Fisher has things to prove at Texas A&M

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Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday during SEC Media Days, "I think when you have those kinds of games in the early part of the season, it makes the summer that much better ... it gets your attention." [Gary Cosby Jr./GateHouse Media Services]

ATLANTA — The three stenographers had blank looks of relief on their faces and charred fingertips where sparks had been flying only seconds before.

They had been in charge of taking down every word said by Jimbo Fisher during his first ever appearance at SEC Media Days.

He was fast, but not furious.

Instead, he spoke of his love for Florida State, the school where he won a national title and left a fan base behind like it was a bad date.

“I have unbelievable memories of Florida State,” he said. “When you leave, is there ever a good way to leave? You try to do it the best you can, but I had no intentions of ever leaving.”

Until he did. His last year at FSU was a disaster and revealed a chasm between Fisher and the administration over money, which Texas A&M prints like cheap T-shirts.

A little more than a month after Fisher dropped the bomb on Tallahassee, FSU President John Thrasher told a political group in Tampa that he no longer has to have his hand on his wallet when he visited the football offices.

So you can see why Fisher, after taking the job in College Station, said it was a “no-brainer.”

You could almost envision the A&M boosters interviewing Fisher while lighting their cigars with $100 bills.

So here he was kicking off SEC Media Days with his rapid-fire verbiage, switching seamlessly from the guy who used to say the ACC was the best conference in the land to this about his new conference:

“It’s the best league in college football. The regular season schedule in that league is second to none.”

So he traded up from a league that has shown marked improvement to the toughest division in college football. You go from Dabo Swinney to Nick Saban and it’s not going to get easier.

“That’s where I grew up in,” he said. “I was at Auburn for six and LSU for seven. Every week is for the national championship because the teams you play have the capabilities of being there.

And whoever can survive that gauntlet of games and come out of there, you know is going to compete.

“And whoever wins the SEC has a chance to win the national championship. You can play with anybody in the country.”

That’s the thing. In a way, Fisher has cashed in financially, but is taking a risk when it comes to his legacy. Here is a coach who is fourth among active coaches in winning percentage, but don’t you feel we’re about to see how good a coach he really is?

He’s taking over for a guy who went 51-26 and was run out of town. Winning isn’t enough when you are spending the kind of money A&M is and their solution was to simply throw more money at “the problem.”

So they threw $75 million at Fisher despite a mediocre final season at FSU. Just another example of Saban making a lot of coaches rich. Either you’re overspending to try to catch Alabama or you’re paying a ridiculous buyout to get rid of a coach because he couldn’t catch him.

At A&M, where everyone is greeted with a “Howdy,” Fisher has already been presented with a national championship plaque by the Aggie chancellor with an open spot for the date it is actually won.

So it’s pretty clear what is expected of Fisher.

Howdy, Jimbo. Here are some cowboy boots and a huge stadium. Now go big or go home.

He was extremely successful at FSU, yet there were those tough-to-explain losses that always drop him down a couple of notches on the “best college football coaches” lists.

But all his new team can see is that national championship trophy he won in 2013.

“Under him, I think it’s possible,” said offensive lineman Erik McCoy. “I was off the wall (when Fisher was named). I was excited. I was more than excited.”

It’s interesting that Fisher ran into the same thing at A&M that Dan Mullen did at Florida. In both cases, they had to start by toughening up their teams. Fisher on Monday denied he ever called his team “soft.”

Minutes later, McCoy said, “He called us soft after every practice.”

Eyes were opened.

“Everyone on the team is excited about him being here,” said defensive lineman Kingsley Keke. “Jimbo Fisher has a proven track record of winning national championships. He’s a great coach. We all love what he’s done so far.”

Everybody loves a coach who hasn’t lost a game. But you have to give Fisher credit for one thing.

If you want to really prove yourself as a coach, you go to the NFL.

Or the SEC West.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

24 COMMENTS

  1. “That’s where I grew up in,” he said.

    Whew. Thank you, A&M, for bringing the intellectual giant that is Jimbo to our conference. I see nothing but good things in store for you. Losing to Fisher regularly ticked me off more than any of the other weaknesses of our recent coaches. Let’s beat this turd an annual basis, shall we?

  2. Dimbo minus Jivazz Winston = mediocre coach. Texas A&M will rue the day they entrusted their future to this low grade con man. Just about the only thing he really learned from Bowen was how to spew lies every time he opens his mouth.

    • Though it may doom me to damnation in the eyes of fellow Gators, but I would submit that Bobby Bowden was about a fine a gentleman as you would ever want to meet, and a helluva football coach on top of that.

      • Things fine gentleman do not do: 1. Have their players stomp all over the logos of rival teams before road games 2. Order their players to hit “to the echo of the whistle” 3. Lie to recruits for years promising them they will start right away.

        • Albert, you’re forgiven — you can’t help yourself.

          But Jaws? Come on. I’ll give you #1 due to my crappy memory for which I do have a doctor’s note, but you’re too good a guy for #2 and #3 unless you provide citations.

  3. I disagree with the commenters who believe Jimbo is going to be easy to beat. He did well at FSU but had a weird ending, who knows, but I think a new start after the situation with his ex-wife is what this was all about, and he should be hell on wheels at A & M. Bama beware, he can beat you.

    • I’d tend to agree. One big difference for Jumbo now is, he’ll have every resource available that he could possibly need. So if he doesn’t succeed, it will all be on him, his coaching, and his leadership. If he needs something to be successful, all he’ll have to do is ask. We’ll find out in 3-4 years how good of a coach Jumbo really is.

    • I actually disagree with that. With the exception of the 2 Winston years, which I’m pretty sure any coach would’ve looked great leading, he consistently underperformed. I mean the guy recruited with the likes of Saban and Meyer, but could never come close to the results they had. For the last few years FSU was a preseason playoff favorite and never came close. He benefited from the fact that his 2 biggest rivals, Miami and UF were both in a downward spiral the moment he stepped into the job. By continuing to beat those 2 programs, it pleased the fans and blinded them to the fact that he couldn’t accomplish anything else. He was consistently getting out coached and beaten by a Clemson team that he regularly out-recruited. The man was easily the most underperforming power 5 coach. It’s pretty pathetic when McElwain wins as many games as him over his first 2 seasons with far less talent. 10 win seasons at FSU is average at best with the talent they had and schedule. Most coaches should just be able to roll out of bed and win 10 games there.

  4. Jimbo didn’t get into a comparable situation from the one he left. He thinks he did. But he didn’t. FSU isn’t really the little brother to UF that we Gators like to think. Sure, UF has more history – State Flagship and all that (and didn’t start life as a woman’s college). But Bobby did the heavy lifting for decades to bring FSU football eye to eye with the Gators. Texas A & M? Different story. Money can’t buy ya’ love. Neither can it buy equal standing with UT. A & M will ALWAYS be the little brother in that State. And not playing the Longhorns anymore doesn’t help. Being in the SEC confers SOME respect nationally. But not in Texas. Unless Jimbo starts beating Saban’s eyes in every year (unlikely), he’s about 3 or 4 years away from jumping back in the ACC (nice little basketball conference that it is) or landing at a PAC 10 school (Arizona St, anyone?).

    • You’re pretty close to nailing the actual dynamics in Texas there, Mark. Jimbo is a good coach, I think we can all agree c that, but he’s not going to turn TAMU around overnight. They don’t have that far to go by any means — but it’s going to be a longer road than he thinks, just the same.

    • I think you’re correct in that UT will always be the Alpha Dog in Texas, especially if they are winning, maybe in spite of it. But, IF Jimbo can turn around A&M’s program and win at a high level and IF they can make it to Atlanta and beyond, I think the school will get plenty of love and respect. There’s lots of money in Texas to go around and I’d imagine A&M gets their share. A&M may never get to UT’s level of respect in the state, BUT…… winning in the SEC, until it changes, is still a heckuva lot more of a big deal than winning in the Big 12.

      And for recruiting purposes, kids love a winner so the same solution awaits A&M and UF…..start winning and respect and recruiting will follow.

      • TAMU will never get the level of respect within Texas that the Longhorns do, no matter what. It’s a Texas thang, pure and simple, for as long as Aggie jokes are told.

        But when they win their first SEC title, and maybe even an NC, all that won’t matter. I’m just saying that it’s going to take a while longer than people expect.

      • Jimbo traded being a big fish in a smallish pond for being just another fish in a really big and deep lake (with some mighty, mighty predators). It’s not impossible for him to win big. And the “pressure” won’t be any tougher than being “the guy who follows The Guy (Bobby)”. It’s just a tougher row to hoe. Much like Brett Bielema leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas. But I will allow that Jimbo’s eyes are wide while BB mostly saw the $. Jimbo KNOWS it won’t be easy. And good on him for having the confidence in himself. But Gator-6 has the right of it. Those Aggie jokes pretty much write themselves.

  5. ” switching seamlessly from the guy who used to say the ACC was the best conference in the land to this about his new conference:

    “It’s the best league in college football. The regular season schedule in that league is second to none.”

    What a clown this Dumbo fisher is. Why the heck would you make such a big deal last year talking up the weak arse ACC, when everyone knows what he said was a bunch of crapola , and now having to admit the obvious. Why even go there in the first place, makes him look like, well, a freaking clown.

    “He was extremely successful at FSU, yet there were those tough-to-explain losses that always drop him down a couple of notches on the “best college football coaches” lists.”

    Losses to weak arse ACC doormats like Wake Forest when you are the pre season ACC favorite and top 3 team, when has Saban lost to Kentucky types? How can you even compare the two. Some posters here say he’s such a good coach and ” watch out Bama” and I think they are drinking the koolaid. The ones that say he’s mediocre and a con man are right, just a matter of time before he bolts to another ACC type weak arse conference