MEET THE NEW BOSS

John Granato: Aggies pay steep price for Jimbo Fisher, and he is saying all the right things. Will it pay off?

Jimbo Fisher is well liked in College Station right now, but he will need to perform. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Jimbo Fisher was in Houston this week at the Touchdown Club annual luncheon. Some 300 Ags filled the hall with howdies and whoops. For most of them it was the first time they got to see their new leader of men up close and personal.

Jimbo did not disappoint. He was at his Jimbo best schmoozing the crowd with stories and enthusiasm for his new football team. The honeymoon is in full bloom. There are only a few coaches out there that have won a national championship and the Aggies have one of them.

Sure there’s a tinge of hesitation. He was 5 and 6 last year and it’s five years now since he won it all. Make no mistake that’s the job here: to win it all. $75 million is a lot of money and that will be a major point of contention if he’s not successful. By the end of 10 years they’ll either build a statue of him or run him out on a railcar.

The latter is more likely. There’s only one national champion every season and it hasn’t been the Aggies in almost 80 years. That’s a long time ago and by the looks of things on the football field they’re still a long ways away from being champs in the SEC West let alone the nation.

No one wants to hear it but it’s going to take baby steps. They’ve got to upgrade the players first. He’s been in this division as the offensive coordinator at LSU. He knows what it’s going to take to win football games here. He skirted the issue when I asked him whether or not this team is talented enough to compete in it.

“I don’t know where everyone else is. We’ve got work to do but we’ve got good players that we can win with and be successful with. There’s no doubt. And the biggest thing is realizing who we are as a team. I think that’s one of the biggest things that we have to realize. Play to our strengths, minimize our weaknesses and develop an identity and continue to recruit and put things in place for the future of the program. There’s a one year plan. There’s a three year plan. There’s a five year plan and there’s a ten year plan. You have to have those in mind to go about what you’re doing.”

In other words be patient. That’s going to be the most difficult part for this fan base. Jimbo joked about not having to worry about looking for a job for ten years but a 10-year $75 million contract is not something you joke about. That’s serious money. It won’t be funny if he’s not making huge strides by year three.

To get there he needs players. They haven’t been good enough to compete with the Bamas and the LSU’s year in and year out. That starts with the big guys. His key to winning is the guys with their hands on the ground. You can’t win in the SEC without them and he’s working tirelessly to get the right ones here. Behind the scenes they say he’s a dogged recruiter and taskmaster.

It’s different in College Station these days. There’s more accountability. He’s installed a unity group of 12 players who will be the go-to guys for any problems that arise. If a guy isn’t playing hard or doing some undesirable things off the field he’ll have his teammates to deal with.

He’s not big on social media.

“I text guys and communicate that way but I don’t need everybody knowing what I think. It’s none of their business. Why you gonna put your life on it? Why you gonna put your thoughts on it? We’ve communicated with the kids quite well. We’ve done quite well everywhere I’ve been recruiting and I’ve explained just be careful what you say and how you handle yourself. And still at the end of the day it’s going to come down to personal relationships.”

One thing you take away from him is that there’s no wasted motion. He’s a fast talker. You better keep up or you’ll miss something. I’m not sure how that’ll play in these parts if he’s not winning 10 games a year. We don’t take kindly to fast talkers.

He’s got a tough job ahead of him but it won’t take much to get the fan base behind him. Beating LSU and Alabama would be a good start. One Bama win got Kevin Sumlin multiple extensions and sparkling new facilities, something Florida St. wouldn’t give Jimbo even after a national championship.

On the other hand if he doesn’t take advantage of the facilities and bring in big time recruits and start beating Bama and LSU it won’t take long for the fan base to turn on him and that 10 year deal will look like an eternity.

Jimbo pumped ‘em up yesterday and left a nice impression for those that had never heard him before. It’s a great start but there’s a long, long way to go.





 

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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