Friday afternoon, we learned that Texas A&M will hire Jimbo Fisher away from Florida State as it’s new head coach. A formal announcement at a press conference is expected to take place on Monday morning. The Aggies will make Fisher the second highest paid coach in college football behind Alabama’s Nick Saban. Let’s take a closer look at Jimbo Fisher and what this means for Texas A&M.
First off, what is it about A&M that makes Fisher want to jump ship from one of the most successful and renowned programs in College Football? It actually has more to do with Fisher’s relationship with Florida State than A&M’s allure. Jimbo Fisher has recently expressed frustrations with Florida State’s lagging facilities and the administration’s unwillingness to upgrade. There’s also some speculation about FSU’s reluctance to cough up the cash when it comes to bringing in top assistant coaches and coordinators. A&M has shown that it won’t hesitate to open up their wallet to upgrade facilities and pay top flight salaries for coaches and coordinators. College Football is a business, and money talks. Thus, a seemingly easy choice for Fisher to head to College Station.
If you primarily watch SEC football, you probably haven’t had many opportunities to get familiar with Jimbo Fisher. Here’s a little bit about his background:
- Fisher has experience in the SEC. He coached at Auburn as an assistant in the 90’s and at LSU under Nick Saban in the early 2000’s.
- He took over for legend Bobby Bowden in 2010 as Head Coach at Florida State.
- Has an 83-23 record as a Head Coach
- Holds 3 ACC Titles and 1 National Championship (2013)
- Has double digit wins 6 out of 8 seasons at FSU
Coach Fisher’s offenses resemble more of a pro-style offense than the trendy spread formations that have become popular across college football. His QB’s often operate from under center instead of the shotgun. But most of all, Fisher’s offenses are known for their power running game. On the other end, Fisher’s defenses have typically ranked in the top 25 in total defense and occasionally rank in the top 10. The prospects of bringing both Fisher’s offense and defense to College Station has to be exciting for Aggies that long for the good ol’ days of running the ball and playing shut-down defense with the Wrecking Crew.
In addition to Fisher’s on-field strategy, one thing that must have appealed to Aggie’s “Big Cigars” was Jimbo’s noted success on the recruiting trail. FSU consistently pulled in Top 10 recruiting classes every year during Fisher’s tenure. Kevin Sumlin had a reputation as a great recruiter, but Sumlin was only able to pull in one top 10 recruiting class in his time at A&M. So it seems the Aggies are hoping they have an upgrade in the recruiting check box.
So while it may seem like the Aggies have covered all the bases with this hire, there are some concerns that keep this from being a slam dunk. The primary concern has to be Florida State’s epic collapse this season. Fisher’s team has limped to a 5-6 record with one game remaining against Louisiana-Monroe to try to become bowl eligible. All of this coming after FSU started the season ranked number 3 in the nation. In fact, Fisher’s record against the ACC over his last 20 games is 10-10. That’s not the upward trajectory you look for in a new coach.
Is this an upgrade for the Aggies at Head Coach? Based on past performance, I’d say yes. Is this a coup on par with pulling Urban Meyer out of retirement or Nick Saban back from the NFL ranks? We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out over the next 2-3 years. I have to give credit to the A&M administration for luring in the big fish instead of settling for an up-and-coming young coach that hasn’t proven his worth on the big stage. Fisher can at least claim he’s been there and done that before. Winning big at A&M (and the SEC for that matter) is going to be a challenge like he’s never faced.
In the end, it seems the Aggies grew tired of paying a coach 5 million per year to produce just 8+ wins each season. Yet, here we are paying a coach 7.5 million a year that just went 5-6. I’m hoping this isn’t just the start of the latest Aggie joke. Fisher isn’t going to be able to waltz into the SEC and win a championship year one. He’s going to have to get his offense and defense installed with his brand of player. The type of recruit Fisher will have at his disposal comes from the finesse offensive schemes and bend-then-break defenses they’re playing at Texas High Schools right now. Fisher is going to have to teach a bunch of kids from Texas how to tackle and how to be physical on offense. What will the perception be around the nation if A&M goes 8-4 in Fisher’s first season? What if he’s worse? Those that were in favor of firing Kevin Sumlin will say: “At least we’re trying.” The Aggies have pushed all their chips into the center of the table with this hire and are strutting around the room with their chest puffed out. In the next few years we’ll see if the Aggies have hit the jackpot, or have to back away from the college football poker table in shame.