The 2022 college football offseason has certainly been interesting for the SEC.
Earlier this week, Alabama football head coach Nick Saban called out Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher over issues regarding Name, Image and Likeness deals. Saban claimed that the Aggies coaching staff was using money to recruit players and encourage them to sign with the university-- mainly because Texas A&M brought in the top recruiting class ahead of the 2022 season.
In retaliation, Fisher called a press conference to address the claims that Saban had made against him. Fisher certainly let all of his frustration loose on the storied coach, stating that Saban was a "narcissist" who should have been "slapped" as a child.
Both coaches certainly let loose, but who was truly in the wrong? The answer is both of them. Saban should have never poked the bear, to begin with. His comments about Fisher's recruiting tactics were unnecessary and unprovoked. Plus, Saban coaches for an Alabama team that has star players who are loaded with NIL deals...some of them likely had money rolling in before every playing a down in college. Saban picked a fight with Fisher, but has he honestly never used monetary compensation as a way to encourage athletes to play for the Crimson Tide over other schools?
On the other hand, Fisher let things get out of control quickly. It can be hard to control emotions-- especially when one is provoked for no apparent reason-- but as a professional, he shouldn't have gone as far as he did. Fisher was incredibly vocal in stating that Saban believes he is ahead of nearly everybody in the college football world.
"Some people think they're God," Fisher said. "Go dig into how God did his deal. You may find out ... 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's that's ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out, what he does and how he does it."
College football fans treat Saban as the greatest coach of all time -- to be fair, he does have an incredible resume. Still, it was unfair of Fisher to take shots at Saban's history. It's also important to note that during the entire press conference, he never once denied Saban's claims that he used finances to encourage players to join the Aggies. Instead, he focused his efforts on attacking one of his top SEC West opponents.
Both coaches should've handled the matter in a more professional manner. If Saban ever had an issue with Fisher's recruiting tactics, he should've chosen to reach out personally and discuss things in a professional manner. At the same time, Fisher hurt his reputation by handling the situation in a way that was unprofessional, to say the least.
In this day and age, NIL deals are becoming more and more common. It's no longer a surprise when college football stars rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in endorsements depending on which teams they play for. In the future, it will likely become even more of a recruiting tactic than it already is. It's something that both Saban and Fisher will have to accept-- but honestly, they may need to come to terms with the fact that they both do it to some extent.