Two of the most decorated head football coaches in the SEC exchanged a war of words last week, but when their teams meet in October you won’t be able to bet on the game in Alabama.
The exchange between Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and Alabama’s Nick Saban began on Wednesday night, when the latter said to local businessmen that “(Texas) A&M bought every player on their team,” referencing the NCAA’s new Name, Image, and Likeness provisions.
Fisher fired back the next day, holding a news conference to address Saban’s comments.
Unfortunately, the Oct. 8 game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, can be bet on in more than 30 states, but not in Alabama or Texas. State Sen. Greg Albritton’s Alabama sports betting bill would have created a state lottery and added sports betting, five casinos and two “satellite” casinos. It failed to gain much support this spring.
Saban’s comment was made in reference to the No. 1 ranked recruiting class that Fisher has signed, but it’s likely that Saban didn’t forget Texas A&M’s 41-38 overtime victory in College Station last season.
The seven-time national championship winning head coach lambasted his former assistant’s recruiting tactics on Wednesday.
"We didn't buy one player," Saban continued. "But I don't know if we're going to be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it."
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Fisher Fires Back at Saban
One thing that became clear during Fisher’s news conference on Thursday was that the 2013 National Championship-winning coach (when he was at Florida State) was not going to take Saban’s comments lightly.
"It's despicable that we have to sit here at this level of ball and say these things to defend the people of this organization, the kids, 17-year-old kids and their families," Fisher said. "It's amazing. Some people think they're God. Go dig into how 'God' did his deal. You may find out about a lot of things you don't want to know.
"We build him up to be the czar of football. Go dig into his past or anybody that's ever coached with him. You can find out anything you want to find out, what he does and how he does it. It's despicable; it really is."
No Golden Opportunity for Alabama Bettors
Alabama’s legislature failed to pass its sports betting bill in 2022, so the opportunity to use sports betting apps to bet on the Aggies trying for their first win at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a decade is lost.
Texas A&M, ranked fifth overall on FanDuel Sportsbook’s preseason CFP odds board at +3000, face the Crimson Tide during the 2022 regular season on Oct. 8. Alabama is the preseason betting favorite to win the 2023 College Football Playoff on FanDuel Sportsbook at +200.
The game, which kicks off at a to-be-determined time, has the Aggies as 16-point underdogs on FanDuel Sportsbook, though the exact moneyline and over/under has not been set yet.
With no professional sports to wager on, college sports in Alabama are sure to drive interest if the state ever legalizes it.
Will the Game Live Up to the War of Words?
You can bet that both teams will be ready on Oct. 8. The coaches have likely circled it on their calendars and are working on game plans.
The last time that the Aggies beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa was when Johnny Manziel pulled off a 29-24 upset in 2012. In the next eight contests between the schools, Alabama shellacked Texas A&M in all but one contest, outscoring the Aggies by a total of 160 points (353-173).
Whether this year’s showdown follows the script remains to be seen. What we can say for sure is that Fisher and Saban are helping ensure that college football remains in the headlines, though the season doesn’t kick off for close to 100 days.