Chomp: Napier asked about Saban-Fisher feud & more conference games weighed during SEC meetings

FILE - At left, Alabama head coach Nick Saban yells to the sideline during the first half of Alabama's NCAA college football scrimmage, Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. At right, Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher reacts to an official's call during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Mississippi, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photos/File) (Uncredited)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.


Hey, Gators fans!

We have a lot coming out of the Southeastern Conference meetings this weekend in the Panhandle, and then we’re heading to the diamond.

🎤 Coaches field questions related to Saban-Fisher saga

Southeastern Conference leaders gathered this week for spring meetings in Destin, and of course, the feud between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher was going to be brought up.

Saban was asked if he had evidence that Texas A&M has been buying players with name, image and likeness compensation deals.

“I didn’t really say that anybody did anything wrong,” Saban said. “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.”

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

This all started last month when Saban called out the Aggies over their recruiting class this year, saying, “A&M bought every player on their team.” Then, Fisher responded by calling an impromptu news conference the next day, 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.

Both coaches received a public reprimand from the conference office.

On Tuesday, per Action Network college football insider Brett McMurphy, Florida coach Billy Napier said, “I’m not foolish enough to get caught commenting about that” about the back and forth between Saban, his former boss at Alabama, and Fisher.

Napier did agree that the current situation with NIL compensation is difficult to manage.

“We’re living in a land of no laws,” said Napier, who 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 are no players in the stadium, there’s nobody sitting in the stands and nobody sitting at home watching on TV.”

On Wednesday, Fisher said he was “moving on” from the drama.

“It’s over with. We’re done talking about it. We’re moving on to the future of what goes on and try to fix the problems that we have in college football,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot more pressing needs than our arguments.”

“We’re done. We’re moving on. I have no problem,” he added.

Read more about what other SEC coaches said about the quarrel and NIL here.

🏟️ Could ‘just means more’ mean more SEC games?

Another topic in Destin has been whether the SEC should expand from eight to nine conference games when the league grows from 14 to 16 teams with the upcoming additions of Oklahoma and Texas.

Whether a decision comes by the time the spring meetings wrap up Friday is still to be determined — and seeming more unlikely at the end of Wednesday’s sessions, according to the Associated Press.

“We’ve got some questions still to answer,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “We’ve got more work to do.”

Here’s what else Sankey said about the potential move to more conference games.

🏈 Pro prospects

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. on Tuesday released his top 25 list of 2023 NFL draft prospects and expanded that to include the top 10 at each position.

DEEP DIVE: Recognize these names? ESPN list includes several local prospects for 2023 NFL draft

Some of those players included Gators:

Quarterbacks

4. Anthony Richardson (overall rank: 13)

Centers

9. Kingsley Eguakun

Guards

5. O’Cyrus Torrence

Defensive tackles

4. Gervon Dexter

Inside linebackers

8. Ventrell Miller

Outside linebackers

10. Brenton Cox Jr.

Safeties

8. Rashad Torrence II

📖 Here come the preview magazines

College football preview season is here!

We’re kicking it off with a look at the Read & Reaction: 2022 Florida Football Preview Magazine.

In the latest edition of Gators Breakdown, host David Waters is joined by Read & Reaction’s Will Miles and Nick Knudsen to dive into their preview of the Gators and what surprised them the most about this team when putting together this preview.

Florida lands regional for NCAA baseball tournament

After the Gators baseball team made their way to the SEC tournament championship game, falling 8-5 to Tennessee, they were selected as a regional site for the NCAA baseball tournament.

GAME RECAP: Tennessee beats Florida to win SEC tourney

The 64-team tournament opens Friday in 16 regionals. Winners advance to eight best-of-three super regionals. Those winners move on to the College World Series in Omaha.

The top eight national seeds are assured of hosting super regionals if they win their regionals.

READ MORE: SEC, ACC each land 4 regionals for NCAA baseball tournament | Volunteers’ dominance earns them No. 1 seed in NCAA baseball

The top eight national seeds: Tennessee, Stanford, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, Miami, Oklahoma State and East Carolina.

Seeds nine through 16: Texas, North Carolina, Southern Mississippi, Louisville, Florida, Auburn, Maryland and Georgia Southern.

In the Gainesville Regional, Oklahoma will play Liberty at 1 p.m. Friday, followed by Florida’s matchup with Central Michigan at 6:30 p.m.

🥎 Gators punch ticket to Women’s College World Series

The Florida softball team will play in the Women’s College World Series for the 11th time.

The World Series starts with an eight-team double-elimination tournament, followed by a best-of-three championship series starting June 8.

Florida is the only member of the SEC to qualify. The 14th-seeded Gators routed No. 3 Virginia Tech on Sunday 12-0 in game three of their super regional.

GAME RECAP: Gators earn spot in Women’s College World Series with decisive win | READ MORE: ‘A different journey’ lands Florida in the Women’s College World Series for 11th time

Although defending national champion Oklahoma is the prohibitive favorite in the World Series, Florida’s resilience and ability to focus on the moment should serve them well in Oklahoma City, writes News4JAX sports anchor and reporter Cole Pepper.

Florida will play unseeded Oregon State at 7 p.m. Thursday.

✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.

🎙️ Listen to more Gators Breakdown

You can catch up on previous episodes of Gators Breakdown at News4JAX.com/GatorsBreakdown or click one of the following to tune in: Megaphone | Apple Podcasts | YouTube | Google Podcasts | Stitcher


About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.