BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – NOVEMBER 27: Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Texas A&M Aggies reacts after a loss against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
These Aggies should be bouncing into Saturday’s primetime game against The U like a cigar boat on Biscayne Bay – sleek, big, flashy, and hair-on-fire fast.
Their tans should be perfectly bronzed; their chains 24-karat magic. Saturday night under the lights should be a picture of college football symmetry, with the passing of the baton from what the Miami Hurricanes once were to what the Aggies are now.
They should be Gen Z’s uber-trending, tik-tocking, unapologetic collection of Johnny Footballs, barreling into Kyle Field with five-star talent and nothing but an assortment of wannabe pretenders and cooing girls in their wake.
But somewhere between E. King Gill and Bruno Mars, things went awry. Things went so awry that today the Aggies are nervously twiddling their Gig ‘Em thumbs to the nub and don’t even know which terrible, horrible thing they should most worry about.
The quarterback? The offensive line? The play-calling? The head coach? The culture? The buy-in? The Yell Leader telling stories at Yell Practice?
Here we are at a crucial point in the season, and the Aggies have an extra-large, double-X, Jimbo-sized problem, alright. Losing to Appalachian State last Saturday may have snagged the most headlines, but it was only a symptom of the affliction.
The good news is that getting back to being the team most expected to see is an easy fix. The bad news: The only thing more difficult to swallow than a loss to App State might be Jimbo Fisher swallowing his pride.
He is head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and Czar. That’s just the way he likes it, and that’s just the way it always has been.
It’s about the Man In The Mirror, people, and the lies he may be telling himself.
The mirage is Jimbo thinks all is fine, and his squad merely needs to get back to basics. It’s true; he has recruited and built a team so talented and promising it very well could be and should be national championship-caliber. But it’s much more than basics.
Unless the Man In The Mirror has an honest conversation with himself, it won’t be the year the Aggies expected. And it won’t even come close.
This is not to disparage a man whose touch on many fronts remains golden. Jimbo has not lost his recruiting fastball nor his ability to build and bond a team. His players adore him. His organizational skills and command of teaching technique – especially with quarterbacks – are as great as ever.
He has, however, lost the benefit of the doubt when it comes to calling a game at the highest level. Let’s go back to the most telltale sign that Jimbo’s greatest flaw has been not realizing he should be more CEO than Xs and Os.
Less than a month before the season-opener, Fisher announced a complete overhaul of duties within his offensive coaching staff. One co-offensive coordinator went from working with quarterbacks to working with tight ends. Another co-offensive coordinator went from working with tight ends to receivers. Meanwhile, the receivers coach switched to working with quarterbacks alongside Jimbo.
While that kind of staff movement may not be a chairs-on-the-Titanic thing, it certainly was a sign of an offensive approach taking on water.
Perhaps it was disarray and disagreement over personnel or, perhaps most significantly, play-calling and philosophy. Perhaps it was a sign of conflicting opinions over whether the starting quarterback should be Haynes King, Max Johnson, or 5-star freshman Connor Weigman.
Maybe it was a butting of heads over Fisher’s complex offense being too much for today’s fast-paced game. Maybe the style of play-calling was too dated to fit.
No matter, all the switching of titles and responsibilities didn’t change who ultimately had final say in everything. Jimbo. And maybe, as the season’s first two games showed, he has too much of a say in everything.
Fisher told reporters this week he would consider giving up play-calling duty if he deemed it best for the team. A few years ago, he said a variation of the same thing at Florida State. But ultimately, the only thing he deemed was himself as head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and Czar.
Mirror, mirror on the wall.
It has become quite the anticipated Saturday night in College Station, alright, but for entirely different reasons than anyone thought just a week ago.
The anticipation now is who will be the quarterback. The worry is if Jimbo refuses to swallow his pride and allow coaches more influence on a severely stagnant offense, will it even matter if there’s a new quarterback?
The window-dressing expectation is Jimbo indeed will make a change. And it will be Max Johnson.
As the Aggies say, big Whoop.
This team needs more than window-dressing PR personnel moves. It is more talented than it has shown. It should, in fact, have every bit the style and swagger of all those Miami Hurricanes teams of years gone by, or at least a start toward getting there.
But while Jimbo has done an incredible job changing the complexion, recruiting stature, and expectation of the program, there’s only one thing left to change, and it is the most important thing.
Start with the Man In The Mirror. Ask him to change his ways.