Jimbo Fisher finally got the hook after six underwhelming seasons at Texas Tech. It’s not all bad. Fisher may never wind up in the College Football Hall of Fame, but his contract earned him a spot in the Gettin’ Paid Hall of Fame. He can probably start his own university and athletic program with what Texas A&M owes him. Jimbo Fisher University has a nice ring to it. Ironically, A&M is canning Fisher on the heels of his best win in years, a 51-10 shellacking of Mississippi State. Fisher’s $77 million buyout would eclipse the entire amount paid out to buy out coaches in college football last season.
That’s a golden parachute more on par with a Big Tech CEO than a college football coach. Disney’s last CEO received a $23 million payout. Most coaches think of themselves as executives running a nine-figure operation, but even if we entertain those delusions of grandeur, that figure feels extreme.
And for what purpose? Does Texas A&M think they’re going to lure the next Kirby Smart to Lubbock? They found Fisher at his nadir at Florida State, following a 5-6 campaign in 2017. The grace period from their 2013 national title had worn off and Fisher had settled into a soft spot as an excellent recruiter in a basketball-first conference.
The Aggies fetched Fisher to get them over the Big 12’s hump. For a quarter-century, A&M has been a NPC in college football’s most intense football state to Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State.
This is the second time in a decade that Texas A&M has sputtered under the thumb of an offensive genius. Nearly a decade ago, the Aggies were playing with house cash as Kevin Sumlin was letting Johnny Manziel be Johnny while Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray lined up to play in the most exciting offense in the country.
Instead, Allen and Murray, the thin planks the program’s foundation program was built on, both transferred. With Fisher, they put their own money on the line. His byzantine offensive system never translated to modern college football success. Kellen Mond was the peak of Fisher’s tepid offense, but he rarely registered on the national scale.
Fisher never seemed to gain momentum. Their top-ranked recruiting class in 2022 was followed by an 11-11 record over the next two seasons. Prior to the season, Fisher turned to Bobby Petrino to reinvigorate a mediocre Aggies offense that hadn’t finished among the top 30 in total offense.
After a Week 1 performance when they recorded their first 50-point game against an FBS team in regulation in a regular season game since Fisher’s debut season in 2018, they began to settle back into their comfort zone. At their peak, Fisher and Co. could only deliver a top-40 offense and an 8-4 finish. Technically, the 8-4 finish was an improvement, but wealthy donors with money to blow aren’t exactly known for their patience. They were impatient in handing Fisher a $96 million extension after an 11-1 COVID season and the lack of immediate results was enough for his immediate dismissal.
Ultimately, Fisher and Texas A&M’s investments couldn’t get A&M out of the Big 12’s sticky middle because Lubbock needs a miracle worker, not a car salesman. Fisher’s previous experience came at the helm of the Florida State brand and as an offensive coordinator with an SEC powerhouse in LSU. Whomever Texas A&M targets next should be a program architect with experience in building from the bottom up. Given their willingness to do whatever it takes by hiring Petrino, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were willing to debase themselves for another past-his-prime coach in Urban Meyer.
Realistically, someone like Kansas’ Lance Leipold, who build a Division III powerhouse or turned the floundering Buffalo program into a perennial MAC contender, could be just what Texas A&M needs. The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Jeff Traylor is a rising figure in the coaching community who has paid dividends at the UTSA with a 29-8 record over his last three seasons. However, none of that will matter until A&M adjusts their expectations. The reality of the situation is that Texas A&M is a stepping stone job masquerading as a deposed powerhouse. The sooner they come to that realization, the sooner they’ll cease repeating the same mistakes.
Follow DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex