Speaking to reporters at a golf event, Saban said emphatically, “We’re not messing with anyone.”
But that’s what Louisville coach Scott Satterfield suggested to 247 Sports in a story published last week. Satterfield said he believed the mess happened with Harrell but he couldn’t prove it.
Harrell, who had 18 passes for 532 yards and six touchdowns last season, entered the gate on April 12. Ten days later, he committed to Alabama.
“I don’t know anyone who messed with him,” Saban said of Harrell. “You know, I don’t really know that anyone has manipulated our players. I just think sometimes when things happen, it makes you wonder. So I don’t make any accusations against anyone who did anything to our players and I don’t have any” Knowing anyone has done anything with anyone else’s players.”
Saban acknowledged that it is difficult to control third parties “whether directly or indirectly” by involving themselves in the hiring process.
“But you know, when you have a guy who leaves your show and goes somewhere else the day after the game, I have no evidence of anything happening and I don’t make any accusations, but it makes you wonder, I think,” he said. “But hopefully we can have enough honesty and integrity between us professionally in our sport that people stick to the rules.”
Saban has warned in the past about the unintended consequences of the transfer portal and players who earn money by name, photo, and example.
He said players should be able to make money, but this is the latest change in college football that is moving away from what he said is a long-term goal of parity.
“If we don’t create that balance, I think it will affect the competitive level of the game in the future and maybe even affect other sports,” he said. “But so hopefully someone can figure that out.”
Saban was asked if he was concerned about the future of the sport.
“I think we’re always looking for a better way,” he said. “And I think we might need some solution to some of the unintended consequences of some of the things that have happened now. And I think we have a lot of people working on that. And I think a lot of people are interested in trying to make our game as competitive with some kind of equality as possible. And I’m sure Some people will come up with some solutions
“But you have to be able to adapt to the circumstances, and that’s definitely what we’ve been trying to do.”
Harrell wasn’t the only notable Alabama player to pull out of the transfer window this off-season.
Crimson Tide has signed former LSU All-SEC defensive linebacker Eli Ricks and Georgia Tech All-ACC former back/return specialist Jahmyr Gibbs. They also signed receiver Jermaine Burton, who has led Georgia in receptions for the past two seasons, and attacking lineman Tyler Steen, who started three seasons at Vanderbilt.