What SEC coaches said about Nick Saban vs Jimbo Fisher: Cotton candy, Mickey Mouse and a skinned cat
MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — Most SEC coaches didn't wade into the Nick Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher dispute, but among the topics discussed in relation to the two football coaches Tuesday: Cotton candy, Mickey Mouse and a skinned cat.
Before the SEC spring meetings began in Florida, a handful of coaches spoke at the podium at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa.
Saban said he has no problems with Fisher, who has not yet spoken with reporters at the meetings. The two got in a public dispute after Saban said on May 18 that Texas A&M bought its entire recruiting class. Fisher held a news conference the next day, attacking Saban as he called him a narcissist and that the Alabama coach maybe should have been slapped as a child.
Here's what each coach who spoke at the podium on Tuesday said about Saban and Fisher.
15 YEARS OF NICK SABAN:Celebrate Nick Saban's 15 epic seasons at Alabama football with our special book!
Kirby Smart, Georgia
Smart's phone started blowing up during Fisher's press conference, but the Georgia coach says he hasn't paid much attention to it since.
Smart was on the LSU staff with the two coaches in 2004.
“I’m not really worried about a feud between two guys that used to sit in the same staff meeting and have similar conversations," Smart said. "At the end of the day, sometimes things get heated. You’d rather it not be in the public arena, but at the end of the day, things like that happen. I mean, you guys should be on the headphones sometime. You would think that was ‘Mickey Mouse.’ It just happened in front of everybody.”
Fisher has said that he won't take Saban's calls and hasn't spoken to him since Saban's comments. Smart said the coaches don't speak to each other anyway.
"It's not commonplace place for guys to be reaching out and be friendly," Smart said. "We compete on the field, and we’re constantly competing for prospects day in and day out. It’s not super unusual.”
Eli Drinkwitz, Missouri
The Tigers' coach immediately deflected and started talking about cotton candy.
Instead of talking about the Saban-Fisher public spat, Drinkwitz discussed one he witnessed between two of his daughters while the Drinkwitz family was visiting Disney World recently.
“We had cotton candy and it was a matter of who got the most," Drinkwitz said.
They were watching the Disney parade, and he went to get snacks. He brought back only one bag.
"My wife was like, 'You’re an idiot,'" Drinkwitz said. "'You don’t know parenting. You coach football. You don’t bring back one bag of cotton candy. You bring two bags of cotton candy.'"
Then Drinkwitz transitioned to talking about Saban and Fisher, saying both are two greats in coaching and have opinions on how things should operate.
“When tensions are high, and uncertainty is high, people’s emotions are strong," Drinkwitz said. "I think that’s what happened. We’re all competitive."
Billy Napier, Florida
Napier coached Saban's receivers from 2013-16 and was an analyst during 2011, so he wasn't about to wade into the spat.
“I’m not foolish enough to get commenting about that situation," said Napier, in his first season with Florida. "We’ll let those two gentlemen handle that, but both are very accomplished. Both are competitors. Both have conviction about who they are and what they do. It’s one of the reasons they’ve had success. In this profession, there’s a lot of ways to skin a cat.”
Shane Beamer, South Carolina
Beamer, heading into his second year with the Gamecocks, decided not to touch the situation.
“I’ll stay away from that one, sorry," Beamer said. "We all put a lot of work into recruiting and a lot of time and effort, without a doubt. Certainly, we all try to do things the right way, myself included. I’ll leave it at that.”
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly