Two of the most-decorated head football coaches in the SEC exchanged a war of words this week, setting the stage for what’s sure to be an action-packed season down south.
The dispute between Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and Alabama’s Nick Saban began on Wednesday night, when the latter said that “[Texas] A&M bought every player on their team,” referencing the NCAA’s new Name, Image, and Likeness provisions.
The comment was also made in reference to the No. 1 recruiting class that Fisher signed in College Station, though it also likely had something to do with the Aggies’ 41-38 overtime victory over the Crimson Tide in College Station last season.
The two teams will meet on Oct. 8 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Both have Top 5 Texas sports betting odds to win the national championship on FanDuel and DraftKings, with the Crimson Tide the overall favorite. Unfortunately, sports betting isn’t legal in either state.
It appears that Saban, the seven-time national championship winning head coach, is not keen on Fisher’s recruiting tactics, and on Wednesday took aim at his former assistant.
"We didn't buy one player," Saban told local business leaders during an appearance Wednesday. "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."
Updated NCAA College Football Championship Odds
‘Go Dig Into His Past’
Regardless of the cause of the spat, one thing that became clear during Fisher’s press conference on Thursday was he was not going to take Saban’s comments lightly.
"It's despicable that we have to sit here at this level of ball and say these things to defend the people of this organization, the kids, 17-year-old kids and their families," said Fisher, who coached Florida State to the 2013 national title. "It's amazing. Some people think they're God. Go dig into how 'God' did his deal. You may find out about a lot of things you don't want to know.
"We build him up to be the czar of football. Go dig into his past or anybody that's ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out, what he does and how he does it. It's despicable; it really is."
A Golden Opportunity Missed for Bettors in Texas
Texas’ legislature failed to pass a sports betting bill in 2021 and the body only meets in odd-numbered years. It will likely come up again next year, but it will still face long odds for passage.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, supported by professional teams and national sportsbook operators, looks to make it a priority next session.
The opportunity for the Aggies to earn their first win at Bryant Denny Stadium in a decade presents itself in early October. That’s when Texas A&M, ranked 5th overall on FanDuel Sportsbook’s preseason CFP odds board at +3000, face off against the Crimson Tide during the 2022 regular season.
Alabama, listed as the preseason betting favorite to win the 2023 College Football Playoff on FanDuel Sportsbook at +200, will get its shot at revenge against Fisher and the Aggies.
The game, which kicks off at a to-be-determined time on Oct. 8, lists the Aggies as 16-point underdogs on FanDuel Sportsbook, though the exact moneyline and over/under has not been set yet.
What does appear quite clear is that Fisher and Saban have unfinished business that will be settled one way or another come October.
Will the War of Words Live Up to the Hype?
You can bet that Fisher’s team will be ready to face the Crimson Tide.
The last time the Aggies beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa was when Johnny Manziel & Co. pulled off a 29-24 shocker in 2012.
In the next eight contests between the two schools, Alabama shellacked Texas A&M in all but one game, outscoring the Aggies by a total of 160 points (353-173).
Whether this year’s showdown between the two SEC giants on Oct. 8 will follow the script remains to be seen.
What we can say for sure is that Fisher and Saban are doing their fair share to ensure that college football remains in the headlines, even though the actual sport doesn’t kick off for close to 100 days.