Before becoming a central figure in a postgame fight after Texas A&M’s seven-overtime victory over LSU, Cole Fisher had to restrain an Aggies assistant coach who charged toward the Tigers’ sideline immediately following the game.
Sports Illustrated obtained an eight-second video clip of footage shot in the immediate aftermath of last Saturday’s thriller in College Station, showing the event that triggered the physical altercation involving Fisher, LSU analyst Steve Kragthorpe, LSU director of player development Kevin Faulk and LSU safety John Battle. In the video, Dameyune Craig, a former LSU assistant who now coaches receivers for the Aggies, runs across the field toward Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron, swinging a balled fist in celebration of his team’s win over his former school and the coach who fired him in February 2017. Craig is seen shouting at Orgeron and moving within three feet of the coach before being physically restrained by Fisher, Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher’s nephew who is a student manager for the team.
The video then shows Craig stalking the LSU sideline confronting other members of the LSU football team, including a close encounter with starting quarterback Joe Burrow, all the while with Fisher attempting to restrain the coach. Toward the end of the clip, Craig bumps into what appears to be a member of the team’s strength staff, prompting several staff members to surround the coach and Fisher seconds before the altercation transpires. Craig rushed across the field so quickly that he did not detach his headset device, and the headsets are clearly visible dangling near his feet, trampled over by Craig and Fisher in this mad dash.
The video is one of many that the Southeastern Conference office is assessing in determining potential ramifications from an incident that has caused public sparring from these two SEC West programs, each issuing over the last few days somewhat contrasting statements about the fight. The Houston Chronicle on Monday published multiple video clips of the clash, showing Faulk and Fisher entangled in an physical altercation. The clip also shows Battle, a veteran member of the Tigers’ secondary, punching Fisher across the cheek after Fisher attempts to land at least two jabs to Faulk’s left cheek. The parties were separated at that point.
The videos emerged one day after Kragthorpe revealed in an interview with USA Todaythat Fisher punched him in the chest and affected his pacemaker. The Chronicle’s video shows Fisher shoving Kragthorpe, a 53-year-old man who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, in the chest before he becomes embroiled in the altercation with Faulk and Battle. On the same day, Texas A&M released a statement from its campus police department claiming Kragthorpe “initially said he was hit but later retracted the statement.”
Late Monday night, Robert Munson, an LSU senior associate athletic director, posted a terse message on his Twitter account repudiating that account. “Steve Kragthorpe did not retract his statement that he was hit in the area of his pacemaker,” he wrote. “Any reports that suggest otherwise are false and misleading.”
These two universities are no strangers to public squabbles. Most recently, they were embroiled in a nearly three-year lawsuit regarding a $400,000 contractual buyout of previous LSU and then A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis, now at Arkansas. The SEC as well as the Baton Rouge judge presiding over the case urged the two sides to settle. The in-game and postgame events of last weekend have added significantly more sizzle to a rivalry that lacked sauce—on the field. LSU had won seven straight before Saturday’s loss, the only SEC West team to have never lost to the Aggies since they joined the league in 2012. A year later, the SEC structured the schedule to pit them together at the season’s end in a border-war type rivalry series.
The disagreements between the schools are as deep as the connections. For two years in 2014 and 2016, their season-ending game was played on Thanksgiving night in College Station, but was played on Saturday in Baton Rouge, because LSU would not agree to host a game on a holiday night. Jimbo Fisher’s hiring at Texas A&M stoked the fires, too. A former LSU offensive coordinator, Fisher and the school had flirted with one another multiple times over the years.
There are more coaching connections. Texas A&M linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto spent seven seasons at LSU before Orgeron fired him a day after the school announced him as permanent head coach in November of 2016. Texas A&M associate athletic director Austin Thomas served in a similar role at LSU for several years before leaving the program less than a year ago.