Texas A&M AD Says Nick Saban's Comments Violate SEC Sportsmanship Rules

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 19, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 13: Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Head Coach Jimbo Fisher of the Texas A&M Aggies on the sidelines talking during of the College Football Playoff National Championship game with the LSU Tigers playing against the Clemson Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 13, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. LSU defeated Clemson 42 to 25. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Head football coach Jimbo Fisher isn't the only high-profile member of Texas A&M's athletic department who took issue with comments from Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Saban turned heads Wednesday when he told reporters: "A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn't buy one player. 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."

Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork told Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated he views the comments as a "personal attack" on the school and Fisher, and he reached out to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey about Saban potentially violating the SEC's sportsmanship bylaws.

"I don't know why Nick Saban would say what he said except he's threatened," Bjork said. "There is a saying … an emperor who loses their dynasty lashes out. He seems to be making excuses.

"This is personal. 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 well] is NIL money is wrong."

Bryan Fischer of Athlon Sports shared the bylaws Bjork referenced:     

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

What A&amp;M is referring to in those pesky SEC bylaws <a href="https://t.co/25ndAeysca">pic.twitter.com/25ndAeysca</a>

The athletic director's comments were frankly mild compared to Fisher's explosive press conference Thursday.

He told reporters Saban's suggestions were "despicable. We're taking shots at 17-year-old kids. We never bought anyone. When [Saban] doesn't get his way or things don't go his way. Go dig into [Saban's past]. It's despicable. It's personal to us. And I know the guy. Really well."

Fisher, who was an offensive coordinator on Saban's staff when the Alabama coach was at LSU, also called his former boss a "narcissist."

"Some people think they're God," Fisher said. "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 build him up to be this czar of football. Go dig into his past."      

Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

JIMBO FISHER OFFFF THE TOP ROPE <a href="https://t.co/yVN6HobqkQ">pic.twitter.com/yVN6HobqkQ</a>

Sankey issued public reprimands of both Saban and Fisher:

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

SEC statement from Greg Sankey: <a href="https://t.co/oZ3WAvzpEl">pic.twitter.com/oZ3WAvzpEl</a>

While Alabama is widely considered to be the gold standard for modern-day college football in large part because of the success Saban has enjoyed both on the field and the recruiting trail, the Aggies landed the No. 1 overall class of 2022, per 247Sports' composite rankings.

Texas A&M also handed the Crimson Tide their only loss last season until the College Football Playoff championship game against Georgia.

This isn't the first time Fisher has defended his program against such rumors after bringing in such an impressive recruiting class. He said the "insinuation" players only came to the Aggies because of money was "insulting" in February, noting "the things that people say are very irresponsible."       

Cover 3 Podcast @Cover3Podcast

Jimbo Fisher did not hold back reacting to Nick Saban’s comments today πŸ‘€<br><br>(<a href="https://twitter.com/CBSSportsHQ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBSSportsHQ</a>)<br><br> <a href="https://t.co/eF00t8HeRl">pic.twitter.com/eF00t8HeRl</a>

The NCAA may have at least looked into Texas A&M, as Dellenger reported Bjork said the organization requested information about the program's recruiting but never followed up after the initial ask.

One thing is certain. The Oct. 8 matchup between Alabama and Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa will be appointment viewing for all college football fans.