ATLANTA – Texas A&M gave Jimbo Fisher a fully guaranteed $75 million contract last December. Then the school’s chancellor presented him with an undated national championship plaque in February.
There are no sure things in college football. But the Aggies hope they have the real McCoy.
“People are never going to put more pressure on me than I put on myself in this business,” Fisher said.
Fisher’s 2013 national championship at Florida State makes him one of only four active college football head coaches with a national title. That came in his fourth year leading the Seminoles. The talk Wednesday at SEC Media Days made it clear that the Aggies are hoping it’s not a long wait for their own championship.
“That just shows what high hopes we have,” junior running back Trayveon Williams said. “He’s a great guy who knows what it takes to be successful. He’s been successful before. (The plaque) just shows that we’re going to do everything we have to do to go out and win a national championship. We’re just getting ready for when the time is.”
“Hoping we can fill that (plaque) in quickly,” Fisher said.
It won’t take long to find out if this year’s team can live up to those expectations. Texas A&M hosts Clemson in week two and travels to Alabama in week four.
The preparation has already started. Fisher hired Jerry Schmidt from Oklahoma to serve as director of athletic performance. Williams said Fisher set the standard for players at their first team meeting. The grind this spring was more physical than in years past.
“Practices are a lot different,” Williams said. “We don’t have music in practice. Connecting to the music, it’s not saying that one coach is right and one coach is wrong, it’s just his style of play. Practicing, things are a lot tougher. A lot more hitting. You have to be ready during the season, during the week, to be ready on the weekend.”
The former Nick Saban assistant has made a name for himself in eight seasons as a head coach, but still sounds like his old employer at times. Fisher referenced “the process of doing things the right way” when talking about setting the foundation of a program.
He may have risen to prominence in 11 years at Florida State, but his rise as a coach happened in the SEC. He spent 13 years as an assistant at Auburn and LSU, helping Auburn go undefeated in 1993 and helping LSU win a national championship in 2003.
Now he’s facing those same schools on Saturdays and on the recruiting trail. He’s facing Saban in the same division. He’s also facing national championship expectations. The ink is dry on his contract, and his time starts now.
“Hopefully we’ll do it as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.