Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fisher Making the Wrong Moves

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fisher Making the Wrong Moves

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

This Jimbo Fisher saga no longer needs a definitive outcome to understand this will go down as one of the most bizarre, unprecedented leverage jobs in college football history.

By not publicly announcing he will stay in Tallahassee and not denying interest in the Texas A&M vacancy, the look of Fisher holding FSU hostage isn't a good one. Even worse, he's given FSU fans legitimate reason to question how he could seemingly become so desensitized to a program he restored to national relevance and, in turn, provided him lifetime financial security.

Maybe it's because the breakup, though not official yet, has felt inevitable for at least a week or more. As one longtime FSU employee told me, "Nobody around here is expecting (Fisher) to stay. It just feels different this time."

It's hard to begrudge any football coach an opportunity to work elsewhere if he so chooses. But the way in which Fisher's will-he-stay-or-leave drama has evolved - with recruits now starting to decommit over the uncertainty, with a radio call-in show spectator being removed from the premises for questioning the coach's loyalty, with school officials reportedly pushing him to make a decision now and with all of this taking place during the most disappointing season in FSU history - it's become a three-ring circus.

Much of it is Fisher's fault because of his propensity to allow rumors about him leaving to have an unreasonably long shelf life. Whether it's Auburn, Texas, LSU or Texas A&M, he seems to like the attention and the potential to leverage better facilities out of FSU, certainly enough to live with the downside of a public flirtation making him look selfish and ungrateful.

But more puzzling than anything else about the Jimbo saga is this: How could one of the nation's highest-paid and successful coaches allow what had been a fairly symbiotic relationship with FSU to deteriorate so quickly? Fisher leaving for Texas A&M now is like a couple divorcing when a decade-long marriage hits its first rough patch.

The idea a national championship coach would sever ties with the school that gave him a raise each of the last four years, plus guaranteed him $44.4 million through 2024 by extending him after last season, is hard to fathom even in today's give-me-what-I-want coaching culture. Especially leaving for a school, Texas A&M, where the resources and facilities are always a lot better than the football win percentage.

The Aggies' deep pockets - reports are Fisher's salary would jump from $5.7 million annually to $7.5 million - and the whole 12th Man thing is an appealing package. But with A&M now battling Alabama, LSU and Auburn for SEC West supremacy every year, logic dictates getting to the College Football Playoff will be significantly harder for Fisher than staying in Tallahassee. …

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