Jimbo Fisher fielded multiple questions this offseason about what sparked Texas A&M’s stellar 2020.
Most observers point toward the Aggies’ Oct. 10 win against Florida. It makes sense. Smarting from a 28-point defeat at Alabama (which came a week after an underwhelming 17-12 win against lowly Vanderbilt), it was unclear where the Aggies were headed.
With the fourth-ranked Gators coming to town, a 1-2 start in Year 3 didn’t resemble what championship-dreaming A&M fans had in mind when Fisher inked his record contract in 2018.
You know the rest. Texas A&M earned its signature win of the Fisher era, a 41-38 triumph against Florida, and won the remainder of its games. The Aggies finished 9-1, just missed the College Football Playoff and recorded their second top-five finish in the polls since joining the SEC.
Quarterback Kellen Mond, too, called that game “a culture-changing win.” But Fisher believes the turning point came a week earlier in Tuscaloosa.
“Even though it was a four-touchdown game, we walked off the field and our players looked me in the eye and said, ‘You know what? We were as good as they were,’” Fisher said.
Come again? After a 52-24 loss?
“I know that sounds crazy,” Fisher acknowledged to hundreds of Aggies during a speaking engagement in May. “But if you go back and watch the film, there were so many self-inflicted wounds. And that’s one thing to learn to be a champion, is you have to learn how not to beat yourself.
“But you also have to have confidence in yourself to be able to compete with people.”
That’s what Fisher believes sparked the Aggies’ best season since Johnny Manziel roamed campus, and the coach spoke this spring with a level of bravado not seen on his annual rubber chicken tour since arriving at Texas A&M. A fan asked him during a stop in Houston, “What’s the key, other than (Nick) Saban retiring, to beating Alabama?” Fisher quipped: “We’re going to beat his ass even when he’s there.”
Fisher hasn’t backed down, and the players have subtly expressed their confidence, too.