Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

Fisher, Harsin Controversies Unlikely to Go Away Soon

ATLANTA — During the finale of SEC media days, the two coaches at the center of the offseason’s biggest controversies (Jimbo Fisher and Bryan Harsin) insisted they’ve moved on from them. First there was Harsin, who addressed head-on the elephant in the room: power brokers at Auburn wanted him fired after just one season and tried their best to drum up something via an official university inquiry to make it happen. They failed while Harsin dug his heels in, and he remains their coach. Harsin got to take a victory lap at SEC media days.

“I know some of you out there looking at me didn't expect me to be here at this time,” Harsin said. “There was an inquiry. It was uncomfortable. It was unfounded. It presented an opportunity for people to personally attack me, my family, and also our program. And it didn't work.

“What it did is it united our football team, our players, our staff. I'm really proud of our guys. I'm proud of what something like that that could be very challenging and difficult for a lot of people—how our guys stepped up and handled it.”

Then, there was Fisher, whose impromptu press conference following Nick Saban accusing Texas A&M of buying its recruiting class was passionately defiant and featured multiple personal barbs about his former boss’s character. But Fisher didn’t do anything to further the beef; just like at SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., he spent most of his time downplaying the fact that it had happened at all.

“I have great respect for Nick and his program,” Fisher said Thursday.

Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

Saban took the spat as a time to self reflect and become a better person and coach, and Fisher said he did the same.

“You’ve got two competitive guys who had a disagreement in opinion that we both voiced publicly for the first time both of us had done that. We both can grow from that and hopefully we will. … I have great respect for Nick and his program and everything he’s ever done. We’ve been very good friends for a long time. Isn’t that who you fight with the most? Your brothers who you’re closest to?”

While it was expected Fisher would downplay what happened with a likely directive from the conference not to keep things going, this is still a very far cry from the loaded statements he made about Saban back in May including imploring reporters to dig into Saban’s past and calling out “the narcissist” in him. Fisher told CBS that the hatchet’s buried, and that their spat is natural for people from West Virginia.

There’s one way these subplots get to go away: by winning on the field, which is the simplest avenue to get any off-field distraction to vanish. Harsin faces a stiff test early in the season with Penn State traveling to Auburn in Week 3, plus its normally loaded SEC slate. For A&M, everything points to the Oct. 8 showdown against Alabama in Tuscaloosa. If the Aggies stumble, where the narratives go from there will be anyone’s guess.

Don’t count out that Auburn’s boosters are certainly capable of dragging everyone through another saga to oust a head coach (it’d be the third such fiasco in 18 months if they do). For Fisher, his team will have to put its money where his mouth is—as if the Tide needed any further motivation after last year’s loss in College Station.

Fisher and Harsin insist on moving on, and they personally may have, but these will be boiling under the surface this fall—whether they like it or not.

Related Stories
Jimbo Fisher is out of excuses at Texas A&M. Now he needs to win the titles Aggies crave.
If the Devil himself flew to College Station and presented a five-point plan to make the Texas A&M Aggies the…
From analysis to the latest developments in health, read the most diverse news in one place.
‘At this stage he hasn't an on-field role’ – No expanded All Blacks position for Schmidt says under pressure Foster
Joe Schmidt has formally joined the All Blacks management team but will not take any additional responsibilities according to head…
College Football Preseason Running Back Unit Rankings: CFN Preview 2022
College football unit rankings - the running backs. Ranking the top 10 overall, and then ranking each conference's running back…
Nick Saban on success of Kirby Smart, former Alabama assistants
Nick Saban talked about his two losses to former assistants last season at SEC media days and Kirby Smart's success.
Joe Starkey: Pat Narduzzi's nonsensical Mark Whipple rant made him look bad (again)
PITTSBURGH — Pat Narduzzi needs to work on his breakup etiquette. What is it with this guy and his outgoing…
One place to find news on any topic, from hundreds of sites.
Zoey Clark insists she and her boyfriend 'make a good team' ahead of world championships
THE cutting analysis and tough love come at the training track. And at the breakfast table too.