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Jimbo presses pause on Nick Saban feud: 'We're done talking about it.'

Two weeks after suggesting someone should slap Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher passed on the opportunity over two days in Destin.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, Jimbo Fisher called a press conference and said somebody ought to slap Nick Saban. 

On Wednesday, after two days of opportunity, Fisher confirmed that wouldn't be him.

“We all had dialogue. We all had opinions. We all discussed things very professionally and in the right way,” Fisher said. “We spoke in the very beginning (about what I accused him of and what he accused us of). It’s over with. We’re done talking about it. We’re moving on to the future. We have a lot more pressing needs than our arguments.”

Speaking Tuesday, Saban had already moved on, saying he had "no problem with Jimbo" and denying he ever accused A&M of wrongdoing when he said they "bought every player on their team." 

That isn't to say Fisher and Saban are done competing against each other, of course. Quite the opposite. Their Oct. 8 game in Tuscaloosa will be the most-anticipated on the college football schedule -- CBS set aside that date for its only SEC prime time game -- and the competition continues evermore on the recruiting trail. Fisher has hinted that A&M's 2023 recruiting class could match the '22 class's No. 1 ranking. 

As the chairman of the SEC coaches' group, Fisher was flanked by eight SEC officials at the center of the biggest fly-on-the-wall meeting this side of King Arthur's court. 

Like each of his colleagues that spoke with the media in Destin, Fisher described collegial meetings where the 22 men inside debated the pressing issues of the day: the Transfer Portal, and the pros and cons of establishing windows; a conference or national NIL policy (or lackthereof); an 8- or 9-game conference schedule once Texas and Oklahoma join in the middle of this decade; the future of the College Football Playoff, and the SEC's place in it. When the group solved each of those issues, they moved to the war in Ukraine.

Fisher did emerge from the meeting rooms with one strong opinion, a drum he seemed to bang the loudest: whether the SEC moves to nine conference games or remains at eight, the conference should find a way to continue playing FCS teams in non-conference play.

While nothing is final as of it, the most likely path forward once the league expands to 16 teams will be a 9-game schedule with a 3/6 format. Each team will play three permanent rivals -- unlike a pod, where teams are split into fours and play round-robins against each other, each of the 16 teams would play a different set of three permanent rivals -- and six rotating opponents. That arrangement would allow all 16 teams to play the other 15 every other year, and to host all 15 schools at least once every four years.

If and when the conference expands its schedule from eight to nine, as a compromise the league is expected to end its requirement that each team face a Power 5 non-conference opponent: i.e., Vanderbilt will no longer have to play Wake Forest and Stanford. 

And if the chair of the SEC head coaches has his way, each school will be free to continue playing FCS schools among their three non-conference games.