Why would Jimbo Fisher leave Florida State for Texas A&M?
That was the most frequently asked question as the Aggies were courting Fisher. It’s the biggest shakeup of the 2017-18 college football coaching carousel, considering he is one of just four active FBS coaches with a national championship.
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It was time for a change. That’s the simple answer. Fisher started at Florida State as an offensive coordinator from 2007-09 before taking over as a head coach, and he has been through a lot in 11 seasons.
Fisher needed a fresh start. You could see it with each passing ACC Media Day each summer. In 2014, Fisher was preaching an “attitude of domination.” in 2015, Fisher was defending the program’s reputation. By 2016, Fisher looked worn out. Something else always tugged at the program. Despite an impeccable track record of success on the field, where double-digit victories were given, there was almost drama on the field or off it.
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A remodel after Bobby Bowden retired. A 29-game win streak from 2012-14 that raised expectations back to national-championship-or-else. A controversy with Jameis Winston in 2013 after a sexual assault complaint (in which no charges were filed). Winston drama continued in 2014 with incidents ranging from stolen crab legs to vulgar uttered in the student union. In 2015, quarterback De’Andre Johnson was dismissed after punching a woman in a bar and Dalvin Cook was suspended until misdemeanor battery charges were dropped.
This year, Deondre Francois was injured in the opener against Alabama on Sept. 2. Hurricane Irma followed. Fisher argued with a fan while exiting the field after a 31-28 loss to Louisville. Even now, TMZ is in on a story about kicker Ricky Aguayo and tight end Ryan Izzo, players who won’t be charged after being accused of killing a fraternity turtle. Then, a fan questioned Fisher’s loyalty to the program on the coach’s call-in show Wednesday.
VIDEO: A Florida State fan gets kicked out of Jimbo Fisher’s radio call-in show after asking “where is the loyalty?” amid Texas A&M rumors. #Noles #Gigem pic.twitter.com/yYgfD7QWGY
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) November 30, 2017
“Where’s the loyalty to the program Jimbo?”
Fisher doesn’t have to answer that. He shouldn’t have to answer that. He has given 11 years of loyalty to the program. At some point, enough is enough for all parties involved when it gets to this boiling point.
You could see it. While all that clutter piled up at Florida State, Clemson emerged as the dominant power in the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers are on their way to a third straight ACC championship and have a 34-2 record in the regular season the last three years. The Seminoles are 25-12 in the same stretch. That adds up to nine games, three per season, and it’s a substantial gap when you consider Dabo Swinney isn’t slowing down.
Why would you leave Swinney and run to the SEC West, where Alabama’s Nick Saban waits? Is it all about money? Texas A&M isn’t Florida State — but that’s not to say it can’t be a power on the level of the Seminoles.
Fisher is the Aggies’ fourth coach since R.C. Slocum left in 2002. He’s part of a list that includes Dennis Franchione, Mike Sherman and Kevin Sumlin. He’s the biggest name since Jackie Sherrill took the program over in 1982 after leaving Pitt after three straight 11-1 seasons.
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It’s a big, shiny and expensive hire the Aggies boosters are going to show off to everyone. They’ll prop that up against Texas and Tom Herman, the biggest prize of the last coaching carousel who finished 2017 with a 6-6 record. The SEC West is now the only division with multiple active coaches with a national championship.
Fisher’s fast-talking, big-time recruiting style will be a hit at the outset, and he coached at Auburn under Terry Bowden from 1993-98 and LSU under Saban from 2000-06. Fit won’t be a problem in the SEC, and it shouldn’t be a problem in the state of Texas. Fisher lured five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, a Houston native, to Florida State.
If Fisher can get Florida recruits to come to Texas A&M along with the in-state talent, then this program will be able to compete for championships in the SEC West. There’s a window of opportunity in a division that will have four first-year coaches if you include Ole Miss coach Matt Luke, who removed the interim tag. Fisher can get in the mix with Saban, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and LSU’s Ed Orgeron on the field and recruiting trail.
This is a big win for the Aggies, a Mark Richt-to-Miami kind of move that should pay off.
Florida State? It’ll be fine, too. The program might fill that vacancy with Willie Taggart. That new hire should be able to thrive off what Fisher built there, even if that loyalty won’t be appreciated in its entirety for a few years. Fisher went through a lot, but he won a lot more. He’ll do the same when that process recycles at College Station.