Texas A&M struck gold and landed Jimbo Fisher at the perfect time
As reports swirled about Jimbo Fisher’s uncertain future in Tallahassee, disbelief slowly turned into belief.
The reality that the Florida State coach could possibly leave one of the best programs in the country seemed more and more real — for lack of a better word — as time grew on. At a place where he could comfortably win 10 games every year and occasionally make it to a national championship, where was the urgency to leave? What could possibly make him want to leave that type of situation?
But as this week reminded us all in the coaching profession, timing and relationships are everything. Both of those things, as unlikely as it once seemed, favored Texas A&M.
Perhaps that’s why by the time Fisher’s move to College Station was reported on Friday, it didn’t come as some massive shock. I mean, the chucked Christmas tree told the story.
— Wayne McGahee III (@WayneMcGaheeIII) December 1, 2017
Fisher traded in his Christmas tree for life in the SEC. OK, that’s not exactly the way the deal was structured. Texas A&M is hoping that the only things Fisher kicks to the curb are his Christmas tree and his Florida State gear.
The Aggies signed up to get the whole Jimbo, the one who became one of the elite coaches in college football this decade. They want him to bring the offensive prowess that led the Seminoles to double-digit wins in 6 of 8 seasons. This year, however, marked the first time that Fisher’s squad will miss out on a spot in the top 25 at season’s end. A year that spiraled out of control when Deondre Francois went down against Alabama torpedoed into something that nobody could’ve predicted.
Just 3 months ago, we were debating if Fisher and Nick Saban would get to square off in a national championship rematch. Now, the next time they’ll square off will be as intra-division foes in 2018.
That aspect alone was what made it seem like Fisher would never join the SEC. After all, he was offered the LSU job last year but turned it down. Quite frankly, nobody blamed him. Why would he want to compete with Saban for division titles when he could compete with him for national titles instead?
At the time, it made sense. But with Fisher facing a complete staff overhaul at Florida State even if he stayed, it didn’t make as much sense. He’ll have to do the same thing at Texas A&M, where he’ll be given everything and more by Aggies AD Scott Woodward, whom Fisher worked with back when he was an assistant at LSU.
This was not ultimately about money. Fisher was the 6th-highest paid coach in America at $5.7 million in 2017. Fisher’s departure says more about the relationships that fell apart at Florida State. Fisher reportedly didn’t get along with the Seminole Boosters, Inc., President and CEO Andy Miller. The discontent reportedly stemmed from the boosters’ desire to focus on projects that weren’t football operations.
And call me crazy, but I’d be surprised if 5 regular season wins eased the tension in that relationship.
That’s perhaps the common denominator in all of this. If we’re talking about Florida State competing for a Playoff spot in an ACC Championship, talk of Fisher leaving seems about as crazy as a college program saying “we’re going to get Nick Saban as our next head coach.” You just wouldn’t believe it.
But crazy things happen when you don’t win in college football. Shoot, crazy things happen even when teams do win. Kevin Sumlin was 51-26 and he never posted a losing record during his six seasons in College Station. Yet a guy who had never won any fewer than 8 games was put firmly on the hot seat before the season even started. Who was it that put Sumlin on the hot seat? Woodward, of course.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Woodward. His team avoided national embarrassment by at least winning 7 games — unlike Tennessee — which wasn’t deemed “an improvement.” He then got to fire a guy he didn’t hire (Sumlin) while the guy he always wanted (Fisher) suddenly became more available than he’s been since he stepped foot in Tallahassee.
It’s never that easy. There’s a reason that few Power 5 coaches jump from one big-time program to another, especially ones who have a national championship on their résumés.
The stars aligned perfectly for the Aggies, and they should be thanking their lucky stars that they did.