Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher both grew up a few miles apart in West Virginia and both enjoyed a lot of success at Louisiana State.
For the first time, those two coaches square off against each other on Saturday in Atlanta as No. 1 Alabama goes against the third-ranked Seminoles — the first opening-weekend game featuring two of the top three ranked teams in the AP poll since those rankings began in 1950.
On Thursday, former FSU and Westminster Academy quarterback Danny Kanell asked Fisher about his relationship with the Alabama coach on his afternoon show on SiriusXM.
Kanell joked that he didn’t think Saban was the type of coach who would send friendly text messages to his opposing coach on the week of a big game whatever their friendship was.
“He won’t and I won’t either,” Fisher told Kanell.
“We’re fixing to play a big game. Listen, respect is respect but we’re keeping score now.”
Fisher and Saban first began working together when Saban left Michigan State for LSU before the 2000 season.
Saban hired Fisher to be his offensive coordinator and the two enjoyed great success in their five seasons together with the Tigers winning close to 50 games, three bowl games and the 2003 national championship.
When Saban left LSU for the Miami Dolphins following the 2004 season, Les Miles took over the program and Fisher stayed in Baton Rouge for another two seasons.
In 2007, Fisher left for Florida State and eventually became the coach-in-waiting, replacing the legendary Bobby Bowden following the 2009 season.
And now, on Saturday, Alabama plays Florida State for the first time since Fisher took over.
Fisher, who was FSU’s offensive coordinator when the Seminoles beat Saban’s Tide in 2007, says he learned a lot from coaches he has worked with over the years but it’s hard not to notice the similarities between his style and Saban — who, according to AP, is 10-0 in games against his former assistant coaches over the years.
“Nick and I used to talk about that a lot back then,” Fisher told Kanell on Thursday.
“He used to bounce a lot of stuff off me. We were very close. We think, philosophically, very similar.
“There were a lot of things he did with the program that I liked and I picked up, things I wanted to do when I became a head coach.”
The success level, too, has been very Saban-esque in Tallahassee to the chagrin of the rival Hurricanes and Gators.
Florida State has won 78 games since Fisher took over which is second only to Alabama during that span.
Fisher’s teams have won the ACC three times and won the national title in 2014.
The Seminoles are also 12-1 against Miami and Florida under Fisher including a spotless 7-0 record against the Canes.
After Saturday, the Seminoles play host to Louisiana-Monroe in Tallahassee before the Hurricanes come calling in Week 3.
NO. 1 ALABAMA VS. NO. 3 FLORIDA STATE
▪ When, where: Saturday, 8 p.m.; Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta.
▪ TV: ABC-10.
▪ Scouting report: This may be the biggest opening game in college football history as two teams with national championships in two of the past four years square off. Alabama was No. 1 all of last season before losing to Clemson in the national title game; FSU started slow at 3-2 but rallied to beat Miami at Hard Rock Stadium and finished in Miami Gardens at 10-3 by dropping Michigan in the Orange Bowl.