Nick Saban Tees Off on NIL and Texas A&M, Jimbo Fisher Responds with Fire

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    Alabama football head coach Nick Saban has the whole college football world discussing him, Texas A&M, and N.I.L. (name, image, and likeness) on Thursday morning.

    While speaking at The World Games 2022 event on Wednesday, Saban gave an unfiltered explanation regarding his frustrations with the current landscape of college football. Specifically, Saban called out Texas A&M in a direct and instigative way.

    “We were second in recruiting last year, [Texas] A&M was first,” Saban said in a video posted to Twitter by Alabama.com Sports. “A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image, and likeness. We didn’t buy one player. But I don’t know if we are going to be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it.”

    The reason that more and more teams are starting to use name, image, and likeness while recruiting is because it is the reality of the new era of college athletics. The other reality is that there are coaches across all sports who have more of an old-school mentality, and just don’t want to play with the rule changes in the new era. Saban clearly is not a proponent of the recruiting games that revolve around a player making money.

    “We have a rule right now that says that you cannot use name, image, and likeness to entice a player to come to your school,” Saban said. “Hell, read about it in the paper. I mean, Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars that was a really good Divison I player to come to a school that was in the paper and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it. I mean these guys that are at Miami that are going to play basketball there for 400,000 dollars, it’s in the newspaper. The guy tells you how he is doing it. But the NCAA can’t enforce their rules because it is against the law.”

    See Also From RTI: Tennessee Commit Julian Phillips Turned Away Near Million-Dollar Contract

    In the case of the state of Tennessee, Saban is exactly correct when he says that the NCAA can’t enforce its own rules due to the state legislature. On April 25, Tennessee State Legislation passed a state law that permits Universities and NIL collectives to collaborate and allows them to make presentations on campus. Ultimately, that gives the University of Tennessee a leg up compared to states without that luxury. It also is clearly causing mass frustration amongst some college football coaches.

    Nick Saban believes that the more old school, more traditional way of recruiting is still what is best for business.

    “It’s not supposed to be something where people come and make money,” Nick Saban said. “And you make a decision about a school based on how much money you’re going to make. You should make a decision based on where you have the best as a person, as a student, and as a player.”

    The contradiction in Saban’s statement there is that for some student-athletes, in order to make the best decision for them as a person, the financial aspect potentially plays an overwhelming factor in that decision. Financial security seems like, in some cases for certain, it would absolutely be wrapped up in the doing what’s best for the individual part of Saban’s thought process.

    The full video from Saban, via Alabama.com sports, can be found here.

    After Saban’s remarks on Wednesday night, Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher called a press conference for Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m. ET.

    Fisher said that Saban has tried to reach out to him since making his comments, but Fisher said he has no interest in picking up the phone from Alabama’s head coach and his former friend.

    “We’re done,” Fisher said about his relationship with Nick Saban.

    “Seventeen-year-old kids,” Fisher said. “You’re taking shots at seventeen-year-old kids and their families. That they broke state laws? That we bought every player on this group? We never bought anybody. No rules were broken. Nothing was done wrong.”

    Fisher took a number of shots at Saban during his press conference on Thursday, using the word “despicable” multiple times to talk about the “czar” of college football.

    “The way we do things, the ethics in which we do things, and these families, 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 regarding Saban. “The narcissist in him doesn’t allow those things to happen. And it’s ridiculous, when he’s not on top, the parity in college football we’ve been talking about, go talk to coaches who have coached for him. You’ll find out all the parity. Go dig into wherever he’s been. You can find out anything.”

    “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,” Fisher said. “We’re always going to do things right. We’re always going to be here. We’re doing a heck of a job. These coaches have done a great job, our players have done a great job, the whole organization in recruiting people. It’s despicable that we have to sit here at this level of ball and say these things to defend the people of this organization. The kids. Seventeen-year-old kids and their families. It’s amazing. Some people think they are God. Go dig into how God did his deal, and you might find out a lot of things that you don’t want to know. We’ve built him up to be the czar of football, go dig into his past. Or anyone that has ever coached with him. You can find out anything that you want to find out. What he does and how he does it. It’s despicable. It really is. And it’s a shame that we have to sit up here and have this conversation.”

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.