You knew Kirby Smart was going to be asked about the recent beef between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.
And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Georgia head coach spent his time downplaying the stinging comments made by the two coaches.
“I’m not really worried about a feud between two guys who used to sit in the same staff meetings and have similar conversations,” Smart told reporters at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla. “At the end of the day, sometimes things get heated. You’d rather that not be in the public arena but at the end of the day things like that happen.
“You guys should be on the headphones sometimes. You’d think that was Mickey Mouse.”
Smart worked with both Saban and Fisher when the now Georgia head coach was on the 2004 LSU coaching staff. Smart also served as the defensive coordinator at Alabama from 2008 through 2015.
Saban ignited the beef when claiming that Texas A&M had paid for its entire recruiting class, which finished ranked No. 1 in the country. Fisher then held a press conference the next day and went scorched earth in both defending his program and attacking Saban.
“You can call me anything you want to call me. You ain’t call me a cheat. I don’t cheat and I don’t lie,” Fisher said. “I learned that when I was a kid, if you did that, your old man slapped you ‘side the head. Maybe somebody should have slapped him [Nick Saban].”
Saban later apologized for his comments and both coaches were given a public reprimand by the SEC.
Saban’s original comments were fueled by concerns over NIL, something Smart and many of the other league coaches share.
Yet while Smart does have his concerns about the future of the sport, he made clear on Tuesday that he can really only focus on what is directly in front of him.
Not some simmering beef from a few weeks ago.
“My phone started blowing up right when Jimbo’s press conference and I haven’t thought about it a day since,” Smart said. “In the world we operate in, you’re worried about what’s in front of you right now. Which is the 15 recruits I’m trying to get on the phone, the conversations I’m trying to have.”
While the Saban-Fisher beef might be the most publicly interesting story from this week’s meetings, much more important matters will be discussed by the SEC. Among them include future scheduling ideas, the possible elimination of divisions, the transfer portal and the future of the College Football Playoff.
Georgia is not slated to see either Texas A&M or Alabama on the schedule this season but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if either team were to meet Georgia in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs are favored to win the SEC West, while the Crimson Tide and Aggies are favored out of the SEC West.
The Bulldogs open the 2022 season against Oregon, with the two teams meeting on Sept. 3 in Atlanta. Alabama and Texas A&M meet on Oct. 8.
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