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.





 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome