Friday’s 7 wild college football stories: Jimbo Fisher’s A&M contract leads

What are you doing over the next 10 years? Maybe you’ve got a 10-year plan to grow a business or get your life together. I’d imagine you’d like to make some money over that time period. That’s fair. But none of us has a 10-year plan quite like new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher now does. Not even close.

He leaves Florida State after eight years at the helm and national championship in the trophy case. Leaving one of the country’s top jobs makes this story stunning enough.

But there’s more. Fisher agreed to a 10-year, $75 million contract on Friday. If that contract sounds huge, it’s because it is. It’s a record in the sense of total dollar-figure.

What’s even more, is it’s reportedly fully guaranteed, meaning he will receive every single cent owed, even if he goes 6-6 every year against a harder schedule, unless he gets fired for cause for some off-field reason.

A&M seemingly has more money than God, with its massive stadium renovation and 2016’s highest-grossing athletic department in college sports. But the contract is still eye-popping, and sets up mammoth expectations for the Aggies from Day 1.

I spoke to an agent Friday evening who expressed a big concern within the industry: For a sport that sustains itself on incremental change, Texas A&M just threw a bomb into how salaries are structured at the top level. The game has changed.

Ole Miss finally learned what its NCAA fate will be.

Through an investigation process that started some five years ago, the Rebels got their sanctions from the NCAA. These are the penalties:

An additional bowl-ban year (2018).

Because of that total two-year bowl ban, NCAA rules give Ole Miss seniors the freedom to transfer elsewhere without sitting out a season.

Probation running concurrently with current probation for a total of four years.

Financial penalties, added to self-imposed sanctions, and totaling $179,000.

A total scholarship reduction of 13 over a period of years. That’s in addition to the 11 over four years that Ole Miss self-imposed, which already meant three or four fewer scholarship players per year.

Every coach named in the NCAA’s investigation has received a show-cause (essentially an NCAA blackball for a period of time) of varying lengths. That doesn’t include new head coach Matt Luke, who wasn’t named. Former head coach Hugh Freeze would receive a two-game suspension, if hired elsewhere. Former assistant David Saunders’ show-cause runs for eight years. Former staffer Barney Farrar faces five.

Ole Miss says it will “vigorously” appeal the bowl ban, so this saga is not over.

And when this news broke it was totally overshadowed by Tennessee.

Tennessee had Mike Leach pretty close to being its head coach.

After nearly a dozen reported instances of the Vols narrowing in on a single coach candidate, AD John Currie went out to Los Angeles to meet with Washington State’s Leach, and the meeting went ”very well,” per Sports Illustrated. The report went on to say that there was mutual interest from Leach.

But there was something else swirling within the Vols athletic program since the bungling of the Greg Schiano hiring earlier this week. People have not been happy with Currie.

That came to a head on Friday.

Tennessee had a coup that ended up with Phillip Fulmer as new athletic director.

Former head coach Fulmer is back in charge after basically running an insurrection that ended up with now-former AD John Currie being ousted.

Fulmer was 151-52-1 in 17 seasons in Knoxville, winning a national championship in the 1998 season. Only [Robert] Neyland, who won 173 games between 1926 and 1952, won more football games leading the Vols. Fulmer left his job, reportedly under pressure, after the 2008 season. He still appears at Tennessee games and was a College GameDay guest picker (choosing the Vols) before 2016’s game against Florida.

Somehow, this guy wins the sweepstakes that is the Knoxvillian game of thrones.


Tennessee Volunteers v South Carolina Gamecocks

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Remember that Fulmer was not well-regarded when he was pushed out in 2008, but time heals all wounds, and at least there’s a Vol to drive the bus, wherever it’s gonna go.

Willie Taggart watch begins in Tallahassee, and the Oregon job might soon open.

Y’all have any idea what a Florida State coaching search looks like? If you do, then I guess 1978 was a fun time, because that’s the last time the school had one. The fanbase has its eye squarely fixed on Oregon coach Willie Taggart.

A native of Bradenton, Florida, Taggart began his head-coaching career where he played QB: Western Kentucky. He turned around that program after just the first of his three seasons and then brought back South Florida, where he registered win totals of 2, 4, 8, and 10 (in that order) from 2013-2016 before being hired by Oregon. Taggart is 5-1 with his starting QB this year, and 1-4 without. He’s an excellent recruiter who could seriously reinvigorate FSU’s fortunes in the Tampa area.

Taggart said before practice on Friday that he wouldn’t address any of the rumors, but they will certainly persist.

About an hour before FSU news broke, Jimbo’s Christmas tree became an instant meme.

On any other day, a bowl giving itself a six-word name would’ve sustained college football fan jokes for hours.

You haven’t heard of Cheribundi either.

Everybody kind of forgot a Power 5 title game was happening right after all this.

Oh, yeah we actually played real American football on Friday as well. The Pac-12 title game was actually a thing that happened. It provided some wonderful symmetry to cinch up the day. USC beat Stanford, 31-28, to win its first Pac-12 title since 2008.

Another thing that was happening in 2008?

This guy was head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers:


Tennessee v Vanderbilt

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A tough day for trees and a wild day for college football comes to an end, with conference title Saturday, Selection Sunday, and plenty more Vols news still to go.

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