Jimbo Fisher on Thursday was quick to tamp down the ongoing conversation surrounding his summer feud with Nick Saban.
The Texas A&M coach was asked several questions about the spat over recruiting and NIL after stepping to the podium in Atlanta to close out SEC media days. Like Saban on Tuesday, Fisher said they put the matter behind them after the flash fire of late May.
“Listen, we’re great. Two competitive guys that go at it. We all learn from things we do in our business. Two competitive guys on a topic that is very — everywhere, as they say. There’s no rules in this thing, where it goes. Each state has different laws and everything.
“And like he said, I heard a statement he made, the arguments we had in the staff room and on the basketball court and all those things. But on the basketball court, we didn’t have them. We were always on the same team. So we usually had them against other people. I have great respect for Nick. Unfortunately, our thing went public. Sometimes that happens in this world. Nothing is private anymore, is it?”
It’s a much different tone from the hastily-called May 19 news conference in College Station, the morning after Saban’s comments in Birmingham.
“Some people think they’re God,” Fisher said in May. “Well go dig into how God did his deal.”
That wasn’t the message Thursday.
“Anyway. But, no, have great respect from Nick,” Fisher said Thursday. “We all learn from him. We all will learn, like I say, he will learn, hopefully I learn from things we do and say, and we move on from there. But I have great respect for him and their program like always.”
The whole issue began May 18 when Saban told a Birmingham banquet audience that Texas A&M “bought every player” in its top-ranked 2022 signing class. Fisher then went off on Saban the next morning, calling him a narcissist while making implications of past rule breaking.
Saban wasn’t asked about the matter in the main media room in Atlanta but it came up with the television reporters in a separate setting Tuesday.
“I have no issues or problems with Jimbo,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job at A&M. He did a great job for us. I always take criticisms or whatever in a positive way to self-assess me personally in terms of maybe there is something I can do better and so any comments that anybody makes, I always take it into consideration. But there is no issue or problems.”
Fisher on Thursday was asked if there would have been beef between him and Saban if not for the NIL rules.
“No, because the — listen, what he said and what I said, we moved on from it,” Fisher said. “But NIL, like I say, guys, there’s no rules. Each state has its own rules. I mean, it’s not just an NCAA thing or a national thing. Each state. For instance, in Texas, we cannot bring up NIL to a recruit. We can’t say it, we can’t promise. All we can say if guys on our team have it, that’s all we can say.
“Other states can present written contracts. They can send you a written contract to a guy. I’ve been going through that in a recruiting thing. It’s just the world we’re in. We are frustrated because there’s no unification of what happens and the way it happens. It’s a different day and time. Change is inevitable. That’s the rules we have to play by, so we all have to adapt and adjust. You either adapt and adjust or you don’t, one of the two.”
Texas A&M will visit Alabama on Oct. 8 a year after upsetting the Crimson Tide in College Station. That paired with the coaching dynamic will make this one of the most anticipated games in college football this fall. That’s not lost in the Alabama locker room.
“Couple of my teammates said something. But for me, I watched it,” All-American linebacker Will Anderson said. “I seen it. I don’t really get into all the social media stuff. I don’t tweet, any of that. When we play Texas A&M, everything will be addressed then.”
Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.