Texas A&M fires Jimbo Fisher: Will cost university a lot more than $75 million


Texas A&M has fired coach Jimbo Fisher, ending his six-season tenure leading the Aggies, the university announced. University regents reached a decision during an executive session on Thursday ahead of Texas A&M's Week 11 win over Mississippi State, according to TexAgs.


"After very careful analysis of all the components related to Texas A&M football, I recommended to President [Mark] Welsh and then Chancellor [John] 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," said athletic director Ross Bjork in a statement. "We appreciate Coach Fisher's time here at Texas A&M and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Aggies associate head coach Elijah Robinson will serve as the team's interim coach for the remainder of the season.

Fisher is owed north of $75 million in a buyout stemming from a blockbuster, fully guaranteed $95 million contract extension signed in 2021. That deal followed an initial 10-year, $75 million agreement that brought Fisher to Texas A&M from Florida State.

Fisher becomes the first Power Five coach dismissed this season due to performance. Michigan State fired Mel Tucker in September amid a sexual misconduct investigation. Tucker, like Fisher, recently received a $95 million contract extension. By firing Tucker for cause, however, Michigan State can avoid nearly $80 million still owed on the deal, which runs through 2031. 

Fisher never met expectations

Hired away from the Seminoles at the end of the 2017 season, Fisher had a national championship pedigree and was expected to bring similar success to a program with more than enough resources available to be a power player in college football. However, Fisher's time with the Aggies has been wildly disappointing outside of a 9-1 campaign during the COVID-19-impacted 2020 season. Texas A&M entered 2023 coming off a 5-7 campaign that forced Fisher to yield play calling duties to first-year offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino. 

The Aggies sit 6-4 (4-3 in SEC) in Fisher's sixth season. Notably, Fisher's 45-25 overall record (.643) is worse than that of his predecessor, Kevin Sumlin, who was fired with a 51-26 record (.662). Fisher's Aggies have been underwhelming in SEC play as well. His 26-21 mark against conference opponents includes a 1-5 record against Alabama, the school Fisher was hired to topple in the SEC West.

Since Fisher signed the extension in 2021, Texas A&M has gone 10-13 against SEC opponents and 12-14 against Power Five teams. Certainly not the production that TAMU expects from one of the highest-paid coaches in the game. 

The Aggies typically performed well against the teams they were expected to beat but struggled to punch up. Underdogs in 19 games during Fisher's tenure, Texas A&M went 3-16 in those contests -- one of the 10 worst winning percentages in such games among Power Five programs since 2018.

There is also the matter of the Aggies offense, or lack thereof. Fisher helped mold quarterback Jameis Winston into a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick who led Florida State to a national title in 2013, but the offensive prowess Texas A&M believed it was bringing to College Station has not been on display often enough.

Following a 51-point outburst against Mississippi State on Saturday, the Aggies are averaging 30 points per game in SEC play. That stands out because it's the first time they've averaged at least 30 points per game against conference opponents since 2020. Texas A&M has averaged 28.0 points per game since Fisher arrived, sixth in the league (14 points per game behind Alabama).

Recruiting success only part of the job

Fisher did accomplish what the school hoped for on the recruiting trail, however. He routinely signed top-10 classes and even had the No. 1 class in 2022 -- ranked as the best all-time in the 247Sports team rankings. But acquiring the talent is one thing; developing that talent into a team capable of winning the SEC and competing for national titles is another. Fisher has failed to catch the likes of Alabama's Nick Saban and Georgia's Kirby Smart in that department.

In fact, Fisher on Saturday became the first coach to haul in a No. 1-ranked recruiting class since 247Sports began to be fired from his position. (Urban Meyer retired at Florida, and both Saban and Smart remain active at their respective programs.)

Why now?

With Oklahoma and Texas set to join an expanded SEC next season, the path to the conference title game and a College Football Playoff berth -- even in an expanded field -- will become even more difficult. Texas A&M will also no longer be able to claim it is the lone SEC program in the Lone Star State while on the recruiting trail.

Perhaps Texas A&M fears not making a move now will lead to it falling further behind in the SEC, leaving the next coach with an even more difficult challenge.

$75 million just the tip of the iceberg

Among the reasons Texas A&M has been so hesitant to fire Fisher is that buyout, which is expected to exceed $75 million for the coach alone. But that's just the start of the Aggies needing to open their pockets. Members of Fisher's staff have their own buyouts. Entrenched coaches at top programs who Texas A&M will likely pursue may have their own buyouts that will need to be financed. There's also the potential for significant changes up and down the support staff. And then there's the entire set of new contracts that must be signed for the new coach and their staff.

In the end, the $75 million is just the starting point for Texas A&M as it seeks to untangle itself from Fisher's leadership.

Who's next?

Duke coach Mike Elko is the definitive No. 1 option to replace Fisher at Texas A&M, according to Dennis Dodd. But he's hardly the lone active Power Five coach who the Aggies will likely consider for the vacancy. Among those Texas A&M coaching candidates are College Football Playoff contenders and coaches that fit a more exciting offensive profile than what Fisher ultimately brought to the table.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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