One of the wildest and most explicit public exchanges of high-profile coaches concluded Thursday afternoon with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey having the final word.
Sankey’s public reprimands and issued statement, complete with the league bylaws that were violated cited, won’t ease the animosity between Saban and Fisher anytime soon.
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Here are four takeaways from what will surely go down as one of the more interesting exchanges in college football history
Saban and Fisher have a feud that has been building for years, to the extent Fisher indicated that coaching under Florida State legend Bobby Bowden he learned how to do things while coaching under Saban at LSU he learned how not to do things
Fisher was hired by Texas A&M to displace Saban and Alabama at the top fo the SEC West, and May he pledged at a Touchdown Club meeting in Houston that “We’re going to beat his ass even when he’s there.”
Fisher and the Aggies made good on that promise, beating the Crimson Tide 41-38 last October.
Texas A&M beat Alabama again — along with the rest of the college football world — by landing the No. 1-ranked recruiting class of 2022.
The way NIL is currently structured, programs with deeper and richer resources are at a tremendous advantage.
The Aggies had $47.7 million in donations last season — a fifth of the total donations the 13 public SEC schools had combined last year, per an SI.com report — while Texas led all programs with $60 million in donations.
Following the rules
Saban, along with Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, has publicly taken issue with what they suggested was an inappropriate application of NIL usage by Texas A&M.
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Schools are not supposed to induce players with promises of NIL deals, but Saban stated on Wednesday night that Fisher and Texas A&M had done just that.
“We were second in recruiting last year, A&M was first, (and) A&M bought every player on their team,” Saban said. “Made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn’t buy one player.”
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Fisher referred to Saban as a “despicable … narcissist,” and questioned how Saban views himself after being propped up by fans and some media.
“Some people think they are God. Go dig into how God did his deal,” Fisher said. “You may find out things about a guy and a lot of things you don’t want to know.
“We build him up to be the czar of football, go dig into his past, or anybody that’s ever coached for him,” said Fisher, who served as an assistant to Saban from 2000-2004 at LSU.
“You can find out anything you want to find out, what he does and how he does it, and it’s despicable.”
The SEC can thank its lucky stars for Sankey, who commands the sort of respect among the league coaches, athletic directors and presidents needed to get the issue back on track.
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Sankey correctly suggested in his statement that the level of competition within SEC programs has intersected with the inconsistency of NIL rulings to trigger the furious, fiery and yes, historic, exchange.
“A hallmark of the SEC is intense competition within an environment of collaboration,” Sankey stated.
“There is tremendous frustration concerning the absence of consistent rules from state to state related to name, image and likeness. We need to work together to find solutions and that will be our focus at the upcoming SEC Spring Meetings.”
Saban apologized on Thursday for singling out programs and, as Sankey suggested, shifted his focus to how the NIL issues might be solved at the SEC Spring Meetings May 31-June 3 in Destin, Fla.