I've received close to 1,000 tweets and emails about Jimbo Fisher potentially taking another job. Rather than respond to each of them, I'll simply send them this link. They get their answers, and I get page views. Everybody wins.
From where are these rumors coming?
Subscription sites are a main source of this, as their readers clamor (and pay) for information. Publishers feel the need to feed their readers bits of news, even if they have no basis in fact. They throw out as many names as possible to cover every potential candidate. It should also be noted that it is particularly easy to pass on these rumors when the audience is SEC fans, as the SEC superiority complex many of them have causes them to believe their school is much better than it really is.
It should also be noted that Fisher's agent is Jimmy Sexton, perhaps the best in the business at getting his clients raises. Administrators get scared that their coach might actually leave, and they pay up. Even if the rumor is baseless. Here's USA Today's Dan Wolken with more on that.
Whenever I see Jimbo Fisher's name come up in connection to another job, I can't help but think he's Sexton's new Houston Nutt.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 18, 2012
Sexton gets his guy raises. Doesn't matter how ridiculous the rumors. He floats them, people bite.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 18, 2012
Don't hate. If you were good enough at something to need an agent, you'd want the best in the business as well.
Florida State is a very good job
There are a few that are clearly better (Texas, Florida, USC, Notre Dame, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State) and another handful about on par, but there simply aren't many that can offer equal or more than FSU offers for a college football coach.
Florida State has good facilities, and is about to have an indoor practice facility and a freshman dorm. The Seminoles are in a great place for recruiting, being able to claim state school status, while still dipping into Georgia and Alabama. And playing in the ACC, FSU has very little resistance to making the four (soon to be six)-team playoff starting in 2014. Plus, with sanctions about to be dropped on an already reeling Miami program, recruiting in South Florida is about to become even more fruitful.
Below, I have constructed a crude flowchart. Yes, I am terrible with Microsoft paint.
On Auburn and Tennessee, specifically
I'll address these two because they seem to be the most prominent rumors.
To be clear, jobs like Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas are not better jobs than Florida State. They're simply not. They aren't even top-five jobs in the SEC. The barriers to winning at the highest level are fairly substantial at both schools.
At Auburn, the administration is such a mess that people seriously and openly reference a "shadow athletic director." Plus, there's that issue of Nick Saban, the best coach since Bear Bryant, runs the state. Auburn is not 1B to Bama's 1A. It's a clear No. 2. And in the division, it's probably 4th (LSU, Texas A&M).
Yes, there have been rumors that Fisher has rubbed some FSU power brokers the wrong way. And more that he is unhappy with some of them. All of that might be true, but it pales in comparison to the potential nonsense he would have to deal with at Auburn. I don't have any reason to believe that Fisher is so unhappy at FSU that he would leave a prime job like Florida State.
Tennessee is also not the job that Florida State is. The Volunteers' best years under Phillip Fullmer came before Georgia grabbed Mark Richt, and while Steve Spurrier was in the NFL/in his twilight at UF, and South Carolina did not have its act together. It is the third or fourth job in the SEC East. It's potentially very good if Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are down, but if all four are operating at peak efficiency, its deficiencies are in clear relief. Most of that has to do with the lack of in-state talent and the rise of programs in neighboring states from which Tennessee used to pull a lot of talent.
The few reason$
Fisher, like all coaches, is competitive. Coaches are almost always very confident that they can get the job done. Ask coaches of several schools if they expect to land a certain recruit. They'll almost always say yes (off the record, of course, as they cannot discuss recruits with media per NCAA rule). And they're almost always confident going into games, even if they are a sizable underdog. Coaches all want to coach at the highest level, and there's no doubt that the SEC is the highest level in college football. But it would be pretty foolish to leave a job like Florida State solely to coach in the SEC.
That is, unless an SEC school offered life-changing money.
Fisher currently makes about $2.75M, and will make more than that via incentives if he guides his team to an ACC title and BCS bowl victory, as he is currently favored and expected to do.
But what if Auburn or Tennessee came at him with an offer of six year and $33M (5.5M/year)?
It's certainly more than Fisher has proved himself to be worth when considering his results relative to the inherent advantages of the Florida State job.
And it's more than even the most ardent wearers of garnet-and-gold glasses believe FSU could pay, even if Fisher deserved it.
In that case, I don't think anyone could possibly blame Jimbo Fisher for taking the cash.
I also don't believe that Auburn, Tennessee or any other school believes Jimbo Fisher should be paid like Nick Saban.
And absent that happening, I think Fisher is smart enough to know what he has in Tallahassee.