ATLANTA — Steve Spurrier heard enough about the Nick Saban-Jimbo Fisher war of words to have some questions of his own.
“I don’t know why (Fisher) is mad at Saban,” said Spurrier, a College Football Hall of Famer known best for winning six SEC Championships in 12 years as a coach at Florida along with a Heisman Trophy as a player.
“Did Saban say something that wasn’t true?”
Saban infuriated Fisher on Wednesday when he matter-of-factly stated that Texas A&M “bought every player …. Made a deal for name, image and likeness.”
There has been great debate and different interpretations of the application of the legislation passed allowing for student-athletes to secure deals related to the usage of their name, image and likeness.
Fisher vehemently denied Texas A&M did anything illegal, and launched into a personal attack questioning Saban’s integrity and character, referring to him as “despicable” and as a “narcissist.”
Spurrier, famous for wise-cracking gamesmanship that often rattled and distracted opponents, seemed to side with Saban in what has become one of the most polarizing public exchanges in college football history.
“I don’t think Saban told any lies in there, so I don’t know what he was mad about,” said Spurrier, who is still the most recent SEC East Division coach to beat Saban in a regular-season game, back in 2010 while coaching South Carolina.
“Since (Fisher) beat him last year, I guess he can talk now,” Spurrier said, referring to Fisher becoming the first former Saban assistant to beat the legendary coach last season.
“He hasn’t beat much of anybody, but he beat Saban last year. But they haven’t won the division or anything since he’s been there.”
Spurrier has taken his pokes at Saban over the years as well as Fisher, so it wouldn’t seem “The Head Ball Coach” would have any reason to play favorites.
Spurrier once questioned if Saban had “maxed out” performances at Alabama considering he had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation for seven consecutive years (2011-2017).
The former Florida coaching legend likely angered Alabama fans last season when he predicted before the season that Kirby Smart and Georgia would “probably hit the top pretty soon.”
“He’s got a team this year that possibly could go all the way,” Spurrier said last August. “When you have strong powerful teams the way he has built them, pretty soon they will get to the top of the pile.”
Spurrier also said at that time Saban “could go another 10 years if he wants to” in coaching.
Spurrier was 3-1 against Saban head-to-head, beating him both times Florida played LSU during Saban’s tenure, and splitting with him when South Carolina played Alabama in 2009 and 2010.
Ironically, Spurrier was recently in Birmingham to accept the inaugural Nick Saban Legacy Award, honored along with the late Eddie Robinson.
“Steve was always an icon in terms of how you scheme offensively and really a great play-caller, was really hard to defend because he was really unpredictable -- but not unpredictable in a bad way but always well-prepared,” Saban said at the vent, per AL.com. “And his offensive teams were always well-coached and really hard to defend.
“And, to be honest with you, we never had a whole lot of success against him if you really want to look at the records.”
Spurrier and Fisher met just once as head coaches back in 2010, when Fisher’s Florida State Seminoles beat Spurrier’s Gamecocks 26-17 in the Peach Bowl.
The most notable time Spurrier and Fisher entered into a high-profile mutual discussion was in 2010, when both coaches agreed it would be best for the Florida-Florida State game to be played at the beginning of the season.
“It makes too much sense to play the game at the beginning of the season,” Fisher added with a laugh, according to the Orlando Sentinel, “which is probably why we’ll never do it.”
Fisher was right about that, to this point, but many are debating the comments that he and Saban made about one another.