Jimbo Fisher isn't pulling punches anymore, and soon, it'll define his legacy
In 3 minutes and 20 seconds of a post-Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Jimbo Fisher jabbed, hooked, dodged and uppercut. He put his reading glasses on then took them off 4 times. The words “sliced bread,” “Bro Bible,” “Nick Saban” and “joke” all came up. For a man who doesn’t have Twitter or Instagram, Fisher took a swing at basically everything that was said or written on the internet about him signing a historic class in the first NIL recruiting cycle.
That glasses-adjusting, no punches-pulling rant is about to define this chapter of Fisher’s career.
It’s one thing to call out Saban at a booster event and double down on “beating his ass.” It’s another to step up to the microphone after eating punches from everyone in college football with a non-A&M agenda and delivering a haymaker.
— Texas A&M Football (@AggieFootball) February 2, 2022
Fisher did that. Most coaches of a program without a division title in the 21st century wouldn’t dare walk that line. Then again, most programs without a division title in the 21st century aren’t working on a fully guaranteed contract that’s a few million bucks shy of 9 figures.
When Fisher beat Saban and became the first former assistant to do so, it felt like David vs. Goliath stuff, but only because the Aggies were 3-score underdogs after losing consecutive games and starting a backup QB. Usually, David doesn’t have more than 100,000 fans on his side with resources as plentiful as anyone in the sport.
Fisher can kiss any David comps goodbye. He’s probably OK with that.
And on one hand, it makes sense. Beating Alabama and signing the top-rated recruiting class in the 247sports era within a 4-month stretch is enough of a reason for anyone to puff their chest out a little more. Never mind the fact that those feats sandwiched an 8-4 season which saw the Aggies go 2-4 against their own division.
“But it was with a backup quarterback!”
Yes, it was. You know what’s no longer something Fisher can default to if his team isn’t competing for an SEC title into November? “But it was with a backup quarterback!”
Nope. That chapter is officially closed. Fisher just ushered in a new rivalry with Saban and Lane Kiffin.
To be fair, it wasn’t necessarily Fisher who started it. He defended himself against Kiffin saying there should be “a luxury tax” on A&M’s high-priced class while Saban advocated for teams misusing NIL.
“When we start using name, image and likeness for a kid to come to our school, that’s where I draw the line,” Saban said, via ESPN. “Because that’s not why we did this.
“I hear these crazy people on TV who say now you’re doing it above board. We never did it. We never did it. We never cheated to get a player. We never paid players to come to our school.
“And now that’s actually happening. People are making deals with high school players to go to their school.”
By the way, Saban didn’t mention Fisher by name, but it was the A&M coach who went on the Paul Finebaum Show in December and said that there’s always been NIL, and “it just wasn’t legal.”
“There’s always been NIL stuff going on, it just wasn’t legal.”
-Jimbo Fisher on recruiting in the new NIL era pic.twitter.com/ZE7qqweUIY
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) December 15, 2021
In case you forgot, Fisher was an assistant who worked under Saban at LSU. Needless to say, they publicly disagree on how today’s recruits are being signed.
Say what you want about Fisher and whether expectations will ever line up with reality. One thing that’s become undeniable in the last year is that Fisher has no problem addressing the elephant in the room.
Let’s not forget that on multiple occasions, he shot down rumors about being linked to the LSU vacancy. Fisher had no problem flexing about his ranch-es. That’s plural, by the way. That’s what you’d hope a coach in Fisher’s position would do.
You’d hope a coach in Fisher’s position would have adjusted quicker to Zach Calzada’s skill set after the Haynes King injury, but that’s water under the bridge at this point.
What matters is that A&M is now ready for battle. “We ain’t going nowhere,” Fisher said.
If the Aggies aren’t competing for national titles in the very near future, it’ll be because of Fisher. It’s as simple as that. That’s the target he put on himself. And in a way, it’s fitting that Fisher is in this position after he left Florida State amidst frustration that the facilities and spending had fallen behind. We’ve known for years that Fisher would never run into that same problem in College Station.
Wednesday’s clap back confirmed that Fisher is no longer worried about how many laughs he’ll have at that pregame handshake with Saban or really any SEC West coach. He stood up for his program. Now, though, how Fisher acquired his historic class is ancient history. All that matters is what he does with that talent and whether he can put his money where his mouth is.
Fisher is well aware that he entered a heavyweight fight, and depending on who you polled, some might say his back his against the ropes.
The bell has been rung; legacy time begins now.