Every Saturday night, Andy Staples and Ari Wasserman react to the weekend’s slate of games on The Andy Staples Show & Friends. On Mondays, Andy revisits his and Ari’s biggest takeaway from Saturday night’s instant reaction. This week: Jimbo Fisher and his ‘deeds’ to the Texas A&M football program. 

An athletic director greeted me once a few years ago with this: “We’ve lost our minds.”

The topic was whatever mega-contract a football coach had just signed. These things blur together, so I can’t even remember which contract it was. It might have been Kevin Sumlin’s extension at Texas A&M in 2013. It might have been Bret Bielema’s deal at Arkansas.

The deal itself doesn’t matter. What matters is that ADs hadn’t even begun to lose their minds. In the past year, many of that AD’s colleagues have screamed “Hold my beer!” and then done deals with coaches that make everything that came before look downright sane. Across the country, schools have surrendered any leverage they might have had to their football coaches, and a few are already dealing with a fallout that could last for years with no satisfying resolution.

Handing out a fully guaranteed deal for double-digit years is fine and probably even sensible when the coach is Alabama’s Nick Saban. But Saban might be the only coach — I’ll entertain arguments for Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Georgia’s Kirby Smart — who actually deserves the level of security that some schools have passed out recently. Some of the recipients might just as easily languish in mediocrity as compete for a national title.

Jimbo Fisher is in the middle of his fifth season at Texas A&M. Following Saturday night’s 30-24 loss at South Carolina, Fisher’s team is 3-4 this season. He is an offensive guru whose team has yet to score more than 24 points against an FBS opponent in 2022. Fisher is 37-18 in his career at Texas A&M. Sumlin, who was fired after Year 6, was 39-16 in his first 55 games at the school and never finished worse than 7-5 in the regular season. With Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn and LSU remaining on the schedule, 7-5 seems a fairly high bar to clear in 2022. And even though the Aggies’ recruiting rank surged in the class of 2022, the product on the field seems to be regressing. The offensive line seems perpetually young. The receivers have yet to develop. The Aggies are beset by first- and second-year problems in Year 5.


What can the school and the athletic department do about it? Nothing.

No one is firing Fisher. And Fisher doesn’t have to listen to anyone in College Station if he chooses not to listen. Fisher certainly can make changes to improve the program, and he’ll almost certainly try to do that. But everything has to be his idea. He has all the leverage, thanks to a contract extension last season that fully guaranteed him an average of $9.5 million a year through 2031. Note that word “fully,” because it has to do all the lifting.

If Texas A&M officials wanted to fire Fisher without cause after the regular season, they’d owe him an $85,950,000 buyout.

That number effectively makes Fisher the football equivalent of a Supreme Court justice for the next five or six years. You may not like what he’s doing. You may disagree with his philosophy. But he doesn’t have to care because he’s basically untouchable. He doesn’t have to listen to anyone. Not athletic director Ross Bjork. Not chancellor John Sharp.