DiscoverUntil Saturday: A show about college footballELITE Nick Saban stories, Alabama's standard + ex-player on CFB evolution with Damien Harris
ELITE Nick Saban stories, Alabama's standard + ex-player on CFB evolution with Damien Harris

ELITE Nick Saban stories, Alabama's standard + ex-player on CFB evolution with Damien Harris

Update: 2024-05-31
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Damian Harris, a former Alabama and NFL running back, joins the Until Saturday podcast to discuss his recent retirement from the NFL. He shares his experience playing for Nick Saban, describing the intense competition and high expectations at Alabama. Harris reflects on the transition of college football, particularly the impact of NIL and the influx of money into the sport. He expresses concern about the lack of financial literacy among young players and suggests a system that caps NIL earnings while incentivizing players to complete their degrees. Harris also discusses his experience playing for Bill Belichick in the NFL, highlighting the similarities and differences between the two legendary coaches. The conversation concludes with a fun trivia segment where Harris tests his knowledge of his college career.

Outlines

00:00:00
Introduction and Guest Introduction

This Chapter introduces the Until Saturday podcast and welcomes Damian Harris, a former Alabama and NFL running back, as the guest for this special edition.

00:01:15
Damian Harris' Retirement and Life After Football

This Chapter delves into Damian Harris' recent retirement from the NFL on March 25th. He shares how his life has changed since retiring, focusing on his newfound role as a husband and father. Harris reflects on the circumstances surrounding his retirement, which involved a neck injury that forced him to walk away from the game.

00:03:55
Nick Saban's Retirement and the Future of College Football

This Chapter explores the impact of Nick Saban's retirement on Damian Harris and the landscape of college football. Harris recounts his reaction to the news and shares his thoughts on Saban's legacy as a coach and an ambassador for the sport. He expresses concern about the potential consequences of the influx of money into college football without proper guidance for young players.

00:08:28
Playing for Nick Saban: A Look Behind the Scenes

This Chapter provides insights into Damian Harris' experience playing for Nick Saban at Alabama. He describes the demanding yet fair coaching style, comparing Saban to Michael Jordan in his approach to practice and preparation. Harris emphasizes Saban's focus on developing players both on and off the field, instilling values of professionalism and character.

00:14:20
Choosing Alabama: A Story of Trust and Opportunity

This Chapter recounts Damian Harris' decision to attend Alabama despite the intense competition for playing time. He explains his initial intention to stay home and play for Kentucky but ultimately felt drawn to Alabama, believing in the program's commitment to fairness and opportunity. Harris emphasizes his confidence in his abilities and his dedication to hard work, which ultimately led to his success at Alabama.

00:17:42
The Pressure of Playing for a National Championship

This Chapter explores the immense pressure associated with playing for Alabama, where a national championship is the expected outcome every year. Harris describes the relentless pursuit of excellence, starting from spring practice and continuing throughout the season. He acknowledges the emotional toll of falling short of expectations, particularly after losing in the national championship game during his senior year.

00:29:05
The Impact of NIL on College Football

This Chapter delves into the impact of NIL on college football, particularly the potential financial benefits for players. Harris reflects on the significant amount of money that players are making now compared to his time in college and acknowledges that he could have earned more if he had played in the current era. He expresses concern about the potential for financial mismanagement among young players and the need for financial literacy education.

00:40:25
The Return of the College Football Video Game

This Chapter discusses the return of the College Football video game and the financial compensation that players are receiving for being included in the game. Harris shares his experience playing the game in high school and his excitement for the upcoming release. He also reflects on the potential impact of the game on locker room dynamics, particularly regarding player ratings.

Keywords

Damian Harris
Damian Harris is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. He played college football at the University of Alabama, where he was a two-time national champion and the school's all-time leader in yards per carry. Harris was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft and played four seasons in the league before announcing his retirement in March 2023.

Nick Saban
Nick Saban is an American football coach who is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport. He is the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, a position he has held since 2007. Saban has won seven national championships with Alabama, including six in the last 13 years. He is known for his demanding coaching style and his focus on building a strong program both on and off the field. Saban's success at Alabama has made him a household name and a highly respected figure in the world of college football.

NIL
NIL stands for Name, Image, and Likeness. It refers to the ability of college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness through endorsements, sponsorships, and other commercial activities. The NCAA previously prohibited athletes from profiting from their NIL, but in 2021, the organization changed its rules to allow athletes to monetize their NIL. This change has had a significant impact on college athletics, particularly in football and basketball, as athletes are now able to earn substantial sums of money through NIL deals.

College Football
College football is a popular sport in the United States, with a long and storied history. It is played at the collegiate level, with teams competing in conferences across the country. The sport is known for its intense rivalries, passionate fan bases, and high level of competition. College football is also a major source of revenue for universities, with many programs generating millions of dollars annually. The sport has been the subject of much debate in recent years, particularly regarding the issue of athlete compensation and the role of the NCAA.

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick is an American football coach who is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. He is the head coach of the New England Patriots, a position he has held since 2000. Belichick has won six Super Bowl championships with the Patriots, making him the most successful coach in NFL history. He is known for his meticulous attention to detail, his innovative coaching strategies, and his ability to build a winning culture. Belichick's success has made him a highly respected figure in the NFL and a legend in the sport.

Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide is a college football team that competes in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team is based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and has a long and storied history of success. The Crimson Tide have won 18 national championships, the most of any team in college football history. Alabama is known for its strong program, its passionate fan base, and its ability to consistently recruit top talent. The team has been a dominant force in college football for decades, and its success has made it one of the most recognizable and respected programs in the country.

Madden NFL
Madden NFL is a popular video game franchise that simulates American football. The game is named after legendary NFL coach John Madden and has been a staple of the gaming world since its debut in 1988. Madden NFL is known for its realistic gameplay, its extensive roster of players and teams, and its deep franchise mode. The game is a popular choice for fans of American football and has become a cultural phenomenon, with its ratings and player rankings often discussed and debated by fans and players alike.

Transfer Portal
The transfer portal is an online system that allows college athletes to enter their names into a database, making them available to other schools. The transfer portal was created in 2018 and has become a major force in college athletics, particularly in football and basketball. The portal allows athletes to change schools without having to sit out a year, making it easier for them to find a new home and continue their athletic careers. The transfer portal has also led to increased competition among schools, as they now have to compete for players who are no longer bound to their original institutions.

SEC
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is a major college athletic conference in the United States. The conference is based in the southeastern region of the country and is known for its strong football programs. The SEC has won 13 of the last 17 national championships in college football, making it the most dominant conference in the sport. The conference is also known for its passionate fan bases, its intense rivalries, and its high level of competition. The SEC is a major force in college athletics and is considered one of the most prestigious conferences in the country.

Q&A

  • What was Damian Harris' experience like playing for Nick Saban at Alabama?

    Harris describes Saban's coaching style as demanding yet fair, emphasizing the intense competition and high expectations at Alabama. He highlights Saban's focus on developing players both on and off the field, instilling values of professionalism and character.

  • How has the landscape of college football changed since Damian Harris played, particularly with the introduction of NIL?

    Harris expresses concern about the influx of money into college football without proper guidance for young players. He suggests a system that caps NIL earnings while incentivizing players to complete their degrees.

  • What are the similarities and differences between Nick Saban and Bill Belichick as coaches?

    Harris highlights the similarities in their professionalism, attention to detail, and understanding of the game. He notes that both coaches are tyrants about the little things, but their approaches to addressing mistakes differ. Saban is more direct and passionate, while Belichick is more monotone and focused on the details.

  • What are Damian Harris' thoughts on the return of the College Football video game and the compensation players are receiving?

    Harris is excited about the game's return and acknowledges the financial benefits for players. However, he also expresses concern about the potential for players to feel entitled and the need for financial literacy education.

  • How does Damian Harris feel about the transfer portal and its impact on college football?

    Harris believes that the transfer portal has created a different mentality among players, making it easier for them to switch schools. However, he personally would not have been inclined to transfer, even with the financial incentives available today.

  • What are Damian Harris' thoughts on Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC?

    Harris believes that Texas and Oklahoma will be a significant addition to the SEC, bringing rich football history, talent, and resources. He expects them to be competitive with the top programs in the conference, particularly Alabama and Georgia.

  • How did Damian Harris adjust to the NFL after playing for Nick Saban at Alabama?

    Harris found the transition relatively easy, as the level of competition and the emphasis on professionalism were similar in both environments. He credits his experience at Alabama for preparing him for the demands of the NFL.

  • What is Damian Harris' favorite memory from his time playing at Alabama?

    Harris' favorite memory is from his junior year homecoming game against Arkansas. He scored a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, and the crowd erupted in celebration as Dixieland Delight, a popular Alabama fight song, was played for the first time in years.

  • What are Damian Harris' thoughts on the future of college football with the continued evolution of NIL and the transfer portal?

    Harris believes that the sport is in a state of flux and that the future is uncertain. He hopes to see more emphasis on financial literacy and guidance for young players as they navigate the complexities of NIL and the transfer portal.

  • What is Damian Harris' advice for young players entering college football in the current era?

    Harris encourages young players to focus on their development both on and off the field, to prioritize their education, and to seek guidance from trusted advisors. He emphasizes the importance of staying grounded and not getting caught up in the hype and financial opportunities that are now available.

Show Notes

Former stud Alabama running back and NFL vet Damien Harris joins Chris Vannini on today's show! Damien opens up about how his family and newborn son have helped him weather his difficult transition out of the NFL following a scary injury last season with the Buffalo Bills. He also weaves some hilarious and insightful stories about Nick Saban, his former coach. Damien opines on NIL, the transfer portal, EA Sports College Football 25, the NFL and Bill Belichick and more. Lastly, Chris tests Damien's knowledge of his career in a game of trivia.


Who's the Big Ten dark horse? Sign up for our FREE newsletter to answer future Questions of the Day: https://theathletic.com/newsletters/until-saturday


Rundown:

- Damien Harris on the end of his NFL career and family (1:00 )

- What was Damien's reaction to Saban's retirement? (4:00 )

- Crimson Tide's epic RB room with Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, et. al (12:00 )

- Why didn't you transfer? (14:00 )

- Kalen DeBoer & expectations in Tuscaloosa (17:00 )

- Clemson battles & hate (23:00 )

- Favorite memory from college (26:30 )

- Death of amateurism & how would Damien have navigated NIL, player compensation (29:00 )

- EA Sports College Football 25 (38:30 )

- Transfer portal's impact (45:30 )

- Texas, Oklahoma transition to the SEC (47:00 )

- Bill Belichick impressions + NFL experience (53:00 )

- Damien Harris trivia (58:30 )


Call/text the Until Saturday phone and leave us a question for a future mailbag and/or Sunday Sound-Off podcast: (316) 462-9852

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ELITE Nick Saban stories, Alabama's standard + ex-player on CFB evolution with Damien Harris

ELITE Nick Saban stories, Alabama's standard + ex-player on CFB evolution with Damien Harris

The Athletic