Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher’s beef raise the curtain on the underbelly of college football’s recruiting culture

Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher’s beef raise the curtain on the underbelly of college football’s recruiting culture

Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher argue. You may have heard… and read and watched. The invective is real, and it is spectacular. Power Five could be redefined as the number of fingers the Texas A&M coach curled into a fist while waiting for Saban next week at the SEC Spring Meetings.

Yes, it’s absurd, ridiculous and inescapable on all platforms. But for now, he’s revealed what decades of NCAA investigations, enforcement and sanctions haven’t: a little transparency.

The name, image and likeness helped pull back the curtain on how the sausage was made. In this case, the sausage recruits, which is fatty enough without attaching a breakfast analogy to it.

You can talk smack about a man’s record, the quality of calls or the coaching staff, but it’s better not to go there the with recruitment. Not publicly. And that’s what Saban did.

Recruitment is the heart of sport. Everything about college football ultimately comes down to recruiting.

Thanks to the Alabama coach’s accusations — and really, that’s all they are right now — we’ve uncovered more about the recruiting process than at any time since the death penalty. of EMS.

Jimbo “bought” his recruiting class? Tell us more. What has been a rumor in the industry, Saban has revealed it as fact. Well, his fact. If this is true, how is the climate different from what it was before? Recruits have been bought since the first hundred dollar handshake.

NIL has muddled the meaning of terms such as “pay to play”, “incentive” and even “booster”.

The NCAA isn’t about to tell us. So, we have two superstar coaches quibbling not about the degree of wrongdoing, but whether lining up a recruiting class with all the NIL perks available is dirty.

Nick says yes. Jimbo fired back, bashing his former boss in the loudest language possible. Their relationship is over.

Does it stop sniping? Because as a consumer of college football…I want more.

A Power Five coach recently told me that all ongoing discussions with rookies start with the amount of NIL money they can receive. Is it wrong, or is it just the way of the world right now?

Hugh Freeze must be laughing today. Remember that top five Ole Miss class that looked so bad in 2013? The NCAA concluded in 2019 that there is “an unconstrained culture of booster involvement in football recruiting.” Louisiana has a bill pending that would allow the involvement of the NIL booster. Tennessee, Missouri, and Mississippi have laws or pending laws that would allow coaches to field NIL deals.

One man’s cheating is another man’s recruiting.

I remember the scene in Casablanca where Louis Renault exclaims: “I am shocked, shocked that there is gambling here.”

There is a little side of glass houses in all this. Any manager who has ever “bought a player” or has knowledge of it – under the old rules – must disqualify himself from the discussion.

Is Fisher a renegade or a forward thinking NIL opportunist?

Ultimately, we’re seeing a whistling match between the coaches who brought together the top two recruiting classes of the 2022 cycle. Absolutes in the recruiting space seem hard to come by when it comes to challenging the someone’s ethics.

At least under the old rules we knew the rules. Or at least we had an idea. Six digits. New SUV. Money donated to the church from an uncle who can never be found. Cryptocurrency distribution also seems to be all the rage.

What is different is that coaches are under greater pressure in the era of NIL. What was going on under the table is above, public and – until further notice – largely legal. Sooner or later, those monster NIL deals reflect on a coach whose fanbase asks, “Why can’t we do this?”

What is different is that NIL revealed a black market economy that is now more or less allowed and above all else. On some level it’s legal until someone somewhere can prove that offering a Kansas State guard (Miami transfer Nijel Pack) an $800,000 contract to tweet and make videos for a billionaire’s business is against the rules.

On the face of it, this is permitted by both the spirit and the letter of what is currently NIL law. If so, all we’re discussing is the number of zeros attached to a chord.

Add a millionaire national championship coach questioning the ethics of another millionaire national championship coach, and you have a slap fight that never would have happened. without NIL.

The coaches had plausible deniability. If they swam in those recruiting waters, they weren’t going to drown.

It used to be, “I don’t want to know how we got the guy, just get him.” Now it’s “Why don’t we have a collective?”

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