BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher called Nick Saban a “narcissist” Thursday after the Alabama coach made “despicable” comments about the Aggies using name, image and likeness deals to land their top-ranked recruiting classes.
Saban called out Texas A&M on Wednesday night for “buying” players.
“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said while speaking at an event in Birmingham, Alabama, to promote the World Games being held there in July.
“You read about it, you know who they are. 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. 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.”
Less than 24 hours later, Fisher called an impromptu news conference Thursday and did not hold back with his displeasure with his former boss when the two were at LSU.
“We're done," Fisher said, adding that Saban reached out by phone but he did not take the call.
He said Saban's comments were insulting to his players and the families of the players who signed with the Texas A&M.
Here is video of Nick Saban's comments about Texas A&M and Jackson State:
Here's Jimbo Fisher's reaction during his news conference:
“Some people think they're God,” Fisher said. “Go dig into how God did His deal. You may find out about a guy, a lot of things you don’t want to know. We build him up to be this czar of football. Go dig into his past or anybody who's ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out what he does and how he does it.”
Fisher said his players and his program broke no rules or laws.
"I don’t cheat. I don’t lie. If you did my old man slapped me across the face. Maybe someone should have slapped him (Saban),” Fisher said.
This is the second time this year Fisher has publicly defended his program after signing one the highest rated recruiting classes in the history of rankings.
In February, Fisher went off on competitors who were pushing rumors that Texas A&M had spent $30 million on NIL deals to land its star-studded recruiting class.
“Clown acts,” Fisher said then. “Multiple coaches in our league.”
What are NIL deals?
The NCAA lifted most of its rules barring athletes from earning money from sponsorship and endorsement deals last July, but there are concerns among many in college sports that NIL deals are being used to as recruiting inducements and de facto pay-for-play.
Last week, the NCAA issued guidance to Division I members to clarify its rules against boosters being involved in recruiting.
On Wednesday night, the 70-year-old Saban, who has won six national championships, was more targeted in his critique of the current state of college football.
“We have a rule right now that said you cannot use name, image and likeness to entice a player to come to your school. Hell, read about it in the paper,” Saban said. “Jackson State paid a guy a million dollars last year that was a really good Division I player to come to school. It was in the paper and they bragged about it. Nobody did anything about it.”
Jackson State and coach Deion Sanders landed one of the most highly rated recruits in the country in cornerback Travis Hunter, who had been committed to Florida State until a signing day flip in December.
Sanders has denied Jackson State made any impermissible offers to Hunter to get him to sign with the historically black college that competes in the second tier of Division I football.
“You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow," Sanders tweeted. "We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE,” Sanders tweeted.
Saban also referenced Miami donor John Ruiz, a billionaire who has funded NIL deals for numerous Hurricanes athletes.
“Those guys from Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000, that’s in the newspaper," Saban said. "The guy tells you how he’s doing it.”
But the Texas A&M comments were closest to home. The Aggies are a Southeastern Conference rival in the West Division and coached by former Saban assistant Jimbo Fisher.
The Aggies beat Alabama last season, but finished 8-4 while the Tide went on to win the SEC and play Georgia for the national championship.