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Mike Leach weighs in on Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher feud

Mike Leach speaks at 2022 SEC Media Days
(Jimmie Mitchell/SEC)

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin joked during his press conference at the start of SEC Media Days that some way some how coaches end up talking about Alabama when they’re at the podium. That statement was true again on Tuesday when the topic of Nick Saban’s feud with Jimbo Fisher was brought up.

Kiffin’s in-state rival, Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach, was asked during his availability for his take on the dispute between the two coaches. Rather than picking a side, Leach focused on what brought the two to fight in the first place which was the setup of name, image and likeness in college athletics.

“I think they both kind of illustrate the frustration of how things are right now,” Leach said. “It’s not sustainable, so something’s going to change. Well, we haven’t defined exactly what is an amateur, a student-athlete, as opposed to a professional. I think we need to do that. I think there is ways to do it. I think some football players it may be in their best interest to remain a student-athlete, under that model, as opposed to professional and vice versa.

“I think that’s got to be defined.”

Back during an event in May, Saban claimed that Fisher and Texas A&M has bought its top recruiting class with NIL money which prompted a public tirade from Fisher who called a press conference tearing into Saban and calling him a “narcissist.”

Saban would later apologize for naming the Aggies but has remained consistent on the need for widespread legislation when it comes to NIL. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey also shared similar sentiments to Saban during his opening remarks on Monday at SEC Media Days.

Late in his answer, Leach also touched upon the privileges student-athletes currently have that may even exceed those of professional players and that college sports still have a lot of change to go through.

“Currently college athletes have more privileges than anybody at any other professional level,” Leach said. “Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t think it stays the same because there’s responsibilities that go along with being a professional. I’ve said this before, you’ve probably already written it down, but those guys lock themselves in rooms and watch film all the time so you’ll be able to get away with it.

“Go up to your next favorite NFL guy, say, ‘Hey, I heard in the NFL they’re going to have unmitigated free agency, 365, 24/7. And, by the way, there’s not going to be any salary cap or draft, you’re just going to have bidding wars.’ Just watch the expression on their face. Don’t look at anything else or write down any notes because the expression on their face will be well worth it.

“I don’t think the dust has settled. We’re in a big transition period on a number of things in college football. We got sharp guys actively trying to sort it out. I hope that it will be.”

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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77

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