SCOTTSDALE, AZ (WIS) - As a college athlete, it's already tough enough having to make the decision whether or not to declare for the NFL Draft.
That decision could become even more of a disruption if that player is just days away from playing in a bowl game or a national title game. That's what many juniors from Clemson and Alabama are dealing with right now. On the eve of the biggest game of the year, the last thing Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney want is for any of their players to be distracted by the chance of possibly playing at the next level. So far, Swinney says he hasn't had that problem.
"They're focused on the game," Swinney said. "All these guys understand that they have a tremendous opportunity, and they've done a nice job of focusing on getting themselves ready. But I think decisions or announcements or whatever, Tweets, whatever they do, will be pretty quick when the game is over."
Still, the idea of players worrying about what to do next season with bowl games or championship games looming is something that has not been something that Saban has been too fond of.
"I tried to develop a little energy from college coaches who had players that are in this situation that you just asked him about, and the NFL moved the draft back," Saban said. "I wish they'd move the declare date back. I wish they'd make a rule that says you can't even give a player what his draft status is from the NFL playoff committee until they've finished their competition as a college player, so that you don't put them and their family in this situation where there's a big timing issue relative to competition."
Saban also brought up the idea back at SEC Media Days in July. There, he said allowing a player to have at least a week to make the decision following his final game would be beneficial.
"I think a rule that says you don't get information to players on draft status until after they've completed their college competition would be beneficial," he told reporters in Hoover.
Swinney agreed with Saban's comments on Sunday, saying the whole thing was essentially a distraction for players.
"There's no doubt, it's a distraction that all of us have to deal with," Swinney said. "Obviously, it's just two of us left at this point. You get the grades, and some guys, they didn't get the grade that they want. So they're pouting a little bit and got to pick themselves up. Then, you get the guy that gets the grade he wants. I echo that 100 percent. It really should be when the season is over, whenever that is, and they should hold those things. But that's the system we're dealing with right now."
Saban says he has tried to "develop a little energy" among other coaches in college football regarding the matter. And SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is well aware of Saban's opinion on the matter. However, Sankey says that decision is out of his hands for now.
"I think we've got to deal now with the structure that exists," Sankey said. "We've been, from a conference perspective, pretty clear about intentional efforts to communicate with young people who are trying to make those decisions or their resources that can help them understand their status. From a standpoint of identifying solutions, we'll continue in that conversation. We have over years. There's, I think, a more effective feedback that is provided to students now as they're trying to figure it out. That's been a point in communication. I think there's positive opportunities for some dialogue."