SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey Recalls Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher ‘Kidney Punch’

How could anyone forget the drama that took place before SEC spring meetings when Nick Saban accused Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M of buying its recruiting class. The pure chaos that ensued after Saban walked off the stage in Birmingham will be remembered for a long time.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey recalled the late May incident in a Tuesday appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. Sankey was in New York when news of Saban’s accusations began to circulate on social media.

“It was 11 [p.m.] in New York and one of my staff said you need to know about this,” Sankey recalled. “I didn’t really sleep well that night because it’s a bit of a kidney punch knowing that I’ll have to deal with it.

“Then it starts with phone calls the next morning, speaking to both athletic directors,” Sankey added.  “I talked and listened to both coaches, and I said here’s what we’re going to have to do and it kind of escalated through the day.”

But that wasn’t the end. The SEC held its annual meetings in Destin a short time later. The anticipation of what would be said by Fisher and Saban made every press conference intense. The leaking of a seating chart only fueled the fire, as Sankey recalled on the DP Show.

“Then when we went to our spring meetings, which are in Destin, we peaked our media attendance and everyone’s looking for something to happen,” Sankey said. “Somebody tweeted a picture of our seating chart from our football coaches meeting, which I never thought I’d have to worry about that particular piece of confidentiality. 

“Jimbo was our chair and we had a great deep conversation about what’s happening around us in college football,” Sankey added. “That’s where I began with things are never gonna be the way they were, whatever we’ve known for 20 or 30 years past, that’s not the way it’s gonna be. But it doesn’t have to be the way that it is. What we need is the really bright people around the sport to engage in problem solving with me, and that’s where accusations and complaints don’t solve problems.”

We have all witnessed how this ordeal has played out over the last few months, with both coaches acting like they’ve moved on. Deep down, we know Saban and Fisher still have a few scores to settle, on and off the field.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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