Alabama head coach Nick Saban has created headlines by calling out college football programs for paying recruits through name, image and likeness deals. Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders didn’t take kindly to Saban’s assertion that the school coughed up $1 million for one of the best players in the country.

"Hell, read about it in the paper,” Saban said Wednesday at an event with local business leaders in Birmingham, Alabama. “I mean, Jackson State paid a guy $1 million last year that was a really good Division I player to come to the school. It was in the paper, and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it. I mean, these guys at Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000, it's in the newspaper. The guy tells you how he's doing it."

Saban is likely referring to Travis Hunter, who announced in December that he’ll be playing for Sanders at Jackson State. Considered by some to be the nation’s top high school player, Hunter became the first five-star recruit to commit to an FCS school in the last 15 years.

It was speculated at the time that an NIL deal was the impetus for Hunter to pick Jackson State over Florida State and other FBS schools. Sanders vehemently denied rumors that Hunter will receive seven figures in order to play for the HBCU.

“You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow,” Sanders tweeted when he heard about Saban’s comments. “We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.”

Sanders led Jackson State to an 11-2 record last season in his second year as the program’s head coach. Jackson State was defeated by South Carolina State in the only 2021 bowl game that featured a pair of FCS teams.

Texas A&M’s 2022 recruiting class is considered to be the best of all time. Saban claimed that the Aggies “bought every player on their team” with NIL deals, while Alabama had the No. 2 recruiting class “the right way.”

Twenty-five Alabama players made a combined $3 million last year through NIL deals. Last July, Saban said Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young was making almost $1 million in NIL deals.

Nick Saban Alabama
Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide yells at Xavian Marks after he attempted a kickoff return against the Kentucky Wildcats at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Oct. 1, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Getty Images