Gene Stallings last coached Alabama football 26 years ago. On Thursday, he’s said he’s glad he’s not coaching in today’s game.
Stallings, 87, met with reporters while in Tuscaloosa for the RISE golf tournament of champions at NorthRiver Yacht Club and the Chip in for RISE event. It’s one of the largest fundraisers for the center, which helps provide early intervention services to “an inclusive population while serving children with special needs at no cost to families,” according to its website.
Stallings didn’t thin words about the current state of college football.
“First of all, you have to handle them with kid gloves because if you’re really tough and rough on them sometimes, they’ll leave,” Stallings said. “And they can leave without a penalty. They can go and be eligible immediately. I think the NCAA made a mistake when they allowed a player to transfer and play immediately. I think they made a mistake when they allowed them to transfer for no reason . That’s just a personal opinion.”
Stallings, who during the 1992 season coached Alabama to its first national championship since Paul W. “Bear” Bryant’s tenure, said he does not like the new rules that allow players to profit off their name, image and likeness.
“I’m opposed to paying the player,” Stallings said. “It’s not professional football. It’s college football. I’m not opposed to the player getting some help, but if you checked it, a normal college player, he gets a whole lot more help than you think he does.”
Stallings said he sees too much focus on the individual and not the team in today’s college football. Stallings said a key to the success of his team winning the national championship was that it wasn’t a group of selfish players.
“Now it’s the individual that’s important because he’s going to be able to generate a certain amount of income himself,” Stallings said. “I think that’s going to hurt the team. Here I’m the offensive guard and I block for somebody who generates a certain amount of money, he wouldn’t have made all that money if I hadn’t blocked for him. We’ ve got to appreciate the guy who blocks for the runner. Otherwise, we’re going to have some problems in college football.”
One team that has been brought up around the new era of NIL is Texas A&M, Stallings’ alma mater, where he also had his first head coaching job from 1965-71.
Stallings noted the Aggies’ strong recruiting class. Texas A&M finished with the No. 1 group for 2022 according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
On national signing day in February, Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher spoke strongly against the idea that the Aggies bought their No. 1 recruiting class, calling the idea insulting.
Stallings, who lives on his ranch in Paris, Texas, also heard the conversation around Texas A&M’s No. 1 class.
“There’s a certain amount of discussion back-and-forth of, did he recruit them or did he buy them?” Stallings said. “I don’t know. Now when you can buy a player, that makes a difference. I can’t imagine the NCAA allowing that to happen. But it’s legal now.”
Stallings added that Fisher has recruited well but needs to win a championship considering how much Fisher is being paid.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men’s basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly