‘We’re done’: Saban, Fisher in conflict over NIL allegations


Courtesy of USATSI

Austin Hannon | @austin_hannon1, Sports Editor

We are witnessing history in the sport of college football.

Not only with NIL, but with what’s coming along with it.

Some claim that it will “ruin the sport.” Well, now it’s ruining relationships as well.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban went on potentially his wildest rant yet at an event in Birmingham on Wednesday night. The event was to spread awareness of the 2022 World Games coming to Alabama in 50 days.

The conversation, as everything else in the state does, quickly transitioned to football.

When discussing name, image and likeness, Saban began to distinguish between fair and unfair.

While he said his players did it “the right way,” Saban was quick to judge other programs across the country, including Texas A&M.

“You read about it, you know who they are,” Saban said. “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.”

Saban went on to talk about Deion Sanders at Jackson State, who pulled in the top recruit in the country cornerback Travis Hunter Jr.

“Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school,” Saban said. “It was in the paper. They bragged about it! Nobody did anything about it.”

Sanders responded on Twitter, saying that Saban lied, and is due to respond soon.

Obviously, this entire monologue was seen by anyone and everyone who follows the sport. That includes Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, who held an impromptu press conference Thursday morning to quell the cheating claims.

Fisher said that nothing Saban said was true, and that the friendship between the mentor and mentee is over. After saying that Saban reached out to him, Fisher responded:

“He’s called. Not going to [take the call]. We’re done.”

Fisher then went on to talk about Saban’s legacy, and that he’s not the person people make him out to be.

“Some people think they’re God,” Fisher said. “Go dig into how God [Saban] 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 that’s ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out. What he does and how he does it — it’s despicable.”

Fisher said that he has never or will never be a cheater because of the way he was raised.

“You can call me anything you want to call me,” Fisher said. “You ain’t call me a cheat. I don’t cheat and I don’t lie. I learned that when I was a kid, if you did that, your old man slapped you ‘side the head. Maybe somebody should have slapped him [Nick Saban].”

Fisher continued to emphasize that there were skeletons in the closet of the Alabama football program.

“Just go ask all the people who have worked for him [Nick Saban]. They know exactly what he’s about. My dad always told me this, when people show you who they are — believe them. He’s showing you who he is.”

This confrontation is coming seven months after Fisher was the first former assistant to take down Saban in the Aggies’ 41-38 win in College Station, Texas.

After that game, Fisher had a much different outlook on the man he used to call his friend.

“Nick is one heck of a football coach,” Fisher said. “I’ve known Nick for years. He’s been a great friend. I’ve coached with him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

Fisher now no longer wants to be associated with Saban, the “narcissist,” who he will meet on the gridiron on October 8 in Tuscaloosa.

“It’ll be fun,” Fisher said. “I don’t mind confrontation. I kind of like it.”

It’s only May, but the emotions are already high in what should be another great season of college football beginning in August.

Mark your calendars for that fall afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium, folks. It was already going to be hotly contested with the result of last year’s game. But now? It should be something to behold.