It's a do-or-die season for Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, with the former Florida State coach firmly on the hot seat heading into 2023.
In their first year in the SEC back in 2012, the Texas A&M Aggies went 11-2 (6-2 in conference play), beating Alabama and winning the Cotton Bowl. However, aside from 2020, that success has yet to be seen as Texas A&M has only had two seasons with a winning record in conference play. The Aggies' immediate success was led by former head coach Kevin Sumlin, but after three straight seasons of eight or fewer wins and three straight bowl losses, Sumlin was let go and Jimbo Fisher was brought in to turn things around.
Fisher enters his sixth season with the Aggies, the same amount of tenure Sumlin served before being let go for his successor. Sumlin went 51-26 with a 25-23 conference record, and while Fisher would need to bomb in conference play to have a worse conference record, he would need 12 wins this season to match his predecessor, or else he could find himself with a new program in 2024. Fisher was, and is, considered to be a better coach, but he has provided the same performance as Sumlin except for having a 10-win season.
Fisher has had his moments though, dominating on the recruitment front and picking up some major wins over Alabama and LSU along the way. He has not maintained consistent success, however. Due to a COVID-shortened season in 2020, the Aggies' 9-1 record was not enough to get them a conference title or a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Fisher and the Aggies, just two years removed from that one-loss season, are coming off a losing season, something that has not occurred since 2009, and the seat is flaming for Fisher, but how hot is it? And what exactly does he need to do to keep himself in Aggieland?
Hot Seat Gets Hotter
If Fisher and the Aggies follow up their 5-7 season with one that is similar or even worse in 2023, Fisher will likely be on his way out of College Station. The recruiting classes have been great, but that talent has not transferred over into wins, conference titles or playoff appearances. You could also potentially see Texas A&M let go of Fisher without a 10-win season and/or a conference title appearance in hand.
How Jimbo Saves His Job
The Aggies have a non-conference opponent in the Miami Hurricanes in their second game of the season, and winning on the road would be a great start for Fisher. Luckily for the Aggies, their conference schedule has them hosting Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State, with their toughest road games being against Tennessee and LSU. A&M is going to have to avoid slip-ups against wild card teams like Arkansas, Ole Miss and South Carolina. They'll hope to pick up two wins at home against Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State and grab at least one win on the road over the Vols or the Tigers. This would give A&M, at worst, a 9-3 record, keeping Jimbo alive. Easier said than done.
Jimbo has not met expectations since becoming head coach of Texas A&M, but it is going to take a lot to see Fisher gone come December. Part of that reasoning is the expansion of the SEC next year with the additions of Oklahoma and the Aggies in-state rival, the Texas Longhorns. The Aggies and Longhorns have not played in their historic rival game in over a decade, and this matchup has a lot on the line. The last thing Texas A&M would want is to enter that first game with a new head coach and lose to the Longhorns.
Jimbo Fisher's seat is hot, but there are plenty of opportunities to put out the flame. Can Fisher keep his position in Aggieland or will he find himself with another team or on TV next fall? We'll start to find out when Texas A&M opens the season with New Mexico on Saturday.
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