Florida State's season has been a major disappointment, so it says a lot about Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher that he's still at the center of coaching carousel chatter with the silly season getting underway.
Multiple reports over the past week, including those from ESPN, USA Today and Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle, have mentioned Fisher's name with the Texas A&M job -- which, obviously, is still occupied by Kevin Sumlin.
Though that may be the case today, it would appear Sumlin is as good as gone. The Aggies are 6-4, have been throttled in their last two conference games and may not finish above .500 in SEC play for the fifth straight year. While it would be interesting to see what A&M would do if Sumlin did win out against Ole Miss and LSU, the sheer number of leaks make it clear there's force behind the desire to move on from Sumlin.
It's too early to officially announce a leader in the clubhouse to replace a guy who's still employed, but if there is one, it sounds like Fisher. And why not? He won a national championship in 2013 and is one of four active coaches to have won it all. He did an underrated job squeezing 10 wins out of a team with major offensive problems in 2015 and has a 78 percent winning percentage even with this year's 3-6 team.
Texas A&M is a great job. It has enviable financial backing, passionate fans, top-notch facilities, a fertile (albeit heavily mined) recruiting ground from which to pluck -- Fisher is a tremendous recruiter -- and it resides in a conference flush with cash. There aren't many coaches who can raise the ceiling of A&M's perpetually untapped potential, but Fisher would be one of them with everything it offers. Shooting for the stars makes sense.
But therein also lies an important point: Most, if not all, of the reported interest at this time is coming from the greater College Station area. The real question is if A&M decides to move on from Sumlin, would Fisher be interested? If so, would he take the job?
There are a lot of factors at play, so let's get a few things out in the open. Fisher's buyout if he were to be fired is just north of $39.3 million, per USA Today's coaching salary database -- but that falls to, at most, about $7 million if he leaves. The exact number is dependent on the job status of his assistants. The point is he has tremendous job security if things go wrong and some wiggle room if he wants out.
So why would he want out? There's no clear indication yet that he does. Florida State has invested a lot in Fisher, and the return has unarguably been worth it. Even in the wake of this year's face plant, there's no widespread indication from the school or the fan base -- Clemson's "commitment to football" through facilities, but as anyone in this business knows, that's an ongoing arms race in which there is no permanent winner.-- of a mounting frustration in him, nor should there be. Fisher did ruffle some feathers earlier this month when he mentioned
Ultimately, Fisher is in a place where he can win at the highest level. He already has because Florida State is also a great job.
There's Fisher's family situation to consider, too. As explained by USA Today's Dan Wolken, "Fisher and his ex-wife Candi divorced in December 2015, and their youngest son Ethan battles Fanconi anemia, a rare blood disorder. In previous discussions, staying close to his children has been a factor in Fisher's thinking about other jobs."
Still, Fisher's name comes up about this time every year. Last season, he was heavily connected to the opening at LSU, where he previously served as an offensive coordinator from 2000-06. He's also acknowledged to having been courted by NFL teams in the past. Fisher's second home in the coaching rumor mill is one of the perks of having Jimmy Sexton as your agent, but Fisher has been candid in the past that he'll at least listen to a good offer. (Who amongst us wouldn't?) Football Scoop noted on Tuesday that Fisher would do just that if Tennessee came calling.
What this comes down to is timing as timing is everything in coaching hires. Fisher has been at Florida State as an assistant and head coach for 11 seasons. The days of staying at the same job for much longer are ending with the likes of Bob Stoops. It's incredibly hard to win at the same place for a long time. Things get stale. In fact, that's already starting to happen on an assistant level with Fisher and FSU, and it's shown up in poor player development in certain spots, which then shows up in recruiting.
Would a change of scenery be a good thing for Fisher? I'm of the belief that a change of scenery is good for people in all aspects of their lives. A&M would offer a lot of positives for Fisher if it pursued him and he decided to go down that route. In return, Fisher's track record suggests he'd thrive there.
We're not there yet, and we may not even get close. All of this might be a whole lotta nothing. But if we do get there, it will be arguably the most fascinating coaching acquisition of the year not just because of the marriage but due to how it will change the entire college coaching landscape.