Prior to the 2021 college football season Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was 23-0 against former assistants. That perfect record came to a screeching halt on an October night in College Station, Texas, as the Texas A&M Aggies, led by Jimbo Fisher, upset the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide 41-38.
That game was a shocker to most, as the Aggies beat the Tide with a third-string quarterback. The victory was significant but short-lived, as Saban ended up winning the SEC championship and playing for a national title. TAM finished its season a disappointing 8-4.
Fisher wasn’t done beating his former boss though. During the recruiting wars he landed the highest-rated recruiting class in the computer-generated rankings, securing a record eight five-star athletes.
While Saban and the Tide finished a close second, things didn’t sit right with him about how TAM landed their record class. It was clear that Fisher was closing the gap on his former boss and friend. You could say Saban panicked. Usually calculated and cool as a cucumber when addressing the press, Saban, whom some call the master of student-athlete exploitation, became a whistleblower this week.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) May 19, 2022
FS1 personality and Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe gave his take on the situation.
“For the first time, one of his lieutenants beat him. Kirby Smart did it again in the national championship game. You are really trying to blow up your lieutenant’s spot because he finally beat you in a recruiting battle? So you’re willing to try and blow up everything. Have everybody look into everybody’s past. Everybody will have to put asterisks on everybody’s stuff.”
Saban Accused Fisher Of Buying Recruiting Class: Fisher Responded Quickly
In a recent interview, Saban claimed — that the Aggies were unscrupulous in the way they landed the top recruiting class ever. The seven-time national championship winning coach didn’t hold back on his accusations.
“I mean we were second in recruiting last year. Texas (A&M) was first. A&M bought every player on their team — made a deal for name, image, likeness. We didn’t buy one player, all right? 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.”
Fisher and Saban traded somewhat friendly barbs last offseason, with Jimbo guaranteeing a win over his former boss, and Saban joking “maybe in golf.”
But this time Fisher didn’t hold back in his response, he actually says he’s not messing with Saban anymore on any level.
“We never bought anybody. No rules are broken. Nothing was done wrong. It’s a shame that you have to sit here and defend 17-year-old kids and families and Texas A&M. Because we do things right. We’re always doing things right. We’re always going to be here. We’re doing a heck of a job.”
Jimbo wasn’t done …
"Some people think they’re God … We build him up to be the czar of football. Go dig into his past, or anyone who’s ever coached with him, you can find out anything you wanna find out."
Jimbo Fisher didn't hold back after Nick Saban's comments about A&M's recruiting practices. pic.twitter.com/FVNaGD6uBX
— ESPN (@espn) May 19, 2022
The Disdain Stems From Time Together At LSU
Although their time together at LSU was successful, winning a national championship, the two headstrong coaches allegedly didn’t get along.
A former staffer told The Athletic the following.
“There was friction all the time. [Georgia co-defensive coordinator] Will Muschamp, and [Georgia head coach] Kirby Smart all the defensive guys bowed down to Nick, but Nick depended on Jimbo a lot. But Nick is hard on his [offensive coordinators]. They were always at each other’s throats.”
Saban’s short fuse with his offensive play callers has previously played out on national television. Jim McElwain, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, Mike Locksley and Brian Daboll have all been on the receiving end of one of Saban’s infamous tongue lashings. Current offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has avoided that on national television as he chooses to call plays from the booth.
The vitriol being spewed will hopefully still be red hot when the Aggies visit Tuscaloosa on Oct/ 8. This one just got a whole lot more interesting.