Bob Sparks: FSU’s Jimbo should rule out a move to Texas

Days before Florida State plays Auburn on Monday night for the BCS national championship, the Seminoles and Coach Jimbo Fisher announced a five-year contract extension.  The deal will keep Fisher in Tallahassee through the 2018 season.

Or will it?

As this unexpected run toward the summit of college football developed, FSU boosters and fans began to think long term.  The glory days have returned and the Seminoles, with great recruiting and a solid coaching staff, have the pieces in place for long-term dominance.

Then, Mack Brown happened.  The University of Texas fans and boosters were ready for a change and basically forced Brown’s hand into announcing his “resignation.”

The Longhorns have set their sights high on a replacement.  They certainly consider themselves one of the elite programs and seek nothing but the best in a new head coach. They will pay top dollar.  Names surfacing included Alabama’s Nick Saban, Stanford’s David Shaw and Fisher.

Seminole supporters will point to Saban for an illustration of how they want things to shake out.  On Dec. 14, with Texas speculation at a rolling boil, Saban signed a new deal with Alabama worth $7 million per year.

After signing that deal, which made him the highest paid coach in college football, Saban said what FSU supporters want to hear from Fisher:  “I never considered going to Texas. That wasn’t even a conversation.”

Saban closed and dead-bolted the door to Texas.  Potential recruits can rest easy.  His team could prepare in earnest for its bowl game with no outside distraction.

Fisher signed his extension on Dec. 31 just prior to the Seminoles’ departure for Pasadena.  The deal reportedly calls for Fisher to earn $4 million per year plus incentives.

Jimbo just finished the second year of a five-year deal paying him $2.75 million.  Brown, by the way, was pulling down $5.93 million at Texas and was the highest paid college coach until Saban’s deal.

While Saban ended speculation, Fisher has not come close to doing the same.  FSU Athletic Director Stan Wilcox said “(w)e are pleased with the direction of our program and believe this new contract will assure that Coach Fisher is in place to lead the Seminoles for a long time to come.”

Fisher said, “I’m very happy to be (at FSU); they’re happy to have me.  Hopefully that relationship will go on for a long time.”

Bottom line, Jimbo’s deal is not final.  Wilcox can only “believe” Fisher remains in Tallahassee for five more years.  Fisher can say “hopefully” that is the case.

According to ESPN, “the new contract does not eliminate Fisher from contention for any other job openings, including Texas…Florida State views the new deal as a strong two-way commitment that Fisher will not leave for another university.”

If Fisher does not make a statement similar to the one issued by Saban, the potential for a serious distraction prior to the championship game exists.  If he really believes FSU is the place for him, he should say so.

He owes the university something.  They pushed out a living legend in Bobby Bowden, the man who brought Fisher to Tallahassee, to make Jimbo the head coach.

He owes his players something.  They want to know the man who recruited them will be around to coach them.  Potential recruits will likely wait until they are positive he continues to report for work at Doak Campbell Stadium.

If Fisher does not end the speculation, Texas will certainly come after him should the Seminoles win the national title.  There is no question he will have leverage if that is his goal.  Wilcox and the administration may be forced to tear up this extension.

Let’s not forget that Florida State is an elite program clearly on par, or superior, to the University of Texas.  What method of puncture is more painful?  At this point, more should “Fear the Spear” rather than being on the receiving end of “Hook ‘Em Horns.”

Your move, Coach.

Bob Sparks

Bob Sparks is a former political consultant who previously served as spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Attorney General. He was a senior adviser to former Gov. Charlie Crist. Before entering politics, he spent nearly two decades in professional baseball administration. He can be reached at [email protected] and Twitter @BobSparksFL.


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