Texas A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher fires back at 'clown acts' criticizing Aggies for relying on NIL deals along recruiting trail

ByALEX SCARBOROUGH via <a href="http://espn.go.com/" title="ESPN" class="espn_sc_byline">ESPN </a> via via logo
February 02, 2022, 6:19 PM

Instead of celebrating the No. 1 signing class on Wednesday, Texas A&M football coach Jimbo Fisher vehemently defended his program against accusations that money fueled the Aggies' success on the recruiting trail.

Fisher called out an anonymous message board poster who uses the handle "Sliced Bread" for claims that the Aggies had $30 million at their disposal in name, image and likeness funds, calling it a "joke."

But Fisher also took aim at the media, a Notre Dame administrator and fellow SEC coaches for spreading rumors about deals promised to recruits, saying it was "insulting" and "irresponsible."

On Tuesday, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin quipped that, "Texas A&M was going to incur a luxury tax in how much they paid for their signing class."

The Aggies' class includes four five-star prospects and 22 players ranked in the ESPN 300.

"To have coaches in our league and across this league to say it, clown acts," Fisher said. "Irresponsible as hell. Multiple coaches in our league. And the guys griping about NIL and transfer portal are using it the most and bragging about it the most. That's the ironic part. ... It's a joke. It does piss me off."

Fisher didn't stop there, threatening retaliation.

"I'll tell you what, I know how some of those guys recruit, too," he said. "Go dig into that. I know the history, I know the tradition. I know things. Trust me, you don't want to go down that avenue."

In December, Fisher told The Paul Finebaum Show that "There's always been NIL stuff going on, it just wasn't legal."

On Wednesday, he doubled down.

"Some of those guys complaining," Fisher said, "those aren't new NIL deals, they're them old NIL deals, you know what I'm saying? I'll stand by that."

At the Senior Bowl on Tuesday, Alabama coach Nick Saban lamented the way recruiting has changed thanks to NIL.

"When we start using name, image and likeness for a kid to come to our school, that's where I draw the line," Saban said. "Because that's not why we did this."

Saban did not mention Texas A&M or Fisher specifically, but he did push back against the idea that paying players has always happened.

"I hear these crazy people on TV who say now you're doing it aboveboard," Saban said. "We never did it. We never did it. We never cheated to get a player. We never paid players to come to our school.

"And now that's actually happening. People are making deals with high school players to go to their school."

Saban said that the schools with the most money -- whether through alumni backing or other means -- "have the best chance to have the best team."

"It's not about coaching and developing as much as it is, what kind of money can you make?" he said.

On Wednesday, Fisher pointed out how Alabama quarterback Bryce Young earned around $1 million in NIL deals last year.

"The $800,000 was wonderful," Fisher said. "Now it ain't wonderful no more, huh? ... We ain't got that. Ours are on record what comes up. We didn't do a lot of big deals."

Fisher then turned his attention to the transfer portal and how coaches gripe about it on the one hand and then turn around and take as many players as they can with the other.

"The hypocrisy is a joke," Fisher said. "It's an absolute joke. And it's insulting to our staff, how hard we work, how we do things. It's insulting to Texas A&M because there ain't a better place to go to school and play ball.

"You don't like that we're coming on? Get used to it, all right? We ain't going nowhere."

Fisher insisted that NIL earning potential isn't used in the recruiting process.

"We don't control the NIL," he said. "We don't do that. That's outside forces, outside funds."

Fisher added that if any coaches have a problem with his comments, they can come find him.

"I ain't a hard guy to find," he said. "We'll be in some meetings. You can say anything you want."

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