The buyout life is undefeated

By Mark Nagi

Imagine that you are underachieving at your job to the point that your employer doesn’t want you to come to work anymore… and that said employer will pay you $77 million to go away.

Pretty sweet deal, right?

Well, all you need to do is become the head football coach at Texas A&M, and your dreams will come true.

Earlier this month, Jimbo Fisher was fired as the leader of the Aggies football program, after nearly six years in charge. His time in College Station was filled with highly rated recruiting classes, but rarely the wins to go with it.

Fisher went 45–25 in his 70 games at Texas A&M, which doesn’t sound especially bad.  However, over the last three years the Aggies were a barely above mediocre 19–15. It gets worse when you look at his mark in conference play. They were 10–13 against SEC opponents. They were a woeful 12–14 against Power Five conference schools.

Maybe the biggest indictment of Fisher’s tenure is the way that this team has played away from home. They haven’t won a true road game in over two years. That includes a 20-13 loss to Tennessee back on October 14.

Fisher arrived in College Station with a really good resume, which included the 2013 BCS national title with Florida State. But when he struggled to win big without having Jameis Winston as his quarterback,  Fisher wore out his welcome with each passing year in Tallahassee. Texas A&M gave him a lifetime, and he took it, and the big salary that came with it.

Fisher got a 10-year contract worth $75 million in December 2017. The Aggies went 9-1 during the 2020 COVID season, prompting Texas A&M to rip up his original contract and give him a brand new 10-year deal for $95 million. Oh, and that contract was fully guaranteed.

That… was insane for many reasons. First of all, using the COVID season as a sign that everything was moving in the right direction was crazy, no matter how good recruiting was going. Nothing went according to plan that year.

Second, and this is the big one for me… what other school was out there ready to give Fisher $95 million? He was still under contract for seven more years and already making $7.5 million a year. Texas A&M was under no obligation to give Fisher a raise, and there was no competition for his services. This was an example of an athletics department with more money than common sense.

The Aggies pulled the trigger on the firing knowing that after nearly six years, things were not going to get better, so give them credit for that at least.  But this was yet another example of schools overpaying for coaches that couldn’t get the job done.

Tennessee has paid millions of dollars to former football coaches Phillip Fulmer, Derek Dooley and Butch Jones (Fulmer got AD buyout cash too), but never the type of numbers we see in the Fisher case. Heck, when Auburn paid Gus Malzahn over $20 million to leave, we never thought that would be considered chump change to their division rival.

Because these guys are all wired different, Fisher may well choose to coach again, despite the fact that he’s getting that $77 million no matter what his future holds. Spending the next 30 years at the beach sounds a lot better to me but hey, what do I know.

Just remember that the buyout life has been and always will be undefeated.