In the latest episode of "As the SEC Turns," Texas A&M kept stacking up dollars until Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher flinched and Tennessee got rejected yet again -- this time by North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren.
The Vols nearly hired Ohio State defensive coordinator (and former Rutgers coach) Greg Schiano, but backed out when their fans revolted. David Cutcliffe (Duke), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) and Jeff Brohm (Purdue) also said no.
Cashiered A&M coach Kevin Sumlin emerged as a possibility . . . then faded. Now Tennessee seems to be zeroing in on the ever-eccentric Mike Leach, an offensive innovator with an, um, unconventional coaching persona.
Leach helped revolutionize Big 12 offenses while at Texas Tech before departing under unhappy circumstances. He has won eight or more games the last three years at Washington State.
Putting him on the big SEC stage -- in front of that insane fan base -- could be magical entertainment. Tipsheet wants to see it happen.
Meanwhile, various reports had Texas A&M closing the deal on Fisher for upwards of $7 million per season. The Seminoles, 5-6 this season heading into a rescheduled game against Louisiana Monroe, is already talking to possible replacements for Fisher, including Oregon's Willie Taggart.
Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi let Fisher have it:
Even the most devout UCF fan will understand if Scott Frost leaves for a bigger job at his alma mater in Nebraska. No FSU fan will understand if Jimbo leaves for a smaller job at Texas A&M.
In the last 25 years, Florida State has won three national titles, played for it six times and would have played for it many more times if they had not lost one key game (usually to Miami) during the Bobby Bowden era.
Texas A&M’s last national title was 77 years ago.
Is this really how Jimbo is going to treat the Seminoles? Is this really how he’s going to leave a university that shoved the legendary Bowden out the door just so they could give Jimbo the job? Is he really going to destroy his FSU legacy of winning championships, upgrading facilities, modernizing the infrastructure and dominating his rivals (a combined 14-2 record against Miami and Florida) by leaving the program in a losing lurch?
Jimbo can try to paint his potential departure any way he wants, but we all know the real truth. He can say that FSU’s facilities, even though there have been tons of upgrades in recent years, are still lagging. And he can say — as a recent Tallahassee Democrat article alluded to — that he doesn’t have a good relationship with FSU athletics director Stan Wilcox and Andy Miller, the head of Seminole Boosters.
Those are just convenient excuses.
If Jimbo Fisher takes his ball and goes to Texas A&M, it will be because Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ran him out of town.
It will be because he’s getting out while the getting is good.
It will be because he’s quitting on a losing team and bailing on a broken program.
And he's quitting because the SEC came calling with its crazy money and insane expectations.
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Questions to ponder while the San Francisco Giants make their big pitch to Giancarlo Stanton:
THE GRIDIRON CHRONICLES
Here is what folks are writing about college football:
Rodger Sherman, The Ringer: "For the past decade, the Tide have served as the axis around which college football seasons have revolved. Either they’ve won the national title (2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015), a team that they lost to late in the season won the title (2008, 2010, 2014, and 2016), or the Kick-Six happened (2013). But in the past, Alabama losing late in the year killed its title dreams and vaulted another team into the championship hunt. This year, Bama’s loss to Auburn hasn’t necessarily crushed its hopes. Instead, the Tide have become a lens through which we can assess the value of conference titles. Alabama has a résumé essentially identical to that of no. 6 Georgia. Both teams are 11-1. Bama’s best win, according to the committee, came against 17th-ranked LSU, while Georgia’s best win, per the same rankings, came against 15th-ranked Notre Dame. (Alabama’s was at home, Georgia’s on the road.) Both teams’ second-best wins came against 23rd-ranked Mississippi State (Alabama on the road, Georgia at home), and both have a virtually identical loss: Both fell to Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium, both were ranked no. 1 in the country at the time they went down, and both games were decided by multiple scores. But Bama and Georgia’s résumés will look different by the end of Saturday. Alabama can do nothing to help its cause, while Georgia can win the SEC. All the Bulldogs have to do is beat a team that whooped them on the Plains three weeks ago. It’d seem wise to avoid the Tigers right now—they remind me a lot of the War Boys (War Eagle Boys?) from Mad Max: Fury Road; they’ve had nothing to lose for most of this fall after picking up two early losses, and have therefore had plenty of time to develop a fanatical devotion to blowing stuff up—but surely every Georgia player, coach, and fan is happy that the Bulldogs have some element of control in the playoff race."
Pete Fiutak, College Football News: "I’m about 1000% cool with the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC champions being my four in the College Football Playoff.No, Alabama. Apparently you’re not good enough at college football to win your own division. No, UCF. 1) You’re probably going to lose to Memphis, 2) if you don’t, you still haven’t played anyone worth a bucket of piddle. (But I’d rather see UCF get its shot than put in an Alabama that’s not even the best team in Alabama.) No, Wisconsin doesn’t get in at 12-1 if it loses to Ohio State. No, Oklahoma doesn’t get in if it loses to TCU and Ohio State wins. No, Clemson doesn’t get in if it loses to Miami and Auburn wins (all of which I’m about to totally contradict in articles coming out this week, but I’m on my #NoConferenceTitleNoCFP kick). We don’t need six teams. We really don’t need eight teams. And we really, really don’t need Alabama."
Chris Johnson, SI.com: "Here’s one wild scenario. Start with TCU taking out Oklahoma at AT&T Stadium in the afternoon. Next, let’s say Miami hands Clemson its second loss of the year in Charlotte. And finally, Ohio State hands Wisconsin its first loss of the season in Lucas Oil Stadium, which would put the Buckeyes firmly in the mix for a bid. As alluded to above, in this scenario the Hurricanes would have nothing to worry about, nor would the SEC champion. Yet that still leaves half the spots in the field. Both the Sooners and Tigers would have strong cases on account of their robust résumés, but they also would both have two losses. By contrast, Alabama counts only one L, and despite not even winning its own division, has charmed the committee over the years, including this one, with its efficient play on both sides of the ball."
Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports: "Give thanks for the actual football, Greg Sankey. Give thanks for Georgia-Auburn, a Southeastern Conference championship game that is expected to be played at a high level before a raucous crowd in a state-of-the-art stadium, with the winner absolutely ticketed for the College Football Playoff. And give thanks for the constant quality of Alabama — with some help, the Crimson Tide could give the SEC an unprecedented half of the four-team playoff field when it is announced Sunday. Give thanks for those good things, SEC commissioner. Because outside of the actual football, your league is an absolute festival of fubar at the moment. Start with Tennessee, which is creating the new gold standard in coaching-search debacles. Messes have been made in the past, at a lot of schools and in a lot of sports. But this? This is the Exxon Valdez spilling a million gallons of New Coke and calling for help on ESPN The Phone. It is a breathtaking mashup of dysfunction, delusion, misplaced arrogance, mob mentality, panic and poor leadership."
"He looks really strong. He's healthy again and his swing looks great. I also feel that his intensity is great, too. So there are a lot of positives.' The big thing though coming off a long break like Tiger has had is the feel. It is great playing with your buddies back home but there is a different feeling going through his body.''