Rhetoric During Down Stretch Reveals Animus for Texas A&M Football
Something I’ve noticed as a Texas A&M football fan over the past few years is a shift in the way people talk about Jimbo and the way they talk about the program. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to late 2017, when the Aggies had just fired Kevin Sumlin. Rumors had started to leak out about Jimbo’s possible interest in the job; this was not necessarily a new phenomenon, as Fisher’s name had been linked to jobs previously during his time in Tallahassee. Even as the rumors and whispers grew louder, however, there was a certain attitude among the everyday college football fan (and, indeed, certain writers and members of the media) that taking this job was a step down for Fisher. Why would you go to be the Texas A&M football coach when you’re at an actual dream job in Tallahassee?
There are plenty of these tweets. The consensus when this move was made was that Texas A&M football was a less desirable job than Florida State. Why would this guy—this elite coach—leave Tallahassee for College Station? The thought was that the Texas A&M football job was just not as good as FSU; the concern was not that Jimbo could not produce on the field as much in College Station, but rather that the factors that lead to winning were more fecund in Tallahassee: recruiting and all that goes into it, institutional support (though that turned out to be patently untrue), etc. Jimbo was better than this job. Once the contract numbers came out, though, is when the derision began. How dumb could A&M be to give out this contract? Jimbo can leave for any job he wants now, with no buyout! It would not be long until a superior job poaches him, they said. And surely that is what would happen, as he showed with this move that he is nothing more than a mercenary.
Let’s fast forward to 2021, in the days following a huge win over Alabama. It was clear that these were the final days in Baton Rouge for Ed Orgeron, and with Scott Woodward already having left A&M for LSU… well, it didn’t take long for the armchair experts to put the pieces together. Jimbo—fresh off of an Orange Bowl win, defeating #1 Alabama with a backup QB, and building a hugely impressive recruiting class—was as good as gone.
The time had come. Yes, Jimbo had had a little bit of success down in College Station, but a better opportunity had come calling, and he would of course jump ship—just as they had all predicted even back in early 2018! I mean, look at that contract! Never mind that Jimbo had already spurned LSU in 2016–his old buddy Woodward was at LSU now, and he was going to make Fisher an offer he could not refuse.
Well, he did make that offer. But Jimbo refused it. He stayed in College Station. He inked that top recruiting class of all time—better than any class he had signed in Tallahassee, better than any class LSU has signed before or since.
Things since then, of course, have not exactly been smooth sailing for Texas A&M football. The only balm for the sting of the poor record last year was that win over a top-5 LSU at home in the final game of the year. Though this year started off well for the Aggies, recent struggles have once more brought a magnifying glass over the program. It is in this previous stretch that a furious flurry of ire has been aimed directly at Texas A&M football, and it is this span that has revealed the rhetorical shift of which I am speaking.