CFP notes: NIL, transfer portal benefiting Alabama, Georgia

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Neither Kirby Smart nor Nick Saban really wanted to talk about the effects of Name, Image and Likeness and the transfer portal on the eve of their teams’ national championship matchup here. But they were asked about it Sunday, so they answered.

This is the first year of NIL, which allows players to make money off endorsements and merchandise. While both programs appear to have benefited from the new legislation, the coaches have concerns about where it is leading.

“I think what is a little concerning is how it is used to get players to decide where they go to school, because I don’t think that was the intention,” Saban said during the College Football Playoff Championship head coaches’ press conference. “I don’t think that would be the NCAA’s intention. I think we probably need some kind of national legislation to sort of control that to some degree, because I think there will be an imbalance relative to who can dominate college football if that’s not regulated in some form or fashion.”

As indicated just by their presence here in the national title game, Alabama and Georgia are among teams benefitting from the new rules. When it comes to transfers, good players that aren’t finding team success at other places are looking to join the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide. Conversely, players unable to break through with the major powers seek opportunities where they have a better chance to get on the field.

A lot of that movement, Smart pointed out, is taking place while they’re preparing to play the biggest game of the year Monday night.

“It’s tough to navigate right now,” Smart said. “We’re getting ready to play for a national championship, and a lot of the market, the free-agency market out there that’s going on, is being done while we’re trying to prepare for a national championship game. … Then you move to NIL, and I agree with coach, you’re going to have the haves and have-nots and the separations that’s already there is going to grow larger.”

Reportedly, there have been more than 1,300 football players enter the NCAA’s transfer portal since August.

“I don’t know if you want to call it a fad or whatever, but anybody that’s a little discontented with the program that they’re in, just get in the transfer portal and see what my opportunities would be someplace else,” Saban said. “I don’t know that that was the intention originally. I hope it doesn’t continue to be that way.”

Final preparations

The Bulldogs got their first look at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Both Georgia and Alabama got separate opportunities to hold walk-through practices on the field they will compete on Monday night. The practices were closed to media and fans.

Unlike Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Georgia and Alabama have met four times, neither has played in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

While, Georgia has lost its last seven games in a row to the Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs actually had a modest win streak before that. Georgia won three in a row between 2002 and 2007. Two of those games were played in Tuscaloosa and the other in Athens.

Alabama leads the all-time series 25-42-4.

Impactful weather

According to organizers, more than 100,000 people are expected to descend upon Indianapolis for Monday’s game. While Lucas Oil seats just under 70,000 spectators for football, many are coming to town just for the parties and events.

Some of the events planned to entertain visitors have had to be canceled because of weather. A repelling and dancing performance scheduled for Saturday night on the side of the Salesforce Tower in downtown Indy was canceled due to wet weather and icy conditions. So was a drone show. They planned to try again on Sunday.

A downtown concert encountered a lengthy delay while the area was de-iced. Meanwhile, police cleared a crowd gathered for the free Doja Cat concert near Monument Circle Saturday after a man waiting in line to get in made a bomb threat, according to the Indianapolis Star. The man was taken into custody and there was no bomb or any real threat, police said. The crowd was reconvened and the concert commenced after a 20-minute delay.

Fan Fest inside the Indianapolis Convention Center was well attended Sunday. Most events are being held outside, however. Sunday’s weather was relatively mild with a high of 36 degrees. Monday morning called for a low of 10 and high of 26. No precipitation was expected.