The t’s on the contract were all crossed, and all the i’s were dotted.
Even the one that’s in the word “win,” which Jimbo Fisher was sure to point out at his introductory press conference Monday after he first uttered the obligatory coachese that there’s no i in team.
There’s also an i in Jimbo, and the eyes of Aggieland will be hopefully concentrated on their dynamic new head coach whose likeness already graces the three videoboards at Kyle Field. And there’d better be a whole lot of wins in Fisher, too, if he hopes to validate his enormous 10-year, $75 million salary.
The contract’s signed. It’s fully guaranteed, which is why the really fast-talking Fisher could probably buy Blue Bell and the Dixie Chicken and half of College Station and still have plenty left over.
Before an audience of more than 300, Fisher tried on his new maroon coat. Trust me, it wasn’t a rush order. They were locked in on from the get-go. Size 42, for the record.
After his 20-minute address Monday in the optimistically named Hall of Champions inside Kyle Field, Fisher was presented with custom-made cowboy boots with Texas A&M emblazoned on the front. “I’m a boots guy,” he cracked.
As the former Florida State coach quipped to a dozen writers in his final line of a private Q&A session, he’s a card-carrying tobacco-chewing, boots-wearing, gun-shooting, fishing rod-toting country boy who said he grew up on horses. “That’s a lot of bad things to admit,” he said.
Not in this state, Jimbo. All he left out was chili-eating and George Strait-listening and he’d be a diehard Texan before he coaches his first game against Northwestern State next Sept. 1 at Kyle Field and then plays Clemson at home and Alabama on the road in two of his first four games.
Told he’d be facing those two College Football Playoff semifinalists next September, Fisher chuckled and said, “I played ‘em both this year.”
This West Virginian may be a de facto Texan even though he’d only set foot in College Station once before, for a coaching clinic during his LSU days. He seems like a terrific fit here for a variety of reasons.
He’s won a national title.
He’s coached 13 seasons in the SEC at LSU and Auburn and knows the lay of the land in that physical league that requires grownups on the defensive line.
He’s not afraid of Nick Saban and used to coach with him. “If you don’t like competition,” he said, “you’re in the wrong business.”
He may stoutly defend the potency of his former conference, the ACC, but he knows the SEC just became the first conference in CFP history to place two teams in the Final Four. That makes jumping to the SEC a benefit every bit as much as it is a burden.
As athletic director Scott Woodward said, “To get a quality coach from a very stable place is a heavy lift.” He did some heavy lifting in a very seamless search, but it took a lot of zeroes in that contract. A&M almost seems delighted in how much it did spend.
Fisher came across very dry and straightlaced during the press conference but loosens up considerably in a smaller room. He showed off his keen wit — he said he enjoys the media, but reminded it is “your ability to get information and my ability not to give it sometimes” — but spoke with confidence and boldness. Just not quite the same boldness of A&M school officials like chancellor John Sharp, who when asked for the Plan B candidate told me, “We don’t do Plan B’s anymore at A&M. The best or nothing.”
University president Michael Young was in lockstep with Sharp. On a backup candidate, Young said, “There is no No. 2 at Texas A&M. We don’t ever go to No. 2. We start at No. 1 and we always get No. 1.”
He went on.
When I asked if the rest of the SEC should be nervous about the onrushing Aggies, Young said, “We’re hoping. I was going to kick a few of those (other decorative SEC) helmets off the stage, but I’m not that tacky.”
The SEC nervous? Doubtful. Respectful? Certainly. Wary? They’d better be. I’ll be shocked if Fisher doesn’t elevate the Aggies in a profound way and do it in short order.
OK, so just when will the Aggies celebrate their first national championship since 1939?
For the record, the 52-year-old Fisher said he’s not a patient man. He’s in a hurry. So is the school that hired him to win a national title in this century. But I’m guessing not before he turns 54.
Asked if he needs a national crown to validate his humongous contract, Fisher said, “I don’t know about that, but I want to.”
Most Aggies would settle for an SEC championship for starters, especially since they haven’t won one of any kind since they last claimed a conference crown in 1998 when they won the Big 12.
Fisher smartly declined to attach a date to his personal timetable. He’s barely had a chance to evaluate the Aggie talent he is inheriting but did say — unlike his counterpart at Texas — he will study and break down the tape of every A&M game this season.
“He expects championships,” Woodward said, “and he expects to get it done in a hurry.”
Woodward’s no longer nervous. He was and didn’t feel secure about landing Fisher until “he got on the plane. I was a nervous wreck. I’m one of those guys who thinks it’s not over until the fat lady sings.”
Or the fat contract’s signed.
JIMBO FISHER: FYI
Overall record: 83-23
Bowl record: 5-2
Coaching tree: Bobby Bowden, Nick Saban, Les Miles, Terry Bowden
1991-92: Samford (off. coordinator)
1993-98: Auburn (QBs)
1999: Cincinnati (off. coordinator)
2000-06: LSU (off. coordinator)
2007-09: Florida State (off. coordinator)
2010-17: Florida State (head coach)
Did you know: Fisher led Florida State, led by quarterback Jameis Winston, to the 2013 national championship. But he also won a national championship in 2003 as the offensive coordinator at LSU. … His career winning percentage at Florida State is .783, the best in school history and slightly ahead of Bobby Bowden’s mark (.756). … He led the Seminoles to three ACC titles (2012-14) and four ACC division titles. … He was a college quarterback for Salem College in the mid-1980s, playing for Terry Bowden — Bobby Bowden’s son — and then transferred to Samford for his final season, following his coach. He played one season in the Arena Football League (the Chicago Bruisers, in 1988) before becoming a graduate assistant for Bowden back at Samford. … Fisher’s real name is John James.
TEXAS A&M’S 2018 SCHEDULE
Just because Fisher has left Florida State doesn’t mean he’s saying goodbye to the Clemson Tigers — who will be his second opponent in his debut season at Texas A&M. The Aggies will have four high-profile games — Clemson and LSU at home, Alabama and Auburn on the road:
Sept. 1: Northwestern State
Sept. 8: Clemson
Sept. 15: Louisiana Monroe
Sept. 22: at Alabama
Sept. 29: Arkansas (Arlington)
Oct. 6: Kentucky
Oct. 13: at South Carolina
Oct. 27: at Mississippi State
Nov. 3: at Auburn
Nov. 10: Ole Miss
Nov. 17: Alabama-Birmingham
Nov. 24: LSU
RECRUITING: TAMU VS. FSU
The 2018 recruiting class that Jimbo Fisher is inheriting from Kevin Sumlin is currently ranked 12th in the country, with 15 pledges. Florida State’s class, which has suffered seven decommitments since Nov. 11 (and six in the last week), is currently rated 32nd. That’s right behind No. 31 Baylor.
The Aggies’ current class is rated fourth in the SEC (No. 5 Georgia, No. 9 Auburn, No. 10 Florida) by 247Sports’ composite rankings. One player — Houston Cypress Springs safety Leon O’Neal Jr. — has decommitted since Sumlin’s firing.