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Texas A&M has fired offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Darrell Dickey after five years with the program, the university announced Monday. The dismissal clears the way for a potential offensive coordinator who will call plays under coach Jimbo Fisher, who enters a critical offseason for the Aggies ahead of 2023.

A coaching veteran, Dickey was hired at Texas A&M as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after helping transform Memphis' offense under former coaches Justin Fuente and Mike Norvell. However, Dickey was demoted to co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach for the Aggies after a disappointing 8-4 season in 2021. James Coley joined Dickey as co-offensive coordinator, while Dameyune Craig took over as quarterbacks coach.

While Dickey and Coley nominally held the titles, Fisher clearly took the lead on play-calling and quarterbacks duties; he has long been referenced as a quarterback whisperer after with three first-round draft selections at the position, including Heisman Trophy winner and national champion Jameis Winston. Dickey was primarily around for input and game-planning purposes. 

However, Fisher's offenses have careened over the past two years after losing quarterback Kellen Mond to the NFL. The Aggies limped to No. 56 in scoring offense in 2021 with quarterback Zach Calzada at the helm before bottoming out at No. 101 at just 22.8 points per game in 2022. The Aggie went 5-7 in 2022 to miss a bowl game for the first time since 2008. Prior to Fisher, Texas A&M had never finished a regular season worse than 7-5 in the SEC era. 

Prior to Texas A&M, Dickey worked at Memphis from 2012-16 and has a lengthy career in the state of Texas. He was the coach at North Texas from 1998-2006 and also had stints as an assistant at UTEP, SMU, Texas State, LSU and Mississippi State

New staff on the way?

Dickey's firing creates a staff opening on offense that is expected to be filled by a new offensive coordinator. After a miserable 2022 season, there will be pressure for Fisher to hand over play-calling responsibilities to a new voice. 

However, there's little clarity of what direction Fisher might go to revamp the offense. Names like TCU's Garrett Riley, North Carolina's Phil Longo or Tennessee's Alex Golesh may sound attractive, but would Fisher completely abandon his offensive philosophy to push tempo? Or, will Fisher try and find an assistant that will embrace his philosophy and mildly modernize his existing structure? 

Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes is a former offensive line coach who would seem to balance Fisher's philosophy with aggressiveness. Miami's Josh Gattis could be looking to get out after a brutal first season in Coral Gables. Former Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst could be an interesting name to consider. However, there's no game plan for anticipating what Fisher could do as he has never given up playcalling duties in his career. 

Critical offseason

Fisher reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class in history last season, but promptly followed it with one of the most embarrassing seasons in Texas A&M history. Four players have entered the transfer portal, though the major contributors have stuck around. Texas A&M still owes Fisher more than $80 million, so there's little chance that he'll be fired. However, major changes must be on the way. 

Offensive coordinator is the first domino to fall, but more could be on the way. The offensive line struggled mightily under first-year assistant Steve Addazio. The receivers and quarterbacks have not developed under Craig and Coley. The defense took a notable step back under controversial defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. Even the 2023 recruiting class sits at a disappointing No. 24 nationally. 

All options should be on the table for Fisher as he enters one of the biggest tests of his career.