In less than two weeks, Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher will be forced to share space with one another.
After all, that’s when the Southeastern Conference conducts its annual spring meetings in Destin, Florida, and it’s typically a glad-handing affair where league’s coaches gather in basement-level meeting rooms to discuss the topics du jour in their sports and potential elements to combat those concerns, be it on-field issues or, yes, things such as Name, Image & Likeness policies.
It seems highly unlikely to involve any forced pleasantries between Alabama’s Saban and Texas A&M’s Fisher, who across the past 24 hours have waged an explosive – and highly public – war of words against one another.
In fact, Texas A&M Athletics Director Ross Bjork has charged Saban with violation of SEC bylaws.
“I don’t know why Nick Saban would say what he said, except he’s threatened,” Bjork told Sports Illustrated reporter Ross Dellenger. “There is a saying … an emperor who loses (his) dynasty lashes out.
“He seems to be making excuses.”
Bjork continued, calling Saban’s words a “personal” attack on the Aggies as a whole and individually on Fisher, a former Saban assistant coach who handed the Crimson Tide their only regular-season loss in 2021.
“This is personal,” Bjork said. “Coach Fisher views this as a personal attack on his integrity and on Texas A&M’s integrity. To have personal attacks, to say that the only reason A&M is (recruiting at the top level in the nation) is NIL money is wrong.”
Bjork, who emphasized to SI that his program and entire athletics department was fully compliant within the relatively loose framework of NIL, as well as Texas state law, also leveled charges of Saban breaching SEC bylaws.
“There are sportsmanship bylaws in the SEC,” Bjork said. “We believe Coach Saban violated those bylaws. Everyone knows NIL is here to stay. We’ve embraced it. We have all the tools and technology. We are educating our athletes and boosters. There is all kinds of awareness here.
“The part that is frustrating is to say NIL is the only reason kids are choosing our program. That is hypocritical, and I don’t know why we are the target.”