Around the SEC: Has Saban kept Kiffin’s number in his phone? Plus, playing the $75 million game
SEC programs invest heavily in their coaches, and this Saturday, fans get to enjoy the payoff when Nick Saban takes his Crimson Tide to Oxford to take on Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss Rebels.
They are but two of the many coaches in the conference who contribute to its rich character.
There is no shortage of coaching storylines this week.
The $75 million game in College Station
It has been nearly three years since Jimbo Fisher put his Christmas tree to the curb in Tallahassee and subsequently signed a guaranteed 10-year, $75 million deal to coach the Texas A&M Aggies.
Coming off of a 52-24 drubbing in Tuscaloosa, murmurs of unrest are beginning to rumble through the SEC.
The Aggies are 18-10 under Fisher in a little more than two full seasons, with a 10-8 conference record. In its most recent meetings against SEC West foes Alabama, LSU and Auburn, Texas A&M has lost three times by a combined score of 130-51.
Not exactly the record the Aggies were hoping for with $60 million remaining on Fisher’s deal.
A sure sign in the SEC that the heat is getting turned up is when the jokes start rolling in from observers and fans. That is exactly what happened yesterday after Fisher was asked at his weekly press conference to cite progress his program has made.
Imagine being a 3-score dog, not covering and still saying this. https://t.co/ixgZGlPjvC
— Connor O’Gara (@cjogara) October 5, 2020
Would’ve respected him more if he’d said “One…” and then counted to 75 million. https://t.co/Q6zs8Bf4Zq
— Karen Howell (@karenehowell) October 5, 2020
Fisher’s team hosts the No. 4 Florida Gators this weekend. A win may signal a sure sign of progress, while a loss will provide even more fodder for SEC fanbases.
The Muschamp doctrine
South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp is probably just fine with Fisher being under the microscope this week. Otherwise, more attention may fall onto Muschamp’s fourth quarter offensive philosophy.
Last week versus Florida, down 24 points with 15 minutes remaining and facing a 4th and 2, Muschamp elected to kick a 46-yard field goal.
Later in the fourth quarter, down two touchdowns, South Carolina embarked on an 18-play, 74-yard drive which siphoned more than seven minutes off the clock and ended on a fourth-down incompletion with 0:48 left in the game.
The week prior, his team down seven to Tennessee with three minutes remaining, Muschamp chose to kick a field goal to make it 31-27 in favor of the Vols. The Gamecocks never got the ball back.
The Lane Train is picking up speed just like the villain in Tony Scott’s action-thriller movie.
At his Monday press conference, Kiffin was asked about his former boss at Alabama no less than a half-dozen times.
While complimentary of Saban and the Alabama program, Kiffin did say that the two men are not regular texting buddies.
“That’s not really his wheelhouse,” explained Kiffin. “Not really sending out texts once in a while just checking on you.”
While the national media has taken it upon themselves to explore the relationship between Kiffin and Saban, a grand total of zero questions about Kiffin were directed to the Crimson Tide head coach at his own weekly press conference. The question of whether Saban has kept Kiffin’s number in his phone remains unanswered.
Saban did offer praise of Kiffin during his opening statement.
“I think Lane has done an outstanding job,” he remarked. “The players are playing hard.”
The Tide are currently a 24-point favorite in the game set to kick off at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia