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Alabama’s Nick Saban has apologized for singling out Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher and Jackson State coach Deion Sanders for remarks about schools paying rookies to play football.
Saban told ESPN on Thursday that he didn’t mean schools were cheating, but that he didn’t like schools using name, image and likeness (NIL) agreements to essentially buy players. He said that using rosters and things like that was not good for college football.
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“Look, I never should have pointed fingers at anyone, and I wasn’t saying that either of these schools did anything wrong,” Saban said. “I didn’t mean they were buying players, but more than you can buy players now, and that’s totally legal. You just use name, image and likeness to do it. What I’m saying is that it’s not good for the game and it’s only going to get worse unless there’s federal legislation. »
Saban said he didn’t want to get into public trouble with Fisher, who was an assistant to the legendary college football coach while the two were at LSU in the early 2000s.
“Jimbo can say whatever he wants. We have known each other for a long time. He worked for me and is a very good coach. Like I said, I didn’t mean to single anyone out, but I don’t, “I don’t take it personally. Some people, when they clash, it’s all personal. It was never like this for me. Bill Belichick and I are best friends. We were in the same division for two years [in the NFL] when I was in Miami and never had a problem,” he said.
TEXAS A&M’S JIMBO FISHER BLASTS NICK SABAN ON NILE REMARKS: ‘MAYBE SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE Slapped HIM’
“I am not against NIL. I am against bidding for high school players. I am against lawyers, collectives and others who come between the money and the players. Is this really what we want it to be in college football? »
Saban accused Texas A&M of buying players and claimed that Jackson State paid rookie Travis Hunter $1 million to reverse his commitment from Florida State to the HBCU. Both Fisher and Sanders have denied the allegation.
Fisher responded to Saban’s remarks during a heated press conference earlier Thursday.
“Some people think they are God. Go find out how God has done his business. You can find out a guy, a lot of things you don’t want to know. We’re building him to be that football czar. Go dig into his past or anyone who has ever coached with him. You can find out all you want to find out what it does and how it does it,” Fisher said.
He denied the Aggies broke the rules when they reached the No. 1 recruiting class in 2022.
“I don’t cheat. I do not lie. If you did, my old man slapped me. Maybe someone should have slapped him (Saban),” Fisher said.
Sanders said in a tweet that Saban claimed to be a lie.
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For what it’s worth, Alabama and Texas A&M will meet on Oct. 8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.