This May Be
A Good Thing
Jimbo Fisher just finished eight seasons with highly recognized achievement as head coach for the Florida State University football program and now he’s moving on to Texas A & M. He’s taking on another head coaching job but this time in a conference that is most unforgiving.
It’s one of those jobs where if you don’t do well, and very quickly, you may as well pack your bags.
Jimbo seemed to do well at Florida State but all that’s in the past now. The big question is how will he do in the future? Will the next stint fare as well for him?
Whatever happens, it won’t be easy. The conference situation alone is difficult enough but that’s just the obvious. Adding more stress to an already difficult situation, Jimbo negotiated the highest head coaching paycheck ever (7.5 mill a year) and that from a school with a mediocre past. Even Gus Malzahn’s new contract is for less (7 mill annually) and the upgrade came only after his team bumped off Alabama and Georgia in the regular season.
That’s not easy to do at any time, under any circumstances, and you can bet your best fan jersey it won’t be repeated by Jimbo in the near future, other than in his dreams. You can also bet TA & M will be expecting no less.
So, the question is this? Is Jimbo crazy or is he one of the best coaches that ever walked planet earth. Important question! Let’s look at the history.
If we go by the numbers, it all sounds good. Jimbo sports many medals on his lapel:
- Win-Loss record: 83-23 in eight years as head coach.
- His number of wins for the first seven years was second only to Nick Saban, who could arguably be called football’s master of organizational and psychological skills.
- Three conference championships.
- One national championship.
- 29 players taken in the NFL draft in a three year period – a modern day collegiate record.
- Three quarterbacks drafted in the first round.
Those numbers represent only his tenure at FSU. He’s been the quarterbacks’ coach and/or offensive coordinator at several high profile schools including LSU and has worked magic with quarterbacks and game plans. He was assistant at LSU when they won the National Championship in 2003.
These are not shabby credentials but how do we read these numbers? What do they really mean? Is he, in fact, that good or is there another way to interpret the data?
Obviously, he’s a talented man. No one would suggest he lacks skills. He can recruit. He understands the game of football as well as any coach. He’s seen it from many perspectives. Even Nick Saban admits Jimbo coordinates offensive play as well as any in the game. And he’s coached some great quarterback talent to stardom in the NFL.
But what I’ve said about Jimbo applies to a long list of coaches at many levels in collegiate ball. Every championship team has coaches who make the same contributions but most of them never wear the head coaches hat or receive unimaginable paychecks.
So, again, we have to ask. Do these numbers represent hardcore evidence that Jimbo is the next great man to hold a position from which many have fallen? Or is it all just circumstantial? Texas A & M is betting on the former. I think we should all be a little nervous for such a historied program.
I have to admit up front that as a die-hard Seminole fan, I questioned Jimbo’s head coaching style from day one. I didn’t say anything before now because I was concerned about objectivity. Replacing Bowden is not an easy thing to do. Bowden fans, like myself, don’t always see straight when making comparisons. It’s not easy warming up to a Bowden replacement.
But that’s how I saw it. Jimbo always seemed to be a nice person – one of the good guys. He seemed to know football well, but I never got the sense that he was in control. His on-field presence was a bit explosive, erratic, angry. He always seemed agitated. It appeared that he was too involved in the play by play.
That was my first impression. That alone made me nervous.
As time passed, there were other issues that seemed to emerge.
I readily admit that, although an avid spectator of football, especially college football, I am not an aficionado. There are nuances to the game I do not and probably will never understand. I admit that Jimbo has far more knowledge and insight into football than I.
But, I doubt seriously that he understands football any better than any other coach with the same number of years playing and working in the field.
So, I would like to put aside the deep nuanced analysis of Jimbo’s efforts at FSU and make a few broad observations that indicate Jimbo may not be as effective as some suggest. [Read more…]