College Station, Texas — Jimbo Fisher wasn’t wearing a white hat when he arrived at Texas A&M on Monday, no signs of a swashbuckling, down-home savior for program desperate to compete with the best in the Southeastern Conference.
But Fisher, a West Virginia native, made sure to profess his love of all things country when he was introduced as the new coach at an event that started with the school’s signature greeting of “howdy,” and ended with him being given a pair of custom, A&M-embroidered Lucchese cowboy boots.
“I’m a tobacco chewer and I wear my boots and I shoot my guns and I throw my fishing rod,” he said before lamenting that he probably shouldn’t admit all that. “And I grew up on horses.”
That spiel is sure to ingratiate him with Aggies fans for now. But in order to stay in their good graces he’ll be expected to bring this school its first national title since 1939.
“Gone are the days when we settle for a good football team,” said John Sharp, the chancellor of the Texas A&M system. “We expect to compete soon for championships.”
The Aggies signed Fisher to a 10-year, $75 million contract to lure him away from Florida State, a place where he captured the 2013 national title and won three Atlantic Coast Conference championships in eight seasons.
He was asked if he believe the Aggies, who haven’t reached double-digit wins since 2012, could compete for a national title in the near future.
“I definitely do or I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “We have to get there. And we have to prepare the players for that situation so when it’s there they can take advantage of that situation.”
Fisher takes over for Kevin Sumlin, who was fired Nov. 26 after the Aggies finished the regular season 7-5 and 4-4 in the SEC. Sumlin, 53, who went 51-26 and led the Aggies to a bowl game in each of his six seasons, is still owed $10 million for the remaining two years on his contract.
Fisher said he had no intention of ever leaving Florida State until Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward contacted his agent last week, and he admitted that he probably wouldn’t have taken the job if not for him. The two worked together 17 years ago at LSU and maintained a close relationship.
“I had no plans on ever leaving there,” Fisher said. “But with the people I’m working with, with the place I’m going and (Woodward) explaining the things to me, as I researched, I thought it was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.”
Florida State officials met with Oregon coach Willie Taggart in Arizona, according to multiple reports.
If Taggart is offered the Florida State job, he is expected to accept the position, with a formal announcement coming today.
... Kevin Sumlin is no longer the leading candidate for the Central Florida coaching job, a source confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel.
Sumlin reportedly was holding out to learn whether the Oregon would open should Taggart accept the vacant Florida State job.
Toledo coach Jason Candle reportedly is on the short list of UCF candidates.
... Herm Edwards was introduced as Arizona State’s coach with an impassioned news conference inside Sun Devil Stadium.
“I’m on the train. I’m on the train and I’m going to ride this train until it stops — it’s not going to stop,” Edwards said.
... New Nebraska coach Scott Frost will bring seven of his assistant coaches from Central Florida with him to Lincoln.
... Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville are Heisman finalists for the second straight year and will be joined in New York for Saturday’s presentation ceremony by Stanford running back Bryce Love.
... Washington State QB Luke Falk won the Burlsworth Award, given annually to the top walk-on.