Texas A&M started the 2022 season ranked in the Top 10, but didn’t even reach a bowl game.
The Aggies finished 5-7 with just a 2-6 mark in SEC play. That was probably not what the Texas A&M brass envisioned for Jimbo Fisher’s fifth year as head coach when he signed a fully-guaranteed 10-year, $95 million contract back before the 2021 season.
Expectations for the program were sky-high after the Aggies went 9-1 in 2020. Since then, Texas A&M has lost 10 of their last 16 SEC games. In fact, the COVID-shortened 2020 season is the only time the Aggies have finished above .500 in conference play during Fisher’s five seasons in College Station.
Texas A&M spends big in its effort to compete for national championships, but the Aggies have barely sniffed that conversation during Fisher’s time as head coach. Despite underachieving in 2022, Fisher said he is not feeling any added pressure entering the 2023 campaign, even with questions about his job status coming up.
“We live under pressure every day. We put more pressure on ourselves than anybody out there ever puts on us, so there’s no added pressure because what good does that do? Does worrying make you any better? No,” Fisher said at SEC Media Days in Nashville.
“What you’ve got to do is get to solutions. You’ve got to line up and understand what went right, what went wrong, what kind of team you have now, and that each team changes year by year.”
Will Bobby Petrino call plays? Fisher won’t say
A big culprit for Texas A&M’s struggles has been Fisher’s offense. The Aggies averaged only 22.8 points per game last year, which ranked No. 13 out of 14 SEC teams. It’s been a multi-season issue. And before A&M ended last season with an upset over LSU, the Aggies had gone 13 consecutive games vs. FBS competition without topping 30 points.
Fisher, who designs the offense and calls the plays, fired offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey after the season and hired Bobby Petrino to fill that role. It was a hire that raised some eyebrows. Not only does Petrino have a tumultuous history as a head coach, but he’s an offensive-minded coach who has called plays wherever he’s been.
Does that mean Petrino will have full control of the Aggies’ offense this fall, including calling plays? Fisher wouldn’t say, continuing a trend of deflecting questions related to the offense throughout the offseason.
“I’m not going to get into what we’re doing, how we’re doing it. Again, I’m not trying to avoid anything. I just don’t want to create — you create advantages and narratives out there for what goes on,” Fisher said. “Bobby was hired for a reason. He’s a tremendous coach and tremendous guy and a tremendous football mind.”
Fisher later seemed to hint that it will be more of a collaborative approach to calling the offense with Petrino heavily involved.
“Hopefully he’ll call the game. We’ll have suggestions on things we do, whether it’s offense or defense. Every coach is always involved,” Fisher said. “It’s a more collective thing than people want to give it room for, but when you get to calling and you get on a roll, you’ve got to have a guy that can do it. I think Bobby can definitely do that and does it as well as anybody in college football.”
Aggies receiver Ainias Smith said the offense is playing with more tempo, but Fisher was reluctant to provide any details about what the offense may look like.
“I’m not going to get into schematics,” he said.
Fisher also dismissed a question about how his personality has meshed with Petrino. Petrino, who is known to be rather prickly, has “fit in very well,” Fisher said.
“Every coaching staff in America has an argument or a disagreement. That’s part of it,” Fisher said. “You listen to everybody’s opinion. I want guys with opinions. I want guys who have knowledge. I want guys who make you think. We all have great respect for each other. We haven’t had any issues.”
Fisher was quick to note how many underclassmen played significant snaps last season, including quarterback Conner Weigman. Fisher is hopeful the experience those young guys gained last season can pay dividends this upcoming season.
“We played a lot of young players. Now you’re bringing a lot of those guys back with experience, and I think our two-deep probably has as much experience as we’ve had since we’ve been here. I feel very confident in that group. Some of your problems a year ago can be your strengths this year,” Fisher said.
“I think this is a team with a chip on its shoulder. I think it’s a team that has something to prove, and we know that. There’s nothing to hide about that, how we’ve got to play.”
#Texas #AMs #Jimbo #Fisher #added #pressure #Aggies #disappointing #season