Jimbo Fisher left for more green, but he’ll find the grass near College Station, Texas, to be far from greener.
Fisher bolted Florida State for more dough, but a few seasons in the SEC West will make him think, “Doh!”
The new Texas A&M coach should be congratulated on his 10-year, $75 million deal. He and his high-powered agent, Jimmy Sexton, put on a clinic about how to be paid. Fisher’s bank account will reflect the reputation he earned with the Seminoles as one of the country’s elite leaders, with a national title as part of his sparkling resume. Aggies athletic director Scott Woodward should be praised for getting his man.
But Fisher will find life at the start of his Texas A&M tenure to be harder than the one he left in the rearview mirror. He will have high-priced toys and the Lone Star State’s rich recruiting soil at his fingertips. However, he’ll break ground on a new foundation instead of enjoying the view from atop the palace he built at Florida State.
Here’s guessing he’ll miss his old perspective in time.
Oh, a breakup with his former life appeared inevitable. By the end, Fisher and Florida State officials seemed to grow tired of one another. All involved resembled members of an old couple bruised by repeated jabs to the ego.
Rightfully, Fisher wanted more for his program to keep pace with Clemson and others in the ACC’s arms race. Rightfully, school leaders became weary of the repeated requests and sought more of a commitment from him.
Still, Fisher sacrificed known challenges – inside his program and beyond – for a situation at Texas A&M that guarantees nothing other than a handsome bump in pay from his former annual salary of $5.7 million.
There’s no price tag on happiness, though.
Think those yearly meetings with Alabama will be pleasant? How about those trips to Tiger Stadium every other season? What about the whispers that will come from impatient boosters if Fisher fails to meet his high-dollar promise?
Fisher’s slate is clean. In his case, that is no good thing.
Sure, Fisher’s situation at Florida State was far from perfect. But he gained well-earned capital. He produced six seasons with a least 10 victories from 2010-17. He won that national championship in 2013. He did enough so only a crazy person would think a dud of a 5-6 record this year would jeopardize his job security.
He gave all that away for … what, exactly? Money? A leap into the unknown?
Texas A&M, after all, is no Alabama. It’s not even LSU.
Since 1995, the Aggies have produced two seasons with double-digit victories, in 1998 and 2012. With this hire, they outkicked their coverage by more than a mile. It was smart of Texas A&M officials to target Fisher and lure him from his kingdom at Florida State. The Aggies should want more than seven- and eight-win seasons, given the program’s facilities and resources. They should strive for more than mediocrity.
But it’s fair to wonder if leaving Florida State was the right move for Fisher.
Perhaps he’ll succeed. Perhaps he’ll deliver national titles. Perhaps he’ll make Texas A&M a beast near the Brazos River and prove doubters wrong.
For now, though, there are questions.
At Florida State, Fisher took over for legendary coach Bobby Bowden. Yes, the program sputtered in Bowden’s final years on the sideline. The Seminoles never won more than nine games in a single season from 2004-09.
But Florida State had a history as a title contender, with Bowden claiming two national championships at the school. Fisher restored the program’s reputation and created his own legacy.
At Texas A&M, Fisher will build from the ground up instead of replacing the program’s roof and walls. This job will require heavy lifting. This job will demand fast results. There’s nothing in the Aggies’ recent past to suggest they’ll become an annual SEC contender soon.
Can Fisher pass this test and produce hardware to match his huge contract? Certainly.
But there’s a chance he’ll miss what he left behind after chasing a greener reward.