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Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)

 

ATLANTA — "Howdy!" Jimbo Fisher greeted the room as he stepped onto the podium. There was silence from the crowd.

"If y'all didn't know, you're supposed to say howdy back," he said. "That's a Texas A&M thing."

Another Texas A&M thing is to win, and win a lot. Fisher is getting paid way too much money not to.

The numbers boggle the mind. Fisher landed a 10-year, $75 million contract to leave Florida State — where he won a national championship — to become the head football coach at College Station. What makes the number even more absurd is every cent is guaranteed, meaning Fisher will get $75 million whether he wins another championship or doesn't fare any better than the 51-27 that predecessor Kevin Sumlin did.

"I kinda like it. With the new contract (SEC Network host Paul Finebaum) signed, I might be the second highest-paid guy in the league," Fisher said jokingly. "If I didn't think we could win national championships, I wouldn't have came."

Texas A&M has made it clear it wants that, and soon. The money-printing factory in the SEC's Western outpost even hinted that it could have given Fisher more years and money.

Fisher said he's ready for the challenge. Frankly, there's no reason Texas A&M shouldn't be better than it is. In the football hotbed of America, able to build facilities and keep tapping an endless well of cash, the Aggies should be miles ahead of the three 8-5 seasons and one 7-6 they've turned in the last four years.

Yet after that initial 11-2 season in the SEC, reality set in. A&M plays in the toughest division of the toughest league in the country. The Aggies have to play Alabama and Auburn every year, and they still haven't beaten LSU since joining the SEC despite LSU being rather ordinary lately.

That's why A&M aimed high, targeting one of just four active coaches to win a national championship, and got its man. Fisher has the guaranteed money, true, but also knows he can't relax under the golden parachute that $75 million buys.

A&M asserted that, handing him a plaque that congratulated on him winning the "20-- NCAA Division I Football National Championship." The blank spaces are for him to fill in.

"We know he's a great coach. He's won a championship before," defensive lineman Kingsley Keke said. "Everyone on the team is excited about it. We're all loving what he's done so far and we're buying into everything he tells us to do."

The money overshadows anything Fisher may accomplish. If he wins 11 games this season, well, he's getting paid to do that, so congratulations and when will he win 12? He wins anything less than 10, people will question why he is getting paid $7.5 million for that.

Fisher cast all of that aside, saying it isn't about money.

"When I coached this game at Samford University, making less than $15,000 as offensive coordinator, I didn't do it for the money then, don't do it for the money now," he said. "Long as I'm putting my name on something, no matter what I'm getting paid, we're going to try to be the best we can be."

The best he can be may not be good enough. Fisher may not feel money is the name of the game, but Texas A&M made it so and expects to win that game, plus plenty of others.

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