Nick Saban isn’t going to mince words, even to people he’s ostensibly trying to woo.
Ahead of 49ers vs. Cowboys, some words to 49ers QB Brock Purdy from Saban began to circulate, in which Saban apparently criticized the then-Arizona-based quarterback. Purdy, a three-star recruit, would eventually sign with Iowa State.
The rest, as they say, is history. Purdy threw for 12,170 yards in college on 67.7 percent passing with 81 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. The Big 12 quarterback was taken with the last pick of this year’s draft as the 2022 Mr. Irrelevant, and is now just a game away from becoming the first rookie to start a Super Bowl.
As a bit of serendipity, the Super Bowl is being played in Glendale, Arizona, just 40 minutes away from where Purdy played high school football in Gilbert, Arizona.
MORE: NFL conference championship round playoff odds, lines, and point spreads
What did Nick Saban say about Brock Purdy?
According to reports that circulated ahead of the 49ers vs. Cowboys, Saban had some cutting analysis of Purdy’s prospects.
Purdy’s high school coach Preston Jones told The Athletic Purdy’s meeting with Saban did not go well.
“Brock told me, ‘He didn’t really know me, Coach.'” Jones said, per The Athletic. He went on to say Saban told Purdy:
“You’re below average in height. Your arm strength is whatever. Your accuracy is average.’ And as soon as he mentioned the accuracy, Brock knew right away: ‘This guy doesn’t know me.’ Because, if anything, that’s his strength. He goes, ‘Coach, he didn’t know who I was.’
In spite of this, however, Alabama was one of just five schools to make an offer. Iowa State was another, along with Texas A&M, Boise State, and UCF.
Why did Brock Purdy choose Iowa State?
MORE: Ranking the Super Bowl 57 matchup combinations from best to worst
In truth, it was partially a matter of necessity that led to Purdy going to Iowa State.
More importantly, however, Purdy felt wanted.
“Basically every single one of them broke down why they want me, why they need me for the school, community and just the program in general and how I could go in there and get things rolling and take the program to the next level,” Purdy said in discussing Iowa State’s staff with 247Sports in 2018.
Purdy told The Athletic he wanted to “go somewhere and try to kick [Alabama’s] ass,” but ultimately Iowa State ended up being the most viable option.
It’s worth noting, Saban had a very full QB room at the time he recruited Purdy — The fit just wasn’t quite right. Tua Tagovailo, Mac Jones, and Bryce Young all played for the Crimson Tide while Purdy was at Iowa State. So it’s telling Saban made an offer despite these supposed shortcomings.
Purdy is continuing to defy expectations with the 49ers, and he’ll look to do so again against the Eagles. He’s obviously playing with a chip on his shoulder. It seems like Saban is just the latest addition to the block.