s comments about the demands of being a student-athlete took social media by storm on Tuesday.
At his Thursday press conference, Nick Saban was asked if he thinks the demands of student-athletes have changed over time. Saban doesn’t see a huge change from his time at Kent State.
“I don’t know that it’s changed a whole lot,” he said. “We used to have two-a-days every day. We don’t have any two-a-days anymore. We don’t spend anymore time in fall camp than what we did when I played as a player. We don’t practice any longer during the course of the week. Look, I look at it the other way. We had 23, 29 and 22 guys play with their degrees over the last three years in their last game playing at Alabama. So, that means a lot of guys — even though football may be difficult, no one is here saying that it isn’t. No one is saying that school is not very difficult. No one is saying that getting a college education is not very difficult.
“But for a lot of those guys, being good football players is what created an opportunity for them to make a tremendous invest in their futures by graduating from school. I think that is a really, really good thing. Is it difficult? Probably. Was it difficult to me? Absolutely. I don’t think it’s any more difficult. It’s just never been easy. But I do think the reward of it all, the lessons that are learned being a part of a team, the lessons that are learned being a competitor in an environment like this or any college football program, the work ethic, the perseverance, the ability to overcome adversity, the lessons that you learn in life, I mean how valuable can those things be?
Saban believes the sacrifice of maintaining a full-time course load and being a member of the football team is a worthwhile investment for the players’ futures on and off the field.
“I mean everyday, you’re making a deposit for your future and your chances of being successful for your future. I think the difficulty and the sacrifice is well worth what it creates for a lot of players. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve graduated at a very high rate relative to everybody else — one of the top schools in the country. That’s our goal, to create value for our players. It is an opportunity. With an opportunity comes a burden. The burden is not necessarily easy so I get that. And you do it for your teammates and you do it for your future and your opportunity to be successful because you have a goal and an aspiration for what you want to accomplish and what you want to do in your life. I think it can make you a better parent. I think it can make you a better employee someday. I think it can make you a better at a lot of things.”