Jimbo out at College Station
by GEORGE SOMERVILLE – THE TOUCHDOWN SEC CORRESPONDENT
Surprising yet unsurprising news came out of College Station today. Texas A&M finally lost patience with head football coach, Jimbo Fisher and relieved him of his duties.
The news is surprising given the timing which comes on the back of a morale boosting victory over Mississippi State by 51-10. The Aggies are now only two games away from the end of another disappointing season under Fisher.
But, if you have followed this story over what is probably now two seasons, it is unsurprising news, as Jimbo has massively underperformed against expectations with the Aggies. You will recall that Fisher replaced Kevin Sumlin, who raised hopes in College Station but never delivered an SEC or national title.
Jimbo was expected to deliver both. He has delivered neither and the Aggies look no closer today to doing so despite some exceptional recruiting classes.
Aggies Athletic Director, Ross Bjork issued a statement on Sunday saying:
“After very careful analysis of all the components related to Texas A&M football, I recommended to President Welsh and then Chancellor Sharp that a change in the leadership of the program was necessary in order for Aggie football to reach our full potential and they accepted my decision,” Bjork said in the statement. “We appreciate Coach Fisher’s time here at Texas A&M and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Jimbo was gone.
Aggie nation expects
In Sumlin’s first 67 games in charge, his record stood at 45-22. Over the same number of games Fisher’s record stood at 43-24. From the get-go the size and length of Fisher’s head coaching contract at A&M was the talk of the town and put him under pressure.
During his tenure as head coach of the Aggies, Sumlin ended with a 51-26 record and was sacked during the 2017 season despite never having a losing season with the Aggies. However, it was Sumlin’s record in conference games that ultimately made the school’s administration team lose faith in him.
In time for the start of the 2018 season, Fisher arrived to a fanfare and a welcome fit for a King. Fisher arrived in College Station with a proven track record at Florida State where he had guided the Noles to a National Championship in 2013.
The signs had been promising for Fisher who had excelled at recruiting and had out muscled the big guys – Alabama, Georgia and Florida in the Aggies home state of Texas. This prompted many to question just how the Aggies were securing so many 4 and 5 star recruits into College Station with the suggestion that significant sums of money were involved. This led to the now famous spat between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher during the summer of 2022 when Saban called out the Aggies for paying their recruits to arrive in College Station. At that point Jimbo knew he had the other SEC participants rattled. Sadly this did not easily translate into results with 2022 and 2023 being especially disappointing campaigns.
This season the Aggies are 6-4 (4-3 in SEC) at this point in time with Saturday’s win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the bag.
Jimbo Fisher’s record in College Station stands at 45-25, which you will note from previous paragraphs now lags behind Sumlin’s record.
When Fisher joined the Aggies he signed a monster $75m, 10-year contract which at the time sent shockwaves through the SEC and beyond. Subsequently both Kirby Smart and Nick Saban have renegotiated contracts which take them beyond Fisher’s deal but these are on the back of proven National Championship winning records.
Fisher has won the National Championship but 10 years ago, back in 2013, and with another team – Florida State. Jimbo was expected to reproduce that magic in College Station and to make the Aggies National Champions.
However in 2021, Fisher was given a new contract. LSU had parted ways with head coach Ed Oregeron and were chasing Fisher hard. To fight off the Tigers approach, the Aggies offered Jimbo a $95m, 10 year contract. A staggering number for a head coach who had not won an SEC title, let alone a National Championship.
Worse still ,the buyout terms for the contract, should things not work out, were eye-watering. Incredibly, the $95m is all guaranteed.
Yet, despite earning $95m, Fisher has never had a 10-game winning season while with the Aggies.
patience wears thin
BREAKING: Per multiple sources, Texas A&M set to part ways with Jimbo Fisher as early as today.— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) November 12, 2023
Decision was reached at the recommendation of the Athletic Dept/University president during last Thursday's Board of Regents meeting.
Which is where we got to today. With the news that Fisher is out, the Texas A&M administration now need to open the coffers on two fronts. Firstly, Fisher’s contract stipulates that 25% of the payout is payable within 60 days. Currently there is around $75m payable on Jimbo’s contract alone. Adding in a best guess-timate for staff compensation, the Aggies could be looking at a payout in the region of $100m.
The suggestion and rumour among SEC and Aggies circles is that the boosters have been pooling the money together to move on from Fisher for some time. Sources are quoted by multiple outlets that no public or school funds will be used in full or in part to fund the buy out. Texas A&M keeps athletic funds separate from institutional funds with booster monies expected to meet the buy out.
As we know, everything is bigger and better in Texas and so are their buyouts.
The mere mention of Texas is enough to send shivers down Aggies spines. Both Texas and Oklahoma come into the SEC next year. Aggies fans had expected to be years ahead of Texas when they land in the SEC, but truth is they aren’t. And that will worry them greatly.
Next man up?
Of course, in the space of a few paragraphs the Aggies have moved on from Fisher which begs the question – who is next?
The Aggies need that eclectic, magical mix of a name big enough to match Texas size expectations but also a head coach who can deliver on those expectations. It’s all very well seeking out Urban Meyer for example and paying him handsomely for it to become a car crash of Jimbo size proportions. This is not needed.
While it’s still early days the names being touted are somewhat predictable. Lane Kiffin, Oregon’s Dan Lanning, Noles head coach, Mike Norvell and Washington’s Kalen DeBoer.
However, perhaps the more intriguing name early on the board is UTSA’s Jeff Traylor.
Traylor has certainly put the Roadrunners on the map and has done a fantastic job during his time in San Antonio. Traylor is in his fourth season with the Roadrunners and has a 36-13 record. But perhaps more importantly, Traylor is currently recruiting in Texas and knows the in-state talent well. And by all accounts, Traylor is loved – not just well liked, but loved in the high school circuit. And if you wondered just how important this is when working in Texas, just ask Charlie Strong who got off to a bad start with Texas high school coaches, never recovered and didn’t last long in Austin thereafter.
So in many ways Traylor is the right pick. But perhaps he lacks the big name that Aggies fans want. He’s not the sexy pick.
As I write this the clamour on Twitter/ X for Urban Meyer has reached fever pitch.
Some things never change but watch this space. This is a circus which will run on for some time.
A GLASWEGIAN LIVING IN LONDON, GEORGE IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN WHO FOLLOWS THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE. HE PROVIDES CFB CONTENT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN AND IS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.