Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Florida State Seminoles

Jimbo Fisher wanted the SEC. Be careful what you wish for

Fisher’s Aggies play the clear top three teams in the country and maybe No. 4, too. Good luck, Jimbo.
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher speaks to during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Published Jul. 18
Updated Jul. 18

HOOVER, Ala. —When Jimbo Fisher was restoring Florida State to its status as a national power, he repeated the company line about the ACC’s place in college football’s pecking order.

A year and a half after bolting Tallahassee for Texas A&M, Fisher is still complimentary of his former league.

“The ACC has great ball,” Fisher said this week during SEC media days. “I always said that.”

RELATED: Jimbo Fisher isn’t bothered by criticism he left FSU football as a mess

He probably meant it, too. Maybe he still does.

But even when Fisher was bringing championships to the Seminoles, he had his eye on the SEC. He wanted SEC-caliber facilities. He wanted the same kind of university-wide commitment at FSU that you see at Alabama and Georgia. There’s a reason — aside from negotiating ploys — that his name regularly surfaced for jobs at Auburn and LSU before he eventually decided on A&M.

Fisher always seemed destined to return to the SEC, which he now calls “the best of the best.”

Be careful what you wish for, Jimbo.

Instead of cakewalking through a soft 2019 schedule at FSU, Fisher has one of the toughest schedules in the nation. His Aggies’ first real game is a non-conference matchup at his old ACC rival, Clemson, who has a generational talent at quarterback and a stacked roster that will start the season in the top three nationally.

Fisher’s first game in October is against Alabama, who has its most talented quarterback ever and a star-studded lineup that will also start the season in the top three. And his final game before Thanksgiving is at Georgia, who has a future NFL quarterback, the best offensive line in the game and enough talent elsewhere to start the season somewhere, you guessed it, in the top three.

RELATED: Georgia’s Jake Fromm ready to do more for national title contenders

Oh, and Fisher’s regular-season finale is at LSU, who returns a veteran quarterback, boasts the best secondary in the country and is fourth nationally in preseason advanced metrics projections.

That gauntlet doesn’t even include Auburn (another preseason top-10 team according to analytics like S&P+) and the best team Will Muschamp has had so far at South Carolina.

A&M’s brutal schedule could make the Aggies spoilers in the College Football Playoff conversation. Just don’t tell that to Fisher.

“We don’t want to spoil anything,” Fisher said on stage at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel. “We want to take care of our own.”

I’m sure Fisher and his Aggies do. But A&M could have a top-10 team and still only win eight games — just as Fisher’s predecessor, Kevin Sumlin, did in three of his final four seasons. That’s how it goes in the SEC West.

But Fisher knew that before he took the job. He was an assistant at Auburn from 1993-98 and at LSU from 2000-06, when the SEC was starting its reign. He knew what he was getting into, and he wanted in, anyway.

“They are great programs,” Fisher said, “but Texas A&M can be the same way.”

He’s right. Now that Georgia has awakened under Kirby Smart, A&M is college football’s biggest sleeping giant. Despite their elite facilities, bottomless resources and the recruiting advantages of being in Texas, the Aggies haven’t won a national championship since 1939. It’s been 21 years since they even won their conference.

Fisher can change that. His version of Nick Saban’s Process worked in Tallahassee. It can work in College Station.

Maybe it already is. A&M’s 2019 recruiting class ranked fourth nationally, and Fisher picked up a non-binding oral commitment from ESPN’s top 2020 quarterback, Haynes King, on Wednesday.

MORE SEC MEDIA DAYS COVERAGE: Florida Gators’ Feleipe Franks is already an MLB draftee. What about NFL?

“I definitely think we’re on that track,” Fisher said.

Just don’t expect to see his Aggies arrive this season. Not with that schedule.

Playing against the best of the best means a lot of losses if you’re one of the rest.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Florida State head coach Willie Taggart, right, disagrees with the referee in the first half of his final game with the Seminoles, Nov. 2 against Miami in Tallahassee. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    There are reasons to think quick hooks and mid-season dismissals are the new norm.
  2. Miami quarterback Jarren Williams (15) scrambles as he is rushed by Louisville linebacker Dorian Etheridge (17) during the second half in Miami Gardens. Williams set a school record with six touchdown passes as Miami defeated Louisville 52-27. WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    The Hurricanes quarterback has a field day in a 52-27 win over Louisville.
  3. Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins gets a hug from linebacker Jaleel McRae after his team beat Boston College on Saturday in Boston. BILL SIKES  |  AP
    The Seminoles rally from a first-half deficit, surge ahead, watch the Eagles tie the score, then pull ahead for good in the final two minutes.
  4. In this 1987 file photo, Deion Sanders stands on the field during a game against the Florida Gators in Gainesville. ALLEN DEAN STEELE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Roundtable: Was this just Friday afternoon internet clickbait or an idea worth Seminole consideration?
  5. Quarterback Kyle Trask threw for 257 yards and got the Gators back in the game vs. Georgia in the second half, but Florida lost 24-17. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The last three times Florida lost to Georgia, the Gators lost the next game by double digits.
  6. In this Dec. 2, 2017, file photo, Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins watches the team warm up before a game against Louisiana Monroe in Tallahassee. Now he finds himself as the interim coach again just two seasons later. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    Haggins has been at FSU through the highs of two national titles and the last three years of lows.
  7. Former Florida State football player Deion Sanders, left, joins Head Coach Willie Taggart prior to the start of the spring game action Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee in 2018. COLIN HACKLEY  |  COLIN HACKLEY
    NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported the development Thursday night.
  8. Quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs play their first home game in 49 days at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Can Jameis Winston make the Bucs’ welcome-home game a success?
  9. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) passes in the first half against Florida in Baton Rouge, La., on Oct. 12, 2019. BILL FEIG  |  AP
    Bill Clinton once took a nap on Nick Saban’s couch. No, really.
  10. USF Bulls head coach Charlie Strong on the sideline during the second half of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, October 12, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Here are our picks for this week’s top college football games, including USF-Temple, FSU-Boston College, Florida-Vanderbilt and Alabama-LSU.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement