Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher To Stay, If He Stops Calling Plays, And Hires Offensive Coordinator

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher wants his players to perform with their hearts on their sleeves, so to speak, to finish out this lost season.

"Lot of heart, lot of guts," Fisher said when asked what he wants to see out of his 3-7 team in the final two weeks against Massachusetts (1-9) and No. 6 LSU (8-2, 6-1).

And that includes sophomore wide receiver Moose Muhammad III, who refused to take off his sleeves after lining up deep for the opening kickoff at Auburn last Saturday.

Fisher has a policy that does not allow his skill players (receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, defensive backs) to wear sleeves in colder or wet weather because they cause slippage. All other Aggies adhered to the policy, except Muhammad. After the opening kickoff, which was not returned, Muhammad was told, he was not going back into the game, unless he took off the sleeves.

He refused, and Texas A&M's No. 2 receiver on the season - 30 catches for 441 yards and three touchdowns - sat out the whole game. Or stood out, one might say, on his personal mountain of protest, I guess. Teammates tried to convince Muhammad to strip, but he wouldn't budge. And Texas A&M lost its sixth straight game - 13-10 to Auburn. Who knows what a little more offense or a nice return could have done?

Texas A&M WR Moose Muhammad III Took A Sleeves Stand?

Somehow, I don't think this is what Muhammad Ali had in mind as far as standing one's ground when he was found guilty of draft evasion to the Vietnam War in 1966. He didn't box for for four years of his prime and lost his boxing titles over that before his conviction was overturned in 1971. Agree or disagree with his stance on the draft, that nonetheless is more of a reason to stand your ground.

For sleeves, no.

This strange Muhammad episode is emblematic of the season from Hell for Fisher and the Aggies, who are 1-6 in the SEC. Muhammad has seen the light and will play without sleeves - if it's cold and rainy - Saturday against UMass (Noon, ESPN+).

This is Texas A&M's worst season since going 4-8 and 2-6 in Mike Sherman's first season in 2008. This is Fisher's fifth season. Perhaps, Muhammad thought he would get more grassroots support, but he didn't. In other words, that was Fisher's first win since Arkansas, 23-21, on Sept. 24.

The Aggies have looked awful. But it should be noted that more than 30 Texas A&M players have missed multiple games this season with injuries.

Surely, Texas A&M Can Beat UMass, Right?

But if Fisher loses to UMass, which is a 33-point underdog, he will be knocked out of his job quicker than Ali silenced Sonny Liston in the first round in 1965. Auburn was bad, but UMass is really bad. Surely, Fisher's punch-drunk offense can muster points in the 30s for the first time since a 31-0 win over Sam Houston State on Sept. 3.

Fisher's still standing with his $9 million a year prize salary and $84 million buyout.

But believe me, the Billion Dollar Old Oil Men's Club of Aggies graduates has had the money together to fire Fisher, if they so choose. But you don't get to be a billionaire in most cases without watching your investments. And A&M has a lot invested in the 2022 signing class of Fisher's.

Keeping that class together is top priority - more so than giving Fisher another chance. But keeping Fisher may help keep the class, though he is likely to lose a few to the NCAA Transfer Portal.

If anything, Fisher deserves a chance to coach the class that has got him so much criticism for how he got it.

Jimbo Fisher May Have To Hire A Real Offensive Coordinator

But the billionaires want something in return for another year. Fisher will likely have to stop being the main play caller and hire a new offensive coordinator, if he wants to keep his job.

Fisher has been calling plays since he was the quarterbacks coach at Auburn in 1993. And he has been his own offensive coordinator since becoming a head coach at Florida State in 2010 and moving to A&M before the 2018 season. He has co-offensive coordinators in Darrell Dickey and James Coley, but Fisher is the OC.

The problem is his offense has been mostly average to bad throughout his time at A&M. And this season, he has struggled to get the plays in on time - even as fast as he talks. The false start penalties, delay of game calls, and need for timeouts have been ridiculous.

Too often, Fisher has been seen yelling at players and officials while crazily flipping several laminated play sheets like a mad mad to find a play. Looking at his offense, it seems like he could fit his plays on a box of matches.

He cannot promote an offensive coordinator from within. He needs to find someone who can run a modern offense. Fisher hasn't turned that key. His offense looks about 10 years too old. Who will want to take that job? And will Fisher listen to him. He is as hard-headed as they come.

I'll believe that he'll have a true new offensive coordinator when I see it. But drastic measures are needed. And a head coach moving away from calling all the plays has worked.

Fisher need only look at his next opponent after UMass right next door to see how he could flip his future. First-year SEC West champion LSU coach Brian Kelly, who should be the national coach of the year this season, fired himself as play caller early on in a 4-8 season in 2016 at Notre Dame. He has not called plays regularly since, other than the occasional, two-point conversion against Alabama.

Jimbo Fisher Needs To Learn The Art Of Delegation

"The changes were much more in the way we did things on a day-to-day basis," Kelly said on the SEC teleconference Wednesday. "We upped the standards. We demanded more from each other."

And Kelly delegated responsibility, something Fisher badly needs to do.

"I stepped away from having anything to do with play calling and was much more involved with the day-to-day operation with our players," Kelly said. "It was much more of an internal reboot than it was, we went out and got this player."

Notre Dame and Kelly bounced back to 10-3 in 2017, which was was followed by seasons of 12-1 and 11-2 and 10-2 in 2020 with a College Football Playoff appearance before an 11-1 finish last year. That 4-8 season remains just one of two losing campaigns in Kelly's head coaching career that began in 1991 at Grand Valley State. He had gone 10-3 with the Irish before the 4-8 season. It was an isolated losing season, but he reacted swiftly.

Kelly basically re-invented himself and quit trying to do everything.

Fisher must do the same. He must delegate the offense or he will be dealt away, regardless of how much it costs.

"He really re-invented himself," said South Bend Tribune writer Mike Be

Written by
Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests. A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention. Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.