The Alabama Football win over Texas A&M has cast a pall over the Aggies program. For A&M fans, Saturday afternoon was supposed to be a win that would eclipse A&M beating Alabama in 2021. Nick Saban’s Alabama team needed a win for different reasons. For the Aggies, the game was supposed to be about ascendency. For the Crimson Tide, it was not far from being about survival.
The biggest winner on Saturday was Jalen Milroe. The biggest loser, hands down, was Jimbo Fisher. It was strategically sound for Fisher and DJ Durkin to make Milroe win the game through the air. Though the strategy failed, it was not the Aggies’s main problem against Alabama. A&M’s main problem was the Alabama football defense that made the Aggies’ offense look tame.
Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide defensive staff out-coached Fisher and the Aggies’ other ‘supposed-to-be’ Offensive Guru, Bobby Petrino. A&M was not short on talent, even with Max Johnson in for an injured Conner Weigman. The difference was coaching, not just in one game, but in many games for a program that even with talent, fails to consistently deliver offensive potency.
Nick Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher
For a massively large amount of cash, A&M bought in Fisher almost exactly what it had in Kevin Sumlin. During almost six full seasons in College Station, Sumlin’s A&M teams won 66.2% of their games. In five and a half seasons under Fisher, A&M has won 65.2% of its games.
Texas A&M has three wins over Alabama – ever. One was under Gene Stallings. The other two came from Kevin Sumlin and Jimbo Fisher.
Nothing in the two preceding paragraphs can be considered as success or progress for the Texas A&M program.
The intense dust-up that occurred between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher matters little now. Saban was angry and aggressive in calling out the Aggies for buying recruits. An infuriated Fisher denied the accusation and acted like an ass in the process. It is old history now, except if the coaches were ever buddies, they certainly are not now.
The Aggies have three road challenges ahead, against Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU. The chances are high that losing two of those games will be the ‘pay the $76M buyout’ tipping point.
Possibly the tipping point was Saturday. If Jimbo with all the talent on his roster, in his sixth season in College Station could not beat a flawed Alabama team, will he ever be able to beat the Tide again? With Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC next season, Fisher’s recruiting success could also be dented. At best the future suggests the Aggies will struggle to be among the top six SEC teams in roster talent.
The problem for Fisher is as simple as Nick Saban. The only way a 2021 contract for a fully guaranteed $94.95M is justifiable is for Fisher and A&M to supplant Nick Saban and Alabama Football. On Saturday, the painful lesson for Texas A&M power brokers is that Fisher falls far short.
If the Aggies win out or lose just one more game, Fisher might get a seventh season with the Aggies. If so, the decision will be about money and not about optimism – unless it is driven by delusion.