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Jimbo Fisher leaving for Texas A&M; won’t coach Florida State Saturday

After more than a decade in Tallahassee, Jimbo Fisher is leaving for Texas A&M.

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NCAA Football: Florida State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

To say that the rumors have been swirling for mere weeks is an understatement. For years now, Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher has been connected to different jobs all over the southeast, but this time, the whispers escalated into shouts, and for good reason: Jimbo Fisher is leaving FSU to assume the lead job with the Texas A&M Aggies, sources told Tomahawk Nation.

In addition, after getting his new contract approved by the Texas A&M Board of Regents and giving his resignation to Florida State President John Thrasher, Jimbo Fisher won’t be coaching the Seminoles vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

The school officially confirmed Fisher’s departure at 2:20 p.m., nearly an hour after Tomahawk Nation broke the story.

Thrasher issued the following statement:

Florida State University has one of the premier programs in college football and has had only two head football coaches in the past 40 years.

Today, Jimbo Fisher informed me he has accepted an offer to become the next head football coach at Texas A&M University. Coach Fisher did an exceptional job as both an assistant coach at FSU and in the challenging role of successor to the legendary Bobby Bowden. I believe Texas A&M is getting one of the best coaches in college football. We appreciate all he has done for our program and wish him and his family great success moving forward.

From the moment media reports began to circulate about our position, it became evident the job would attract great interest from a number of elite coaches, and we will move quickly to evaluate candidates from across the nation.

Our fans are the best in the country, loyal and passionate about developing student-athletes who are champions on and off the field. They’ve made Doak Campbell Stadium one of the most thrilling venues in all of college sports along with its storied traditions that represent the spirit and excellence of our distinguished university, athletically and academically. The excitement around Florida State is indisputable, and a tremendous opportunity awaits whoever is chosen as our new head football coach.

Fisher had a massive contract with the Seminoles, but the Aggies were content to spend away on Fisher after also buying out the remainder of previous coach Kevin Sumlin’s contract. Fisher will reportedly get a raise in College Station with what’s been said to be a 10-year contract worth $75 million.

Fisher going back to SEC country is a return to his coaching roots: he began at Samford, in Alabama, before taking gigs at Auburn and LSU. Fisher took over in Tallahassee for Bobby Bowden in 2010 and has a head coaching record of 83-23, including the 2013 national championship. Along the way, Fisher recorded three straight ACC titles, from 2012-2014, and put together a 29-game winning streak that spanned those seasons.

However, Fisher’s message may have been growing stale in Tallahassee. Over the last two seasons, Florida State has been a middling 8-8 in conference play and suffered two of the program’s more disappointing losses in the last two years, a 43-point loss to Louisville last year and a 32-point one at the hands of Boston College in 2017. Perhaps nothing was more telling about a fissure between athletes and coaches than Fisher’s requirement of players to sign notes promising to give maximum effort during the 2016 campaign.

The decision to not have Fisher coach on Saturday also comes in light of a Tomahawk Nation report that some players were planning on transferring should the coach have stayed in Tallahassee.

Still, Fisher’s time in Tallahassee was nothing short of a rousing success, particularly in the big picture. The program he took over was flailing and heading in the wrong direction. Before it dropped to the depths that other premier programs experience in their darkest hours, Fisher breathed new life into FSU football— he not only saved Seminole football from humiliation, he returned it to the mountaintop.

That his message wore off is not necessarily an indictment of Fisher but rather a reality in the world of college football: the vast majority of coaches are primarily change agents who tend to reach the pinnacle of their success sooner rather than later at a given program. Maintaining that elite level is virtually unheard of outside of the sport’s all-time greats. Fisher is many things, but stupid is not one of them. He may well have recognized the need for a change of scenery.

Now, in his second chance as a head coach, he’ll get a chance to flip a culture once again. It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments he makes in his move to College Station. Will practices remain closed? Will his relationship with the press continue to sour? He’ll certainly be granted a honeymoon period, to begin, but time — and his level of success — will determine just how long that lasts. And make no mistake about it: the job of bringing a title to A&M will be far tougher than it was at FSU.

Florida State is a marquee name that Fisher took over from a legend in a down ACC. Texas A&M may have ample money and facilities, but it is nowhere near the program FSU is and has to overcome Texas in its own state and Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in its own division. Texas A&M hasn’t won a conference title since 1998 (then as a member of the Big 12) or a national title since 1939. If Fisher goes all the way with the Aggies, he’ll have truly earned that ample salary bump he’s getting to leave Tallahassee.