What CFB coaches think of Nick Saban vs Jimbo Fisher: ‘Those 2 just called each other’s wives fat’

Football fans’ jaws hit the floor on Thursday when Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher fired back at his old boss, Nick Saban, for saying, among other things, that A&M had “bought” its entire 2022 recruiting class.

Just as shocked were current and former SEC coaches.

“I’m speechless first time in my life,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin told The Athletic. “I kept saying,‘ This can’t really be happening. Is this real life? ‘ I still haven’t moved from my seat. Should’ve been on Pay-Per-View. ”

Fisher, who won a national championship at Florida State, is one of only two former Saban assistants who has defeated his mentor head to head. But A & M’s 41-38 stunning upset as 17 1/2-point underdogs last season was mild compared to watching two SEC heavyweights sling massive amounts of mud at each other and their programs.

“It’s despicable that a reputable head coach can come out and say this when he doesn’t get his way or things don’t go his way,” Fisher said. “The narcissist in him doesn’t allow this things to happen and it’s ridiculous when he’s not on top.”

“Some people think they’re God,” he added. “Go dig into how God did his deal, you may find out about a lot of things that you don’t want to know. We build him up to be the czar of college football. Go dig into his past. ”

One former SEC coach who spent time around Saban and Fisher when they coached together at LSU in the early 2000s said Fisher telling the world to look into Saban’s past with “that eye roll was something I would have never expected in a billion years. It was oddly satisfying as someone who lived on that planet with them and also incredibly sad that those two have come to that.

“There has always been an ‘honor amongst thieves’ mantra in the SEC, and those two just called each other’s wives fat to a global audience. ”

Another long-time former coach who spent two decades in the SEC said the rule-breaking in the conference has been the worst-kept secret in football, ranging from extra coaches to working around the NCAA’s 20-hour-a-week rule to having practice almost year-around. But this back-and-forth between Saban and Fisher aired a lot of dirty laundry that caught the ears of their peers who have rolled their eyes at shady recruiting business.

“One of the biggest fallacies is these kids going on unofficial visits all over the country,” said a long-time former SEC head coach. “These programs have a cash fund they pay for players and parents and coaches flying all over country and staying in these hotels and eating these meals. It’s unreal.

“If you ain’t doing 85 (miles per hour) in a 55, you are going to get your ass beat in today’s world.”

The coach said it used to be an unwritten rule in the conference not to throw around these kinds of allegations. But that changed Wednesday night with Saban’s comments at an event. “I guess Nick’s pissed he lost to Jimbo,” said the coach.

Another former SEC head coach The Athletic spoke to Thursday afternoon didn’t see the video of Fisher’s comments but got wind of it from his old coaching buddies. “It blew my mind when I started reading it,” the coach said. “Ho-lee cow. This got ugly. Ho-lee cow. He came after Saban, boy. Knowing Saban, I think the combination of getting beat and he’s not No. 1 in recruiting and he sees the way it’s going – this is the ultimate competitor, gets his feelings hurt when he’s not No. 1. I have got to go see this (Fisher video) and pull this thing up.

“Ego has gotten in the way, buddy. It’s the wild, wild West now, and I don’t see it slowing down, either. You got Texas, Oklahoma, you got A&M, and you got LSU and all these schools that wanna win yesterday and they don’t wanna be second or third – something’s gotta give, and you’ve opened up rules where, ‘Hey, there’s a license to go out there and buy whatever you need and then add the transfer portal. ‘ Ew. My phone has been blowing up: ‘Have you seen it, Have ya’ seen it ?! ‘ And I hadn’t seen it yet. It is a different world now. The first take of it is when you think of Saban taking that first shot, it’s like the guy on the top of the mountain and he’s always been on top of the mountain and he gets his feelings hurt and then he starts blasting people. I know Jimbo Fisher, too. It really is (spicy). Jimbo’s saying he’s got to defend his players. Aw, shit. I ain’t buying that at all. ”

Later Thursday afternoon, Saban appeared on XM College radio and apologized for his comments on Wednesday, when he took shots at Fisher and Jackson State coach Deion Sanders. “I should have never singled anyone out,” Saban said. “That was a mistake.”

Saban’s motivation has been an interesting subplot to all this. Was it simply related to having lost to A&M on the field and in recruiting, or was there more to it than that?

Another coach who has worked with Saban at Alabama said he didn’t think that Saban’s rant Wednesday was calculated but driven by his emotions of the spiraling issues of NIL blurring into pay-for-play and recruiting inducements connected to aggressive collectives. “And,” the coach said, “it’s something he can’t control.”

A Power 5 head coach observed that Saban is often very calculated with his public comments. “That didn’t just slip out,” the coach told The Athletic. “There’s been a lot of talk about how the NCAA is gonna try and make an example of somebody. Maybe that’s trying to get (A&M) in their sights’ cause after those comments, how do they not investigate this now? Boosters still can’t be involved in recruiting; you can’t have pay-for-play and recruiting and inducements to get the kid to come to your school. Those rules haven’t changed. ”

One thing all of the coaches seemed to agree on was this: “Looking at the from the sidelines,” one coach said, “it does make for good entertainment.”

(Top photo: Marvin Gentry / USA Today)

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