Your typical Sunday college football aftermath.
There is Georgia. Jimbo Fisher is out. Both are inevitable.
To no one’s surprise, the Bulldogs of the East Division clinched their spot in the SEC Championship the following month, as did Alabama of the West Division. The top eight teams have settled into their positions, including Texas, which survived a 29-26 upset, but the Longhorns are ahead of the Crimson Tide at No. 7 thanks to a win over Alabama in September.
Fisher was pink-slipped by Texas A&M on Sunday after six mostly pedestrian seasons without appearing in the SEC title game or the College Football Playoff. Despite the Aggies’ strong season in 2020 and an ill-advised omission from the four-team CFP — thanks to Notre Dame — Fisher’s teams have gone 19-15.
Further: Boles: Sarkisian obviously trusts his playmakers, and the no. 7 Texas has many of them.
Further: Golden: At this point, mere wins aren’t enough for Texas’ CFP hopes
It’s clear he didn’t, which is why the Aggies brass did what they could and fired the highest-paid head coach in college football. That would cost the school more than $77.6 million — possibly double the cost of eventually building an attractive alternative — but that’s the cost of doing business in the SEC.
Texas No. 7 (9-1) and no. As No. 14 Oklahoma (8-2) is on the rise and will begin play in the SEC next fall, it should look even easier for management. Those two could meet for the Big 12 Championship in Arlington in December, and A&M will always be measured against those two programs.
A&M certainly looked at signing Ball and didn’t want to go into the 2024 season as an underachieving program with a lame-duck head coach.
So A&M wisely didn’t wait, didn’t put off the obvious decision, and someone could try to bring College Station its second national championship since 1939. It’s been a minute.
Duke head coach Mike Elko had an impressive run as the Aggies defensive coordinator before taking his first head coaching job two years ago; Dan Lanning of Oregon, whose Ducks are in the midst of their own championship drive; And Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith, the survivor of a moribund Beavers program and OSU’s lame-duck demise in the Pac-12, would certainly be a potential recruit.
Smith, 44, is considered a rising star at his alma mater but has no background in this part of the world. He’s only 34-33 but 18-5 over the past two seasons with a current 8-2 record and a win over Oregon last year. He earns $4.85 million, half of what Fisher earned.
In a perfect world, A&M would steal former Aggies tight end Dan Campbell from the NFL, but he’s positioned as the head coach of the fledgling Detroit Lions and is unlikely to show interest at this point.
Another potential candidate is former A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who coached Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and is available after a lackluster production with the Arizona Cardinals and his alma mater, Texas Tech.
Ball’s AP top 25 votes
2. State of Florida
3. Ohio State
9. State of Oregon
13. Penn State
14. Ole Miss
16. Notre Dame
18. Oklahoma State
22. North Carolina
23. James Madison
25. Kansas State
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