Alabama head coach Nick Saban is receiving significant backlash after calling out multiple programs over alleged NIL transgressions on Wednesday. While speaking at an event, Saban publicly named Texas A&M, Jackson State, and Miami as programs that are abusing the system.
He didn't mince words, stating that the Aggies "bought every player on their team" in the process of landing the No. 1 recruiting class in 2022, one spot ahead of Alabama.
“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said according to AL.com. “You read about it, you know who they are. We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness."
“We didn’t buy one player. Aight? But I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future, because more and more people are doing it. It’s tough.”
On Thursday, Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher didn't just respond to Saban's comments, he called him out in an epic rant during a press conference. Fisher also alluded that Saban was running a dirty program of his own.
“It’s despicable that someone can say something about someone, and more importantly 17-year-old kids, taking shots at 17-year-old kids and their families, that they broke state laws, that we bought every player in this group,” Fisher said. “We didn’t buy anybody.”
Typically, coaches have been providing off-the-record comments to publicize their thoughts on Name, Image, and Likeness. What made this exchange so shocking is how Saban directly went after Texas A&M. Fisher didn't hold back, pushing the audience to dig into Saban's past if they're looking for someone that is breaking the rules.
“Some people [Saban] think they are God,” Fisher said. “Go dig into how God did his deal and you may find out a lot about a lot of things you don’t want to know. We build him up to be this czar of football, go dig into his past. You can find out anything you want to find out or what he does or how he does it.”
The former Florida State head coach did not provide specific examples of the actions he was implying. Regardless, it's a bold claim in this rising offseason drama that will likely continue to draw comments from the parties involved.
“It’s despicable when a reputable head coach can come out and say this when he doesn’t get his way, when things don’t go his way,” Fisher said. “The narcissist in him doesn’t allow that to happen.
“The parity in college football he’s talking about, go talk to coaches who coached for him," Fisher continued. "You’ll find all the parity. Go dig in. You can find out anything.”
Fisher went on to mention that Saban has attempted to call him since he made his comments about Texas A&M. Fisher hasn't responded to Saban and it sounds like he doesn't plan to.
“Not going to, we’re done," Fisher said. "He’s shown you who he is. He’s the greatest ever, huh? When you’ve got all the advantages, it’s easy."
“I don’t cheat and I don't lie,” Fisher continued. “I learned that as a kid. If you did, the old man slapped the side of the head. Maybe someone should have slapped him.”
The one-time national champion spent time under Saban and another legendary college football coach, Bobby Bowden, to earn his stripes before leading a program of his own. Fisher, who became the first former assistant to defeat Saban in 2021, made it clear he doesn't want to be associated with the Alabama head coach.
“You coach with people like Bobby Bowden and learn how to do things,” Fisher said. “You coach with other people and learn how not to do things. There is a reason I don't go back and work with him. I don’t want to be associated with him.”
This probably won't be the last chapter in this saga of discontent over NIL. It'll be interesting to see if the NCAA responds now that two high-profile college football head coaches are publicly making allegations against one another. To this point, the governing body of the sport has made it clear that they don't have much of a plan for action when it comes to programs circumventing the current rules in place for Name, Image, and Likeness.
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