Cheating will not get you excommunicated from the college coaching community. Who in this league of honorable gentlemen has not bent a line or two? The profession can also forgive moral depravity.
The unforgivable sin of college coaching is much worse than that: To publicly criticize or denounce another coach is an attack on the clipboard wall itself. It’s off limits.
Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher not only broke that cardinal rule in the off-season, but he did so by coming in on the all-time greatest, a man whose coaching boom reaches far and wide.
Is Nick Saban infallible? Of course not.
But is it another coach’s place to say that publicly? Most coaches would say no.
Fisher is not most coaches. This proud peacock refused to give in to the overlord of college football.
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Throughout the off-season, there were unsubstantiated whispers that Aggies’ No. 1 recruiting class may have been a byproduct, at least in part, of new name, image and likeness rules. Understandably, that didn’t sit well with Fisher.
Then Saban took the floor at a speech in Birmingham in May. While complaining about the effects of NIL, without evidence, Saban accused the Aggies of buying every player on their roster. His statement raised some eyebrows.
Fisher could have ignored, downplayed, or simply dismissed Saban’s claim. Instead, he went to the scorched earth.
In a press conference that took to the Clipboard wall, Fisher called Saban a despicable narcissist and a false god. He suggested that poking around Saban’s program would make you uncomfortable.
As Omar said in “The Wire”, when you get to the king, you better not miss it. Not only did Fisher miss, but he tripped and was planted face down in a pile of his own peacock poop.
Fisher’s Aggies, despite all that recruiting success and a No. 6 preseason ranking, are 3-5. And Fisher has become the biggest joke in his business.
This is normally when the sports media sharpen their scalpel, but Fisher’s colleagues have joined the laughter. Ole Miss’s witty humorous master, Lane Kiffin, leads the charge.
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Kiffin got into Fisher’s crosshairs off-season. After Kiffin suggested that soliciting incentives helped the A&M signing, Fisher fired back, calling Kiffin a clown act.
While Kiffin opted for veiled barbs leading up to Saturday’s game at Kyle Field, he removed any ambiguity after his number 12 rebels defeated the Aggies 31-28.
Kiffin started his attack during his post-game interview on the SEC Network.
“I mean, running 390 meters against a bunch of five stars is pretty good,” Kiffin said.
Cole Cubelic of the SEC network asked Kiffin what he would wear for Halloween. Kiffin thought Fisher could lend a hand.
“Maybe Jimbo has a Joker outfit for me,” Kiffin joked.
Kiffin’s verbal haymaking continued at his press conference.
“If someone attacks you personally and calls you and your buddy, Coach Saban, both clowns, you take it personally,” Kiffin said.
The gloves are off and Fisher is the punching bag.
Kiffin tweeted earlier this week that “Karma” is his favorite song from Taylor Swift’s new album. Now we know why.
Of course, Fisher will enjoy the last laugh. He is protected by an $87.5 million buyout.
Fisher broke rule 1 of his profession, but he didn’t forget rule 2: make sure you have an escape hatch full of dollar bills.
Bryan Harsin Knows Auburn Isn’t Good
Speaking of buyouts, Auburn coach Bryan Harsin sounds like a man ready for his pink slip and a trip to buyout utopia.
‘We are not good enough. It just comes down to that,” said Harsin after Auburn narrowed his 41-27 home loss to Arkansas to 9-12.
I couldn’t have said it better myself, although I’ve been saying that since pre-season.
Harsin didn’t recruit well. While SEC colleagues like Kiffin, LSU’s Brian Kelly, Florida’s Billy Napier and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer met needs through transfers, Harsin lost more than he made on the portal. He also couldn’t keep his coaching staff intact.
The university’s investigation into Harsin that came into the public eye last winter didn’t help the coach, but this tenure showed the signs of failure before that tribunal began.
Bottom line: Auburn isn’t good enough, and neither is his coach.
Three and out
1. It’s strange to see the program Steve Spurrier built without talented wide receivers and been crippled by a quarterback who doesn’t threaten the defense through the air. Florida did well to keep the game against Georgia within 22 points. The loss of 42-20 revealed the amount of recruiting Napier has to do. Start upgrading the skill positions.
2. It’s a testament to the season Hendon Hooker is going through in Tennessee that he completed 76% of his passes in a Kentucky 44-6 rout and I thought it was an average performance by Hooker’s standards. That’s how high Hooker set the bar with his great play against Florida and Alabama. He is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, but that prize is won with performances in November and December. How Hooker fares this week against No. 1 Georgia and his rock-solid secondary will be remembered when the ballots are cast.
3. South Carolina defeated Kentucky and Texas A&M by smoke and mirrors, but the offensive limitations were exposed in a 23-10 loss to Missouri. The result was a boost for struggling Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz and his beleaguered quarterback, Brady Cook. Amid the fans’ clamor for a quarterback change, Cook delivered one of his best performances.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer.
The “Topp Rope,” is his biweekly SEC football column published on the USA TODAY Network. If you like Blake’s coverage, please consider: a digital subscription that gives you access to everything. Also check out his podcast, SEC Football unfilteredor access exclusive columns through the SEC Unfiltered Newsletter.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Lane Kiffin buried Jimbo Fisher. Here’s Why He Toasted Texas A&M Coach