Fisher fired by Texas A&M, to get record buyout

Texas A&M fired coach Jimbo Fisher on Sunday morning, a move that resets the paradigm for coaching buyouts and opens up one of the country’s most tantalizing jobs.

The move is expected to cost the school more than $76 million to buy out Fisher’s deal, which is nearly triple the highest known coaching contract buyouts at a public school.

According to the terms of the contract, Texas A&M will owe Fisher $19.2 million within 60 days and then pay him $7.2 annually through 2031. There is no offset or mitigation on those payments, and the annual payments start 120 days after termination.

“After very careful analysis of all the components related to Texas A&M football, I recommended to President [Mark] Welsh and then Chancellor [John] Sharp that a change in the leadership of the program was necessary in order for Aggie football to reach our full potential and they accepted my decision,” Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said in a statement. “We appreciate Coach Fisher’s time here at Texas A&M and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Fisher was 45-25 in six seasons at Texas A&M, and he signed a new 10-year contract with $95 million guaranteed in 2021. That deal was given, in part, because of the potential at the time of Fisher leaving for LSU.

Fisher was informed of the school’s decision in a meeting Sunday morning, sources told ESPN. Associate head coach Elijah Robinson will serve as the Aggies’ interim coach, sources said.

The move comes in the wake of Texas A&M (6-4, 4-3 SEC) winning 51-10 against Mississippi State on Saturday. But sources told ESPN that Fisher’s fate was largely decided before that game.

The steps toward removing Fisher began in a Texas A&M board of regents meeting Thursday, sources said. An executive session included a four-hour discussion, much of which was dedicated to Fisher’s future.

The timing of firing a coach so close to game day didn’t work, so the school pushed out the decision until early Sunday. The move right now means that Texas A&M will not have a chance to finish 8-4 under Fisher and inject optimism with a talented roster and injured quarterback Conner Weigman returning.

Sources have consistently pointed to the amount of talent at Texas A&M and on the roster, as the Aggies have been one of the most aggressive schools in NIL.

Since winning the Orange Bowl and finishing No. 4 in the Associated Press poll in 2020, Texas A&M has gone 19-15. The Aggies have not won the SEC West or played in the College Football Playoff during Fisher’s tenure.

The upcoming decision over whom to hire at Texas A&M marks a collision of a school with among the highest resources in college football that has consistently failed to maximize them at the sport’s highest level.

Oregon‘s Dan Lanning and Washington‘s Kalen DeBoer might be targets in the Aggies’ search.

“They’re going to go big,” a source told ESPN.

Following Fisher’s dismissal, Texas A&M players will have a 30-day window to enter the transfer portal. Freshman wide receiver Raymond Cottrell, who has one reception this season, announced on X that he would put his name into the portal.

Texas A&M last won a conference championship in 1998, when it played in the Big 12. Fisher is the fourth consecutive Texas A&M head coach to fail to win a conference championship, following Dennis Franchione, Mike Sherman and Kevin Sumlin.

Since entering the SEC in 2012, Texas A&M has not won the West Division to play in the SEC title game. The school’s only 10-plus win season in the SEC came during 2012, although A&M went 9-1 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Texas A&M has the country’s ninth-ranked recruiting class, according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings. The Aggies have a roster that has generally been considered underachieving by coaches, as Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin referred to it as “like an NFL-level roster” earlier this season.

But since narrowly missing the College Football Playoff in 2020, Texas A&M has waded in mediocrity and underachievement, setting the Aggies up for the infamy of paying three times more for a coach not to coach than any other program in the history of the sport.

A turning point for the Aggies came early last season when Appalachian State upset them 17-14 in College Station. That didn’t end up being a good Mountaineers team, as they finished 6-6 and 3-5 in the Sun Belt.

Texas A&M hasn’t won a road game since winning at Missouri in October 2021, a streak that has stretched to nine games and epitomizes the program’s failure to compete at the highest levels of the sport.

“You can win it all with what’s here,” a source at Texas A&M said. “It’s all set up. There’s good kids and good players. This is a top-five job. They have all the resources and facilities.”

The disconnect and talent collection is one reason why the school pressed to push into such rare buyout territory. The previous highest known public school buyout came in 2020 when Auburn fired Gus Malzahn, which cost $21.7 million.

Considering the potential staff buyouts and what will be needed to lure a new coach and staff, the bill for coaching talent coming and going could top $100 million.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Tom VanHaaren contributed to this report.

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