Jimbo Fisher's plan to take over the SEC West
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:17 PM
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- To be clear, Jimbo Fisher is killing it in recruiting. Texas A&M proudly boasts the nation's No. 4 class according to 247Sports.
Well, in 2019.
"We'll end up being one or two," Fisher said Wednesday during the 2018 National Signing Day. "I'm talking about 10 guys that are right [there]. I'm talking about first-, second-round draft pick guys. There's some phenomenal players."
Again, next year.
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:20 PM
But after a few last-minute flips and fast closings, the Aggies finished a respectable 17th, according to the 247Sports Composite. In eight years as a head coach at Florida State, Fisher finished out of the top 10 only once (11th in 2013).
CBS Sports spent Wednesday with the Aggies and their 52-year-old coach. Jimbo is still that ball of energy, that national championship coach who is now also the highest paid coach (total dollars) in history.
The day dawned at Texas A&M with 15 scholarships still to give. That was the most in the nation's top 35 -- at least. During December's Early Signing Period, a large portion of coaches signed 75 percent of their classes.
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:26 PM
The day ended with an official signing class of 22. Quite a recovery. Fisher's hiring was announced Dec. 1, 2017, and made official Dec. 5. After that, he had to move from Tallahassee, Florida, round up an early class and hire a staff. In the case of one staffer, that meant lining up his new linebackers coach who came close to death.
Wednesday, then, was a bit of a recruiting mulligan. Fisher signed only 10 players in the early period. Wednesday marked a back loading of a class that will be charged with winning the SEC West -- for starters.
Both sides hope this relationship lasts forever. His first A&M class was sprinkled with what Fisher said were main needs -- running backs, tight ends and linemen.
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:28 PM
Still, there's nothing to apologize for in 2018. But even one of the country's top coaches endured the typical job-switching transition in recruiting.
Wednesday began a return on that massive investment. The Aggies haven't won a conference title since 1998. Their only national championship came in 1939. If recruiting is a case of, What have you done for me lately?, winning is a case of, What can Jimbo do for the Aggies in seven months?
"We have enough guys that we think we can win SEC championships with and national championships with," Fisher said.
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:33 PM
Jimbo's voice is booming from behind the thick glass walls that shield his office. That's Fisher. He is clearly at home because Jimbo is at home wherever he is. The attire on the second signing day is stylish -- untucked shirt, no socks, cool shoes, all business with a phone stuck to his ear.
"This one's huge right here," Fisher said staring at his device. "He's legit. He'll have a chance to walk across the stage [at the draft]."
Jimbo is now gushing. As the day wears on, he will have beaten his old boss, Nick Saban, and his old employer, LSU, for prospects. Jimbo edged Alabama for four-star defensive tackle Bobby Brown. Tight end Glenn Beal came from LSU territory in New Orleans. Fisher also reached out to the West Coast for defensive end Jeremiah Brown.
"He had 45 in a basketball game the other day," Fisher said of Brown. "Shot six threes, had four dunks. Had 35 the next night, 33 the next night."
Bruce Matthews' son Luke -- a 305-pound offensive lineman -- is the latest legacy from Bruce Matthews' famous football family to become an Aggie.
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:35 PM
"What else did I say, great running backs are all what? They're ugly. [Running backs coach Jay] Graham's ugly."
He's kidding regarding the coach who recruited Corbin. Meanwhile, Corbin is coming, rejecting Jimbo's old employer (Florida State) in the process.
The recruiting process is fickle. Texas A&M was ranked 35th in the 247Sports Composite as of Sunday. On Monday, Fisher got a commit from Leon O'Neal Jr., a four-star safety. The Aggies shot up to No. 23 and finished in the top 20. O'Neal was one of the Aggies' top targets until Kevin Sumlin got fired. Fisher then re-landed O'Neal, who announced his commitment with a rather curious hype video.
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:36 PM
A No. 15 class for this rock star coach isn't bad.
You want to know why a national championship coach who could have won forever at FSU came to College Station? Well, sure, there is the money ($75 million over 10 years). But there is also this:
"This school is utterly amazing. Top 20 public university. Top 10 in jobs coming out. More alumni than anybody. The Aggie network is like a cult: They take care of Aggies. There are more CEOs of more Fortune 500 companies from here than any school in America. Not Harvard, Yale, Princeton, any of that."
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:38 PM
Going from one football giant to another, the same teenage shenanigans still apply. In this digital age, coaches still hang on the stirrings of that fax machine, which transmits the National Letters of Intent. Until they are received, coaches can't utter prospects' names … or they risk the NCAA's wrath.
"We're waiting for the actual fax to come in, but a page is missing," said Mark Robinson, Fisher's director of football operations who came with him from Florida State. "You talk to these guys, they get so excited. They get on Twitter. Then they forget to fax it in."
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:39 PM
Robinson is not unlike hundreds of "DFOs" across the country. He is the chief contact, right-hand man, Fisher's running-around guy. Nothing happens until Robinson runs it through the coach. That includes travel, budget and logistics.
One year at Arkansas, offensive line signee Austin Beck couldn't get a car out of the driveway because of an Oklahoma snowstorm.
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:41 PM
You can cut the tension in the staff room with a menu.
As the coaches gather to watch the announcement of four-star quarterback James Foster, a spirited discussion breaks out regarding the best hamburgers.
Offensive line coach Jim Turner -- a former Marine -- endorses Whataburger.
"And then, McDonald's fries," Jimbo chimes in, adding, "You ever have BurgerFi or Five Guys?"
These guys will break down anything.
Turner finally concludes: "We're not talking about vegetables."
No, we're not. The attention turns to the streaming announcement of Foster. The signal caller turns out to be the only top-tier quarterback in the class. In the current quarterback culture, most of the top signal-callers commit as juniors. Fisher, though, has landed Foster to go along with returners Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel.
Before his announcement at a school assembly, Foster makes sure to jack up the drama. A slickly produced video shows how Foster was run over by a car at age 14.
"I was burned, bruised, but not broken," Foster said. "I was given another chance. I'm not going to get anything for granted."
The video ends with the usual hat dance. Foster tries on Alabama, LSU and Florida State lids before settling on Texas A&M and saying, "Gig 'em."
Posted 09 February 2018 - 12:42 PM
Who knows if Foster is that good, but one of the nation's finest quarterback whisperers has his new guy.
"Boom," yells a staffer.
Posted 12 February 2018 - 12:51 PM
Lots of hype surrounding 2019. If Yeembo can show a Win / Loss improvement during the 2018 season over 2017, then I think we will have a top 5 class as he predicts. Top two? That's big talk!
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