Jimbo Fisher delivered a fiery rebuttal to Alabama coach Nick Saban's comments from Wednesday night that Texas A&M "bought every player" in its vaunted 2022 recruiting class, calling Saban's comments "despicable" numerous times in a quickly assembled 9½-minute news conference.
Fisher, who was visibly angry, said there was no truth to Saban's accusations.
"We never bought anybody," the Texas A&M coach said. "No rules are broken. Nothing was done wrong. It's a shame that you've got to sit here and defend 17-year-old kids and families and Texas A&M. Because we do things right. We're always going to do things right. We're always going to be here. We're doing a heck of a job."
Fisher seethed, obviously taking Saban's comments personally. And while he didn't name Saban, Fisher's response was similarly personal.
"It's despicable that a reputable head coach can come out and say this when he doesn't get his way," Fisher said. "The narcissist in him doesn't allow those things to happen. It's ridiculous when he's not on top."
Texas A&M signed five five-star prospects in the 2022 ESPN300, with 20 of them ranked in the top 150. The class is widely considered the top-rated group in the modern era of recruiting rankings. Fisher, who served as Saban's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at LSU from 2000 to 2004, cast accusations of his own against Saban.
"Some people think they're God," Fisher said. "Go dig into how God did his deal. You may find out ... a lot of things you don't want to know. We build him up to be the czar of football. Go dig into his past, or anybody's that's ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out, what he does and how he does it. It's despicable."
He said Saban had called him, but he hasn't answered.
"Not going to. We're done," said Fisher, comparing his time with Saban and his time as an assistant at Florida State under Bobby Bowden, before taking over as the Seminoles' head coach. "He's the greatest ever, huh? When you've got all the advantages, it's easy. ... You coach with people like Bobby Bowden and learn how to do things. You coach with other people and learn how not to do things. There's a reason, people, I ain't back and worked for [Saban]. Don't want to be associated with him.
"You can call me anything you want to call me. You can't call me a cheat. I don't cheat and I don't lie. I learned that when I was a kid. If you did, your old man slapped you upside the head. Maybe somebody should have slapped him."
Saban said Wednesday night that Alabama players made $3 million "doing it the right way" last year and that only 25 players were able to leverage NIL opportunities.
"I mean, we were second in recruiting last year," Saban told a group of local business leaders. "A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team -- made a deal for name, image, likeness. We didn't buy one player, all right? 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's response: "What's funny, in that talk, right before he said that about us? Wasn't he soliciting funds from the crowd?" he said. "It's amazing, isn't it? When you walk on water, I guess it don't matter."
Fisher was asked if it will be awkward seeing Saban next week in Destin, Florida, at SEC spring meetings or playing Alabama on Oct. 8 in Tuscaloosa.
"Awkward about what?" Fisher said. "I don't mind confrontation. Lived with it my whole life. Kind of like it myself. Backing away from it wasn't the way I was raised."
Thursday's news conference was reminiscent of Fisher's defense on signing day in February where Fisher went after an anonymous message board poster who used the handle "Sliced Bread" for claims that the Aggies had $30 million at their disposal in name, image and likeness funds, calling it a "joke."
Fisher said the claim was amplified by the media, a Notre Dame administrator and fellow SEC coaches for spreading rumors about deals promised to recruits, saying it was "insulting" and "irresponsible." Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said, "I joked the other day, 'Are they going to implement a luxury tax on Texas and Texas A&M?' I mean what they are paying the players is unbelievable, but it's legal."
On Thursday, Fisher lamented the need to continually defend his class: "It's disgusting what we're into right now," he said. "Especially by the people were throwing the darts who have no glass in their house. It's despicable for what it does for the sport."
Fisher hinted that Saban's comments this offseason about his hopes parity can return to college football were hypocritical based on the way he ran his own program with a huge staff of off-field analysts.
"The operations, the way things were done the other way when the 'parity' was there?" Fisher asked "Never had been parity. Certain people never follow the rules anyway."
Obviously there's going to be a lot of chatter between now and Oct. 8, when Fisher and Saban meet.
"You know exactly what he's about. My dad always told me this: When people show you who they are, believe them. He's showing you who he is."
Saban also called our Deon Sanders for offering buying a player as well, which Sanders is denying.
The college football playoff expansion has been pushed back to at least the end of the 2025 season. Multiple sources confirmed the vote was 8-3, with the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC voting against expansion. B10 and P12 are both trying to keep the Rose Bowl happy, they also want automatic bids. I think a lot of this is issues of the B10, P12 and ACC all concerned that the SEC was forcing the expansion because of the timing of the Texas/OU switch and the release of the expansion concept before it was voted on.
I see a lot of misplaced focus here by the three conferences. The SEC took half of the seeds last year and the Michigan and Cincy didn't put up much of a fight in the path of the SEC Championship Game rematch. And the thing is, they were both really good teams. They just got the shit kicked out of them by great teams.
Because there is nothing else to talk about, here are some possible Winners and losers from the announcement:
SEC: The SEC didn't really care about a 12-team playoff. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was part of the committee that produced the 12-team format proposal, but Sankey always said his motivation was what’s best for the sport, not the SEC’s personal stake.
And Sankey was point. The SEC figures to thrive whether it be four or 12 teams. The SEC is coming off a season in which it produced two of the four playoff teams, and both Georgia and Alabama advanced to the championship game. That exact scenario also happened in 2017.
In a 12-team format, the SEC likely would get at least three teams in the field most years and sometimes might get four or five.
But in a four-team format, the SEC is virtually guaranteed one team and, as Bama and Georgia have proven, often could have two. Fifty percent of the playoff field only strengthens SEC bragging rights, something that won't happen in the expanded playoff field.
ACC: The ACC doesn’t have much clout in college football, especially when compared to the SEC.
But any change to the current playoff contract required unanimous support. Which means the ACC had a filibuster that could prevent change before 2026.
If Clemson returns to its consistently powerful self, the Tigers will have a good shot at a playoff berth. If Clemson struggles like it did in 2021 (especially with a leadership void caused by the departure of defensive coordinator Brent Venables, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and athletics director Dan Radakovich), the Tigers might not be contenders for even a 12-team playoff.
The ACC’s power is sort of hollow as it is only useful until 2026, maybe they are hoping to have a contender by then?
Rose Bowl: The four-team format maintains the status quo, which is fine with Pasadena. A Big Ten/Pac-12 showdown on New Year’s Day is what the Rose Bowl wants, while keeping some status within the playoff. The Rose Bowl has always been about the Rose Bowl, and not about college football.
Big TenThe Big Ten, mainly Ohio State, has been a playoff constant. The Big Ten was omitted from the playoff in 2017 and 2018, but most years, it can count on a team.
The 12-team format would add more Big Ten teams most years, but the Big Ten’s status means it will stand taller than all the other non-SEC leagues scrambling for a limited playoff berth and will likely give a recruiting bump if it can field multiple teams to an expanded playoff.
The only two angles I can see are the Rose Bowl and the F the SEC for why the B10 suddenly is hard against it.
ESPN: The current network for the playoff has drawn the ire of the other conferences for its role in SEC expansion and the 12-team proposal.
ESPN would have had contractual rights to any format change through 2025 and still will have an exclusive negotiating window, starting in October 2024, for a new format.
But in two years, perhaps the angst over ESPN’s involvement in the sport will have lessened, and ESPN could have a better shot at securing exclusive rights to an expanded playoff.
I could see ESPN sharing some games with other networks, but there isn't another network that is going to go all in to the same extent as ESPN to get the games.
Mid-majors: The 12-team format was about money, yes, with 11 games to sell to the networks instead of just three. But the 12-team format also was about opportunity.
Cincinnati finally cracked the code in 2021 – go undefeated, with a high-level non-conference victory. The Bearcats won at Notre Dame in September, then navigated the American Conference schedule. Cincinnati lost to Alabama 27-6 in the national semifinal Cotton Bowl.
But mid-majors rarely can schedule an opponent like Notre Dame, much less win, so their playoff chances for the next four seasons remain miniscule. Especially when Cincy moves to the B12.
Most bowl games: The six major bowls host a semifinal once every three years. Which means two of every three years, they host a game that is comparatively meaningless.
The one downside to any playoff format is how it cripples the traditional college football postseason. Even major bowls suffer in declining ticket sales and television viewership, under the shadow of the playoff.
In a 12-team format, every major bowl could host a playoff game every year.
Big 12 leftovers: The departure of OU and Texas to the SEC was softened by the news of a possible expanded playoff. Making a four-team playoff is difficult for teams without huge brands.
But a 12-team playoff had plenty of room for an OSU or Baylor or Kansas State. Now, the Big 12 will have to wait until at least 2026 to reap such bounty.
Lincoln Riley (Possibly): Riley’s rebuild at Southern Cal won’t be as easy with only four playoff spots available. Same goes for all the Pac-12. The Pac-12 has made the playoff only twice in eight seasons (Oregon 2014, Washington 2016). He's got an amazing recruiting base out there, it will be able getting the national exposure on a consistent basis and scheduling the teams out of conference to get attention.
After first standing with the ACC and the Big Ten in expressing reservations about certain aspects of a 12-team format, the Pac-12 in recent months has been proactive in saying it would support any form of playoff expansion.
The Fans: In the end, the biggest losers are college football fans. A few more weeks of good college football is thrown in the shitter so we can watch a pair of 6-6 teams duke it out in the Lick My Taint Bowl. Super excited for that.
According to CBS Sports, the Big Ten is considering eliminating its divisions for football, and play more like the Big XII. They would play 8 conference games, rotating (I am assuming certain rivalries would be protected and played every year), and then whoever the top two teams are, would play in the Big Ten title game. The general idea is that by taking the top two teams, period, should the CFP expand, it would increase the chances of more than one B1G team being chosen, and by dropping the number of conference games from 9 down to 8, allow the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC to schedule more games against each other non-conference. If you recall, a while ago, they formed sort of a pact with each other.
Personally? I think this is a terrible idea. First, even with only 3 non-conference games in a 12 game schedule, you can still schedule a team from the ACC or Pac-12. Michigan's opening game this season was against the Washington Huskies.
Secondly, until the teams currently in the West simply get better, you know what is probably going to happen? The B1G title game will almost alway be a rematch between the Ohio State/Michigan/Penn State/Michigan State (pick 2) game earlier that year...You know why the West division has NEVER won the B1G title game? Because they just aren't as good. That's not Ohio State's fault, not Michigan's, not Penn State's, not Michigan State's. The solution to the total imbalance is simply for the teams in the West to just...play better football.
The Georgia Bulldogs have finally ascended. They have been SOO CLOSE to the National Championship for years, only to be edged out by SEC rival Alabama, time and time again...last night, in a game that was a LOT closer than the final score, they finally overcame their humps, and defeated the Crimson Tide in the National Title Game.
I'd say congrats to the Bulldogs, but fuck them, they whipped Michigan, and I am still annoyed by that. However, it is nice to have National Champions in college football NOT named Alabama every once in a while...
The final poll of the year (top 10 only):
6. Ohio State
7. Oklahoma State
8. Notre Dame
9. Michigan State
Cornerback Travis Hunter, the No. 2-ranked recruit in the country, flipped his commitment from Florida State to Jackson State on Wednesday to become the first five-star high school football prospect to sign with an FCS team since ESPN started its rankings in 2006.
Jackson State coach Deion Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back, teased before the start of the early signing period that he was going to pull off something historic, and now Sanders has pulled away a five-star defensive back from his alma mater.
Hunter, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound prospect from Collins High School in Suwanee, Georgia, had been committed to Florida State since March 2020.
"Florida State has always been a beacon for me," Hunter said in his Twitter post Wednesday. "I grew up down there, that's where my roots are, and I never doubted that I would play for the Seminoles.
"It's a dream that is hard to let go of, but sometimes we are called to step into a bigger future than the one we imagined for ourselves. For me, that future is at Jackson State University."
At his signing ceremony, Hunter had three baseball caps on the table in front of him as he prepared to make his announcement: Florida State, Auburn and Georgia.
He tossed them off the stage one-by-one and unzipped his sweatshirt to reveal a T-shirt that read Believe. He then caught a Jackson State cap -- with a dark blue J on a white background -- that was tossed to him from the crowd and put that on.
A longtime member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Jackson State won its first SWAC title since 2007 last month.
Hunter had taken visits to Georgia during his recruiting process, sparking reports that he might flip to the Bulldogs. Hunter shot those rumors down, saying on social media that he was a Seminole and was not decommitting in October.
"Historically Black Colleges and Universities have a rich history in football," Hunter said in his post. "I want to be part of that history, and more, I want to be part of that future. I am making this decision so that I can light the way for others to follow, make it a little easier for the next player to recognize that HBCUs may be everything you want and more."
Sanders signed his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who was an ESPN 300 recruit in the 2021 class, along with ESPN 300 prospects Katron Evans, Quaydarius Davis and Trevonte Rucker.
At the time, Shedeur Sanders was the highest-ranked commit Jackson State had signed, but Hunter now takes that spot.
- This is a huge win for Deion, showing that he can bring in top tier talent.
- Huge loss for FSU. They also lost their Offensive Coordinator to Oregon the same day as well.
- This is an enormous risk for Hunter. While it is a huge opportunity to be coached by Sanders for a defensive back, very few players from HBCUs make it into the pros from there. There are currently 18 players in the NFL from HBCUs while there are 35 from FSU alone.
- I won't be shocked to see Hunter move to one of the larger schools if he performs really well in his first year or two as he has thrown away a lot of name/image/likeness money away with the switch.
Heisman Memorial Trophy
Bryce Young, Alabama
Player of the Year
Bryce Young, Alabama
Walter Camp Award
Player of the Year
Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Home Depot Award
Coach of the Year
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
Jim Thorpe Award
Best Defensive Back
Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
Davey O'Brien Award
Bryce Young, Alabama
Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Lou Groza Award
Jake Moody, Michigan
Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Doak Walker Award
Best Running Back
Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Best Wide Receiver
Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh
John Mackey Award
Best Tight End
Trey McBride, Colorado State
Beset Interior Lineman
Jordan Davis, Georgia
Ray Guy Award
Matt Araiza, San Diego State
Defensive Player of the Year
Jordan Davis, Georgia
Bronko Nagurski Trophy
Defensive Player of the Year
Will Anderson, Alabama
Top Former Walk-On
Grant Morgan, Arkansas
Disney Spirit Award
Tre Tipton, Pittsburgh
William V. Campbell Trophy
Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
Isaiah Sanders, Stanford
Best Assistant Coach
Josh Gattis, Michigan
I'm fine with most of the awards. I don't think Bryce Young was even the best player on his team as I think George Young was the best player in college football but the Heisman has turned into a quarterback award with the exception a WR or RB in random years.
Bowl Schedule. As teams get finalized, I’ll edit the post.
Heisman Finalists. Here is my guess at who we’ll see for the ceremony.
Our Final Four Will Be!
1. Alabama: Alabama’s offensive kryptonite seems to be loud road games, something that they won’t see for the rest of their season no matter who they play. This team is susceptible to power running games so if you want to beat the Tide, you need to be able to control the clock and minimize mistakes.
2. Michigan: Underappreciated throughout the year, only becoming the Belle of the B10 Ball so they haven’t had to live with the pressure. Expect that despite them being the number two for them to be a touchdown underdog. I’m not sure Georgia is the best team that I want to play with a meh QB but it is who they draw.
3. Georgia: They are going to be beyond pissed and looking to earn a second crack at Bama. Michigan’s dynamic pass rush might even be better than Alabama’s so they may have some trouble if they fall behind again but their front seven speed is likely to be something that Michigan hasn’t seen this year.
4. Cincinnati: Another easy win. It will be interesting to see how good the Bearcats really are as it has been awhile since they faced a decent team and that was an unimpressive Notre Dame. They will likely get their shot against Alabama to prove that they belong against the big kids as they get ready to transition to the B12.
- Rematches, rematches, rematches! Just two weeks after getting annihilated by Utah, Oregon finds itself in a rematch against the Utes for the PAC-12 title....and what is on the line for Oregon? A Duck win would very likely set up another rematch in the Rose Bowl...Oregon vs. Ohio State...I know most of us tend to ignore the PAC-12, but I find the idea that a rematch game could lead to another rematch game kind of interesting...
- Well, what do you know...It's Alabama and Georgia, AGAIN. Depending on who wins, we could see two SEC teams in the CFP, AGAIN...It's okay if you are feeling a little bit of deja vu here...
- Why is Cincinnati's hold on the #4 spot in the CFP tenuous? Because Oklahoma State is breathing right down their neck, and finish out their season against a much better opponent. Baylor is #9, while Cincinnati's opponent, Houston, is only ranked #21. While Oklahoma State is 11-1, with another win over Baylor, Oklahoma State would easily win any strength of schedule debate with Cincy. If Cincinnati doesn't absolutely blow out Houston, Oklahoma State could jump them with a strong game against Baylor. Remember, when it comes to Conference Championship weekend, the entire country is watching...you absolutely want to give the CFP selection committee a strong statement game to consider...and Oklahoma State/Baylor, #5 vs #9, is a much stronger statement game than #4 vs. #21 is.
- Who cares? There is literally nothing on the line.
- This is an important statement game for the Wolverines. All they have been hearing for years from Buckeye and Spartan fans is how "Harbaugh can't beat Ohio State! Harbaugh has never been to the Big Ten Championship game! Harbaugh can't take Michigan to the CFP!"...they beat Ohio State. With a win over Iowa, the Michigan Wolverines will be Big Ten Champions, and will be one of the 4 teams playing for the National Championship in January.
So, who will be in the college football playoff?
#1 Georgia. As long as they aren't blown out, It doesn't really matter if Alabama beats them in the SEC title game. This is a #1 vs. #3, the lowest Georgia would fall in a loss would be #4, but realistically, if Alabama beats them, they simply swap rankings, with Alabama taking over #1, and Georgia dropping to #3. Either way, the Georgia Bulldogs are going to be one of the four teams playing in the College Football Playoffs.
WIN, AND YOU ARE IN
#2 Michigan, #3 Alabama. Obvious. A 12-1 Big Ten Champ and a 12-1 SEC Champ are in, there are no serious arguments to be made to exclude either team if they win this weekend.
#4 Cincinnati/#5 Oklahoma State. I lump these two teams together, because I believe the distance between the #4 Bearcats and #5 Cowboys is a lot closer than people think. Cincinnati is undefeated, playing a weak schedule. Oklahoma State has the potential to make a much bigger statement, based on who each team's opponent is. I've made no bones about the fact that I believe Cincinnati is a pretender, not a contender, and this weekend is one of the reasons why. #9 Baylor >>> #21 Houston as a Conference title game opponent. I am not convinced that a 13-0 Cincinnati team gets the nod over a 12-1 Oklahoma State team that played much stronger competition. It's going to depend on how each team does in their respective title games. If Cincy whips Houston, okay, fair enough. But if Cincinnati struggles, and OSU wins convincingly, I can see the committee taking OSU over them. Cincinnati fans should really root for Michigan, Alabama or Oklahoma State to lose to solidify their spot. They only need one of them to be eliminated from contention.
#6 Notre Dame. As much as we want to ignore the Irish, fact is, we can't quite eliminate them from CFP contention just yet. They need a lot of help, but, Notre Dame could still find themselves with an argument for inclusion into the CFP if Michigan/Alabama/Cincinnati/Oklahoma State (pick 2) lose. If two of those four teams stumble this weekend, the Irish could find themselves in the top 4 afterall..
- Everyone else. I don't see a pathway for any other teams after #6 Notre Dame to make it, regardless of who wins and loses.
This is NCAA Football talk.