The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Aggie -'Bama SEC Football battle has already begun verbally

 

Last updated 5/24/2022 at 7:27pm

Rabid college football fans in the Lone Star State and Alabama are already looking forward to October 8 when Alabama hosts Texas A&M in a Southeastern Conference grudge match at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Crimson Tide is seeking revenge for 41-38 upset victory by the Aggies last Oct. 9 at Kyle Field in College Station.

Although the players on both teams have finished their final exams and are looking forward to some summer fun before the grind begins in two months, the upcoming October battle is already on their minds.

And just to fuel that desire to get back on the gridiron practice field and start knocking heads again, head coaches Nick Saban of Alabama and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher have been trading barbs with one another about how the new name, image and likeness rule (NIL) influence the recruiting at both schools.

You see, Saban has been the best college recruiter of high school and junior college football talent for the past 15 years or so with the rest of the pack just hoping to have a shot at being No. 2.

But when the dust settled this year after the recruiting and signings ended, Texas A&M had out-recruited Alabama and was declared No. 1 according to 247Sports.com, ousting the Crimson Tide from their usual lofty position and finishing second. It was seven months after college athletes for the first time under NCAA rules were able to benefit financially from NIL.

Saban immediately hollered "foul" and accused Texas A&M of "buying" every player who signed with the Aggies. But he added on ESPNU Radio that he did not accuse anyone of unlawful activities.

"We were second in recruiting last year; A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn't buy one player," Saban was quoted in Friday's Houston Chronicle.

And of course, Aggies Jimbo Fisher didn't just sit on his hands and say "You're right, coach." He blasted Saban, "It's really despicable. Despicable...You're taking shots at 17-year-old kids and their families that they broke state laws. We never bought anybody; no rules were broken.

"It's despicable that a reputable head coach can come out and say this when he doesn't get his way or things don't go his way...The narcissist in him does not allow those things to happen, and it's ridiculous," Fisher bellowed back. "We build him up to be this czar of football. Go dig into his past or talk to anybody who's ever coached with him."

Saban, who was Fisher's boss at LSU when they won a national title in 2003, went on to say last week that he didn't know if Alabama would be able to sustain it's stellar recruiting because more people are doing it, referring to setting up NIL deals before players arrive on campus, the article pointed out.

Alabama promised the 70-year-old Saban a contract worth $84.4 million that runs through 2028 while the 56-year-old Fisher is still looking for his first 10-win season with the Aggies.

There has been plenty of comments about this verbal exchange between Saban and Fisher, but old-timers say it is nothing like the feud that existed between Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer and Texas Longhorn coach Darrell Royal, who accused Switzer of sending oil businessman Lonnie Williams to spy on UT's practice and sending him intel.

On Monday morning's ESPN "First Take" program, host Stephen A Smith said that Saban made a big mistake by naming the school he was referring to because Fisher coached under him. His issue was NIL and the impact it has on recruiting, Stephen A. pointed out.

KWICKIES...The San Francisco Giants have put Lufkin native Brandon Belt on the IL due to inflammation of his knee. The first baseman was just starting to raise his batting average to where it usually belongs.

The Houston Astros returned home to win three of the four-game series from the rival Texas Rangers, including another masterful performance from ace Justin Verlander, who pitched six scoreless innings Saturday to lower his earned run average to 1.22 and raise his record to 6-1 as the Astros won 2-1. Second baseman Jose Altuve hit his sixth leadoff home run Sunday and the 26th of his career. In games through Sunday, left fielder Michael Brantley has hit safely in 11 straight games and the Astros pitchers rank second in MLB with a 2.84 ERA, trailing only the LA Dodgers. The homestand ends tonight along with the three-game series against the Cleveland Guardians (I still like Indians).

For the second straight Triple Crown horse race-Saturday's Preakness-favorite Epicenter finished second to 5-1 shot Early Voting, who will not run in the Belmont Stakes in three weeks and plans to train for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August.

A tip of the Korner Kap to Good Samaritan Tommy Thompson who stopped to aid a senior citizen who had a flat tire and changed it for him. And like Elvis Presley once sung "I Was the One".

The red-hot Orangefield Bobcats baseball team continues to win big, beating Livingston twice by 12-6 and 12-1 scores and advancing to the regional semifinals against China Spring.

Lamar University narrowly missed winning the Western Athletic Conference Southwest Division title by sweeping Tarleton State last weekend, but finished second to Sam Houston State, which entered Sunday with a one-game lead over the Redbirds. If the two teams tied, the Cards would have earned the top seed by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bearkats. Orange native Jack Dallas earned his 13th save of the season-a school record--in Sunday's 5-4 win. The second-seeded Cardinals will meet the Seattle Redhawks (11-19) when the WAC tournament begins today in Mesa, Ariz.

JUST BETWEEN US...Justin Thomas-my pick in last week's Korner to win the PGA Championship last weekend-came from seven strokes down going into Sunday's final round to defeat Texan Will Zalatoris in a three-hole playoff at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. John Mahaffey, in the 1978 PGA Championship in Oakmont was the only other player to come from seven strokes on the final day. Thomas won the $2.7 million first place money while Zalatoris picked up a cool $1,620,000 for runner-up. After shooting 79 Saturday in his 79th major, Tiger Woods withdrew for the first time in his career in a major.

 

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