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Texas A&M University fired head football coach Jimbo Fisher on Sunday, committing itself to spend more than $75 million to buy out his contract and announcing a national search for his replacement.
“In my analysis ... our program is stuck in neutral,” Texas A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork told reporters hours after he had met with Fisher to notify him of the school’s decision. “Something was not working”
Although the decision was announced on Sunday, one day after the Aggies trounced Mississippi State, 51-10, Bjork said he came to the conclusion a leadership change was needed earlier last week. It was then he notified the school’s interim president, Mark Welsh III and A&M System Chancellor John Sharp of his recommendation and the matter was then discussed in executive session with the Texas A&M Board of Regents. Bjork would only say that it was a “robust conversation.”
On Sunday, Bjork delivered the news to Fisher in what he described as a “quick and cordial” exchange. The players also learned the news in a meeting Sunday morning.
“After very careful analysis of all the components related to Texas A&M football, I recommended to President Welsh and then Chancellor 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," said Athletic Director Ross Bjork in a statement. "We appreciate Coach Fisher’s time here at Texas A&M and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
The $75 million the university will owe Fisher to buy out his contract is the most money ever owed to a football coach. Bjork said details of the contract buyout were being worked out but that what is owed to Fisher would be paid with donor dollars from the school’s 12th Man Foundation and athletic department funds.
In the meantime, A&M Assistant Coach Elijah Robinson has been named the team’s interim head coach for the final two games of the season: Abilene Christian University on Nov. 18 and Louisiana State University on Nov. 25.
"The decision to part ways with Coach Fisher is the result of a thorough evaluation of the football program's performance, and what's in the best interest of the overall program and Texas A&M University," Welsh said in a statement Sunday, adding that Bjork will start a national search for Fisher's replacement. "I am confident he will find a great coach and leader with a commitment to the values that drive Texas A&M."
University administrators stunned the college football world when they announced the 10-year, $75M contract in 2017 that lured Fisher away from Florida State University. The deal was staggering for both its duration and its guaranteed annual pay.
In 2021, the board extended the contract by four years after reports that Fisher might leave A&M for Louisiana State University. Under that extension, Fisher made $9 million annually.
In contrast, Steve Sarkisian, the head football coach at the University of Texas at Austin, is guaranteed to make at least $34.2 million throughout his six-year contract.
At the time, university leaders said Fisher, who won a national championship in Florida, was worth the money and the university wanted to win championships. But Fisher has been unable to deliver. While Fisher had a strong year in 2020, Fisher’s overall record is 45-25. Last year, the Aggies ended the season with a 5-7 record. The team is in the midst of another lackluster season, with a 6-4 record so far.
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