Last year, Florida State signed Jimbo Fisher to a contract extension that would keep him in Tallahassee through the 2024-25 season.
Fisher’s $5.5 million annual salary, which made him one of the top-five highest paid head coaches at the time, was not the most surprising aspect of the deal. But rather, the fact that Florida State extended Fisher for nearly a decade, if some of the options were hit, made it a questionable move.
If Florida State wanted to terminate Fisher following the Seminoles’ disappointing 2017 campaign, the school would have owed him the entirety of the contract, or nearly $40 million. We wrote earlier this year that Florida State could not afford to fire Fisher, even if he did not win a single game in 2017. Or the year after.
But with Fisher leaving Tallahassee to take the Texas A&M job, Florida State is free from his massive and insane contract.
Because Fisher has elected to take another job, Fisher’s buyout is the sum of all monies remaining on the contracts of his assistant coaches not retained by the university. This number is believed to be around $7 million, which Fisher would owe the school within 30 days (A&M will absorb this fee).
With a new head coach on the horizon, Florida State cannot make the same mistake again. Although Fisher’s contract extension came after winning a national title and several conference championships, the fact that the school tied itself to Fisher for nearly a decade removed all leverage from the administration.
If Fisher had stayed in Tallahassee following the disastrous 2017 campaign and elected to make no coaching changes, the school could do nothing. At most, the Boosters could refuse to fund Fisher’s football-only facility, something he had been wanting for some time now.
Of course, whomever Florida State brings in as head coach will be signed to a much shorter deal. But with FSU as a premier destination job in college football, it will not be hard for the administration to find a suitable candidate.