Nick Saban didn’t hold back during a speaking appearance on Wednesday night.
At an event promoting the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, Saban took shots at several schools including Texas A&M, according to al.com’s Mike Rodak.
Specific to A&M, Saban accused Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies – the only team to top Alabama in the composite rankings for the recruiting class of 2022 – of paying for players.
“I know the consequence is going to be difficult for the people who are spending tons of money to get players,” Saban said, according to Rodak. “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. Aight? 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 responded to Saban’s comments at a fiery press conference on Thursday morning, describing Saban’s comments as “despicable,” calling Saban a “narcissist” and telling reporters they should look into Saban’s past.
“No rules were broken. Nothing was done wrong,” Fisher said. “There were no violations.
“Some people think they’re God. 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’ve built him up to be this czar of football.
“Go dig into his past or anybody that’s ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out. What he does and how he does it. And it’s despicable, it really is.”
Saban also accused Jackson State of paying Travis Hunter, the No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2022, and referenced the NIL deal that led former Kansas State basketball player Nijel Pack – who was also recruited by Ohio State – to commit to Miami.
More from Saban tonight: These guys from Miami that are going to play basketball there for $400,000. Thats in the newspaper! The guy tells you how hes doing it! But the NCAA cant enforce their rules because its not against the law, and thats an issue, thats a problem." https://t.co/9uOzSOFpK1— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 19, 2022
Deion Sanders and Hunter both responded to Saban’s accusation on Thursday morning.
You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow. I was & awakened by my son @ShedeurSanders that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED @TravisHunterJr a Million to play at @GoJSUTigersFB ! We as a PEOPLE dont have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) May 19, 2022
I got A mil?But my mom still stay in a 3 bed room house with five kids— Travis Hunter (@TravisHunterJr) May 19, 2022
Both Fisher and Sanders said they declined to answer calls from Saban on Thursday, though Sanders said he would be interested in speaking with Saban in a public forum.
“I haven’t talked to Coach Saban. I’m sure he’s tried to call. We need to talk publicly — not privately. What you said was public. That doesn’t require a conversation. Let’s talk publicly and let everybody hear the conversation,” Sanders told Andscape’s Jean-Jacques Taylor.
“You can’t do that publicly and call privately. No, no, no. I still love him. I admire him. I respect him. He’s the magna cum laude of college football and that’s what it’s going to be because he’s earned that.
“But he took a left when he should’ve stayed right. I’m sure he’ll get back on course. I ain’t tripping.”
Saban’s comments quickly garnered reactions across social media, with even Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin chiming in.
Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline also tweeted what appeared to be a reference to the controversy on Thursday.
You can hear more of what Saban had to say in the video at the top of the page, courtesy of al.com.