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This could be a tough sell.
Wanted: Offensive Coordinator at major college football program in SEC. Duties: Must be able to get along with people, particularly a head coach who was told to no longer call plays. New hire will call plays, or pretend to, if the head coach decides to keep doing so. Must refresh the offense from an early 2010s style to present day. Mission: Help team win immediately as head coach is in big trouble after 5-7 season. Salary: Negotiable, but head coach makes $9 million a year, and there’s more where that comes from. If interested, please contact Texas A&M.
So far so good as of late for embattled Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher. He could have been fired just weeks ago after a 3-7 mark with a 1-6 record in the SEC. He rallied, though, to finish 5-7 and 2-6 with a shocking upset of No. 5 LSU.
Then he fired offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey, which was one of the things Fisher may have had to do to keep his job. Never mind that Dickey has basically been running Fisher’s offense, which has been the problem.
Jimbo Fisher Faces Biggest Hire of Career
Now, Fisher faces the biggest hire of his average career and extremely high salary as Texas A&M’s coach since 2018. He needs to find an offensive guru who will call the plays. This is because Fisher not calling the plays is apparently another prerequisite for his return.
This hire could cost a lot of money. If Fisher finds somebody good, that person will likely have Fisher constantly looking over his shoulder and speaking over him on the headphones. And Fisher talks really fast. This is going to be difficult. Oh, and there’s this: if it doesn’t work out in 2023, they’ll probably both be fired.
It’s going to be hard to imagine Fisher, 57, not calling plays. He has been doing it since the early 1990s as Auburn’s quarterback coach. But his offense does badly need to hit the refresh button.
The Aggies finished 102nd in the nation in scoring last season (22.8 points a game), 94th in total offense (361 yards a game) and 83rd in pass offense (219 a game). Only Kentucky was worse in the SEC in scoring. Only Vanderbilt and Kentucky were worse in total offense in the SEC.
There is hope at quarterback in Conner Weigman, a five-star true freshman who showed promise late in the 2022 season. He is the future, which is why sophomore Haynes King recently entered the NCAA Transfer (Backup) Portal.
So far, though, the best of the best are not flocking to College Station.
Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator Candidates
Here are some of the candidates:
BOBBY PETRINO: Yes, he’s back. If you forgot about him, Petrino, 61, has been the head coach at Missouri State the last three years and just went 5-6. While at Louisville from 2003-06 and at Arkansas from 2008-11, he was considered one of the best offensive coordinator-type head coaches and play callers in the business. That all skidded away when a motorcycle accident near Fayetteville, Arkansas, uncovered an extra marital affair with a young woman he hired. He was fired in 2012 and bounced to head coaching jobs at Western Kentucky in 2013, Louisville again until a 2-8 season in 2018 and to Missouri State. He was successful in every head coaching job. But he’s older than Fisher, and like Fisher, his offenses have faded. He is considered a candidate, though not the top one.
GARRETT RILEY: The younger brother of USC head coach and national coach of the year favorite Lincoln Riley, Garrett, 33, would be just what Fisher needs. As offensive coordinator at TCU this season, his Horned Frogs are No. 16 in total offense with 473 yards a game. His quarterback and Heisman-finalist Max Duggan is No. 9 in the nation in passing efficiency at 165.5 with 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns and four interceptions. Fisher has had no quarterback like that in recent years. But with TCU in the College Football Playoff at No. 4, Riley could do a lot better. He may become the next head coach at North Texas. Or he could have his pick of major OC jobs if he wants to leave TCU after just one season.
JEFF GRIMES: Grimes, 54, would not be a great hire as most of his experience is as an offensive line coach – not a progressive play caller. He has been Baylor’s offensive coordinator since 2021 after serving in that role from 2018-20 at Brigham Young. He does know Texas. He is a native of Garland near Dallas and played at Texas El Paso. He was a graduate assistant at A&M in 1996 and ’97 and at Rice in 1995. He could be a figurehead with Fisher keeping his hand and mouth in play calling.
KELLEN MOORE: The former NFL quarterback, 34, is the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator. But the way they throw money around at A&M, he could get a raise. And again, why? He has not coached anywhere else, and maybe it could help him get a college head coaching job down the road.
Some thought this hire would have already been made. The early signing date is on Dec. 21, so this could happen quick. And who it may be is up in the air.
One thing is sure. It will not be former Baylor coach Art Briles, who has more baggage than even Petrino. Baylor fired Briles in 2015 after for his role in sexual assault cases involving his players. He is coaching in the Italian Football League.
Fisher may just be going through the motions. If he hires too good of a candidate, he may be hiring his next boss.