SEC coaches gathered in person Tuesday for their first spring meetings since 2019, and there was no bigger story going into the week in Destin, Fla., than Jimbo Fisher’s public row with Nick Saban.
Minutes after the doors to the hotel’s conference room opened, Ole Miss trainer Lane Kiffin walked over to a desk and described what happened inside .
“I guess the best way to describe it is that our band is more professional in the room than they are in front of the camera,” Kiffin said. “[It’s like] where people could say things on text where they wouldn’t in person.
The scheduled meeting, which will continue on Tuesday with the football managers still in attendance, discusses issues such as NIL, the transfer portal, future planning models and other issues.
“Pretty normal,” Kiffin said of Tuesday’s session. “The assumption is probably that it’s different in there than what you think and what the public thinks. The guys have work to do. They’re professionals. It’s probably a lot calmer than you think. imagine.
The coaches were arranged in the conference room in alphabetical order by school, except for Fisher, who sat on one side of the room with SEC officials.
“Jimbo is our chairman,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “It’s a revolving chair. He was very committed. What I said at the start was that we need to have 14 football coaches focused and engaged in conversation. No one can shut me up. We have that from time to time. »
Sankey added that the conversation was “at times candid” and there was “a bit of laughter” from others.
“We need the kind of meaningful concepts and ideas that will lead us to solutions to some of the problems we have,” he said. “This is the kind of healthy reunion we needed.”
But Sankey said he couldn’t say whether Saban and Fisher spoke about what made national headlines earlier this month, including Fisher saying he was “done” with Saban and not wouldn’t take his calls.
Saban reiterated Tuesday that he had “no problem” with Fisher, who did not speak to reporters Tuesday.
There were discussions following the Saban-Fisher trade that Sankey had essentially issued a gag order to SEC coaches, although Sankey clarified Tuesday night that “I think before we even we were introduced, there was an acknowledgment” of the need to keep the litigation in-house.
The coaches seemed to get the message.
“The point is not to say anything ridiculously stupid so I don’t get yelled at at this coaches meeting,” Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz said to begin his press conference Tuesday morning.
Mike Rodak is a Beat Alabama reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.