Nick Saban-Jimbo Fisher bond is irreparably broken, and 6 other thoughts on their wild exchange| Goodbread
As of this penning, it has been 24 hours since Texas A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher aimed a flamethrower in the direction of his former boss, and even less since Alabama coach Nick Saban went on national radio and apologized for singling out three schools, including A&M, for recruiting athletes with name, image and likeness deals at a speaking event Wednesday night.
It feels like 24 minutes, which is about how long it took internet geniuses to generate a photoshopped meme, depicting the faces of Fisher and Saban superimposed on the infamous photo of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars two months ago.
Twitter will twitter.
DUCKWORTH RESIGNS:Dana Duckworth, Alabama gymnastics' championship-winning coach, steps down from program
SABAN'S 15:Celebrate Nick Saban's 15 epic seasons at Alabama football with our special book!
Pundits have fallen over themselves trying to encapsulate it all into a single tidy package. This pundit tried, but in surveying the aftermath, I've come to this: an honest view from both camps has to recognize a couple good points from the other. And that’s what makes the entire affair all but impossible to tie up in a neat bow. Yet still, there's so much to unpack.
Seven random thoughts about the Saban-Fisher exchange:
- The unfiltered honesty from both was incredibly refreshing, whether you agree or not with what was said. When football coaches get in front of a microphone, there's an inner voice in them all that says: "Whatever you say, be anything but controversial." On top of that inner voice, there's a code in the profession that when it comes to coaches commenting on one another, only a constant stream of plaudits is allowed. That even comes from the top, in some measure, as evidenced by the SEC reprimanding both coaches Thursday afternoon. It's rarely wavered from. Saban spoke from the heart, not a script, and Fisher even more so in speaking for 10 minutes fueled on absolute raw emotion. Consumers of the sport need to be told like it is once in awhile.
- The relationship between the two is dead — Fisher left no doubt about that — and that's a shame. Things were already frosty, which was evident from Fisher's remarks the last time this topic came up around signing day. But it's remarkable how soured relationships in coaching so often come from two coaches who've previously been part of the same team. Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer. Urban Meyer and Tom Herman. Bobby Knight and Steve Alford. There are exceptions. Steve Spurrier and Bobby Bowden weren't trading holiday cards in their day, and never coached together. But it makes sense — emotions run hotter with those we know.
- Fisher was right that the government will have to get involved with a federal NIL law if it's ever going to be reigned in as the new No. 1 factor in recruiting. Saban intimated the same thing in his remarks Wednesday night. And that's nothing to hold our breath over. Litigation, or the threat of it, will prevent the NCAA from policing NIL on its own. Meanwhile, politicians answer to voting bases, not coaches. Uncle Sam is not coming through that door.
- Bringing up A&M by name was a bad idea, which Saban acknowledged in apologizing. Bringing up Jackson State was a worse idea. Looping a once-in-a-generation recruiting score by an HBCU into a conversation that was more about two annual Power Five combatants with exponentially greater resources did more to hurt Saban's case than help it.
- Fisher made this vastly more personal than Saban did. And he obviously doesn't regret it. For whatever blame might lie with Saban for lighting this fire, he didn't mention Fisher by name once Wednesday night. Fisher brought a bazooka to a knife fight in labeling Saban personally as a despicable narcissist, and insinuating there are skeletons in his coaching closet. The emotion was great, but for a guy who took exception to Saban alleging something without proof, Fisher did the exact same thing in response.
- Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is every bit as good an agitator on Twitter as he is at coaching.
- If UA gymnastics coach Dana Duckworth wanted her resignation to make its way through the local news cycle quickly, she couldn't have picked a better day.
Reach Chase Goodbread @firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.