Saban on feud with Fisher: ‘I have no problem with Jimbo’

Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK
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DESTIN, Fla. — Alabama coach Nick Saban tried to put an end to his feud with Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher on Tuesday as Southeastern Conference leaders gathered for spring meetings at a resort on the Florida Gulf Coast.

“I didn’t really say that anybody did anything wrong,” Saban said when asked if he had evidence that Texas A&M has been buying players with name, image and likeness compensation deals. “OK, and I’ve said everything I’m going to say about this. I should have never mentioned any individual institutions as I’ve said that before.”

Saban added: “I have no problem with Jimbo. I have no problem with Jimbo at all.”

Saban set off Fisher two weeks ago when he called out Texas A&M and other schools while talking about the need for NIL regulation in college sports.

Fisher responded angrily, saying Saban’s comments were despicable and calling his former boss at LSU a “narcissist” while denying any wrongdoing with his program that landed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country for 2022.

The SEC spring meetings – taking place in person for the first time since 2019 because of the pandemic — were the first opportunity for the two superstar coaches to meet face-to-face since the dustup. Fisher was not scheduled to meet with reporters Tuesday.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart downplayed the back and forth between Fisher and Saban. Smart worked under Saban for years, including a season at LSU when Fisher was Saban’s offensive coordinator.

“You guys should be on the headphones sometimes,” Smart said, referencing the interaction between coaches on game days. “It just happened in front of everybody.”

Before heading into what was scheduled to be a five-hour meeting with all 14 SEC coaches, Saban met with reporters for about 10 minutes.The first question Saban he was asked was about Texas A&M and he quickly pivoted into trying to make a broader point about NIL.

“Some kind of uniform name, image and likeness standard that supports some kind of equitable, national competition I think is really, really important in college athletics and college football,” Saban said.

Saban said transparency was needed to ensure athletes are signing legitimate deals that pay them for their services and that boosters needed to be kept out of recruiting.

The NCAA lifted most of its rules barring athletes from earning money from sponsorship and endorsement deals last July, but there are concerns among many in college sports that NIL deals are being used as recruiting inducements and de facto pay-for-play. The NCAA issued guidance to Division I members in early May to make clear booster-funded collectives being involved in recruiting is a rules violation.

“Believe me, I’m all for players making as much as they can make,” Saban said. “But I also think we’ve got to have some uniform, transparent way to do that.”

Florida coach Billy Napier, another former Saban assistant and newcomer to the SEC in his first year in Gainesville, ducked commenting about Saban and Fisher, but agreed the current situation with NIL compensation is difficult to manage.

“We’re living in a land of no laws,” Napier said, but added he has no qualms with football players taking home some of the millions in revenue they generate.

“It’s foolish to say the players don’t deserve a piece of the pie,” Napier said. “If there’s no players in the stadium there’s nobody sitting in the stands, and nobody sitting at home watching on TV.”

Saban reiterated Alabama players made plenty of money with NIL deals last year, hiring agents to guide them through the process.

He just wants those deals to be struck after a player enrolls at a school.

“This is not about Alabama,” Saban said. “This is not about what’s best for us. I just hope we can sort of put some guardrails on all of this.”

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.