When Texas A&M football hired Jimbo Fisher back in 2018, I remember how I felt.
I had only come to Sports Consciousness six years prior. Well, full Sports Consciousness anyway: I had kept up with the Finals run of my beloved Mavericks in 2011 and watched the two heartbreaking World Series losses of my only slightly-less-beloved Rangers in 2010 and 2011. Still, though, I was disconnected enough from sports in general that—even though I knew these were my teams—the proposition wasn’t unthinkable that I could go off to scout camp and miss the clinching game six of those Finals, only to be informed of the result via a letter from my dad. He used blue sharpie.
Of course, the team that was “my favorite” (read: the one for which I had the most t-shirts and therefore the one that I knew was most important to my dad) was the Aggies. Texas A&M football. I had no idea how football worked at that point—at least, I think; a family video may have emerged recently in which I at age six am able to correctly identify a punt happening on the TV screen. In any case, I had never paid close attention to a football game. That began to change in the fall of 2012, for reasons that should be pretty obvious.
I think the fact that this was the time in which I became familiar with Aggie football—this 2012 season, specifically—has had a rather profound effect on my outlook as a Texas A&M football fan. I started paying attention too late into the season to see the Florida game, and didn’t watch closely enough at first to catch the LSU game; we won every game I did watch, and usually in resounding fashion. There was no unexpected disappointment; we just kept winning behind this amazing quarterback we had. The best part, though, is that he was coming back! Surely, with another year under his belt, we were going to win the championship!
But we didn’t.
I don’t think I need to rehash the rollercoaster years that followed, starting off with 5 or 6 wins in a row only to falter down the stretch every single year. Five stars came and went. I recall telling my dad in the aisle of a Michael’s that a bigtime junior QB we had committed named Tate Martell was going to skip his senior year and come to the rescue after Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray departed. I was consistently confused by his cynicism and apathy when I brought good news like this. He, of course, had a much better handle on things than I did; I just didn’t know it yet.
For the first game of the 2017 season, I asked my dad to come over to my college apartment so we could watch Texas A&M football take on UCLA. He brought some kind of dip that my mom had made, of which I had a few bites in about the second quarter before I lost my appetite. I did not handle that game very well, I don’t think.
The leftover dip sat, uneaten, in my fridge for way too long before I eventually threw it out. Just if anyone’s wondering.
I had heard many oblique and usually joking references to “BAS” before this, but—as I say—it was a sensation and state with which I was unfamiliar due to the optimism of those early days. At that point, though, standing in front of my mirrored closet door as I was Tweeting Through It, I began to understand where it comes from.
There were bright spots in that season, though. Beating Arkansas in overtime again. Coming within one score of beating Alabama at home (the closest we had been since 2013). The comeback against South Carolina, featuring one of the best Kyle Field moments of Sumlin’s tenure; a brief glimpse of what dominant defense looked and sounded like (eternal props to Tom Hart and Jordan Rodgers for getting out of the way for that one) in a packed home environment for the Aggies. I still think about these moments. But they weren’t enough to keep Sumlin around. The UCLA game was too big to overcome.
At that time, to me, Jimbo Fisher’s name was in the distant, untouchable tier of the sport’s upper crust of coaches. A monster recruiter; a winner; a national champion; the rest. I didn’t care for Florida State, but I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other on the man himself. When his name was floated for the job, I didn’t really dare to hope.
As things began to pick up steam, though, I couldn’t keep away from Twitter, anxiously awaiting the next update. As things became finalized, I couldn’t believe it. We had our guy. We are going to win a national championship, I thought. I pictured Armani Watts hoisting a trophy and was almost brought to tears. Not sure why him in specific—he had exhausted his eligibility, after all—but I distinctly remember this happening. It was less a matter of if to me at that point than when, so when they gave Jimbo that plaque, I knew jokes were coming; but I also knew that it would one day be filled in with a date.
But it wasn’t.