LSU really messed up by not getting Jimbo Fisher when he was available as he ever will be.
This was the year to strike, with no College Football Playoff possibility for Florida State and no reason for Jimbo to delay a decision until January.
This time next year the Seminoles could be right back in the national championship chase. LSU, meanwhile, will probably be licking its wounds after getting aced out again by Alabama in the SEC West.
Ed Orgeron isn’t the guy you need to catch and pass Nick Saban. If he coaxes Lane Kiffin from Alabama to run the Tigers’ offense, it would be closer to reality, but why wouldn’t Kiffin hold out for a head coaching job or stick with the No. 1 team?
Orgeron was 3-21 against SEC teams in a previous head coaching opportunity at Ole Miss from 2005-07, and Saban didn’t even have Alabama up and running until 2008.
Jimbo, on the other hand, is an elite coach. He’s one of four active coaches with a national championship, joining Saban, Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops.
He’s a recruiter persuasive enough to get Alabama native Jameis Winston to Tallahassee instead of Tuscaloosa.
Also, he’s close enough to his players to find and push all their buttons, including the ones that make them go out and pound Florida on a week when their head coach is being rumored as the top candidate at another school.
If you want all of that, you’ve got to pay for it, in the same way that Alabama broke the bank for Saban.
Instead, Jimbo is out on the recruiting trail, avoiding the kind of big rebuild that new Texas coach Tom Herman is facing. Everything is in place for many more great seasons with the Seminoles. Jimbo has seen and will see to that.
This is such massive news for FSU, but there may actually be people who don’t fully appreciate it. The monotony of beating both Florida and Miami the last four years makes it seem as if such dominance is automatic. It is not.
The jackpot of getting superstars like Dalvin Cook to play for FSU instead of Florida or Miami is impossible to quantify.
The disappointment of not playing for a national title every season? Beyond being a little silly, that’s missing the larger point.
If Jimbo’s not your head coach, who would be better to lead the Seminoles?
The name of Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt keeps coming up as a possible replacement one day. He called the defensive plays for Jimbo during FSU’s national championship season of 2013, but Pruitt has never been a head coach.
Kirby Smart, another highly-regarded Alabama defensive coordinator, was in a similar position when he got the Georgia head coaching job. Favored to win the SEC East in the preseason, he is working on a 7-5 debut with home losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech and a dud of a performance against Florida in Jacksonville.
A guy like Pruitt probably does better than that with the talent Jimbo has put together at FSU, but wouldn’t you just rather have Jimbo?
Other names tossed around as possible FSU coaches during the period of LSU’s flirtation with Jimbo include North Carolina’s Larry Fedora (coming off losses to 4-8 Duke and 6-6 North Carolina State in the last three weeks), Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (if he finishes in Top Ten, that will make twice in 12 seasons at Stillwater), Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre (turning Buffs around but his only postseason experience as head coach is a Military Bowl victory over Bowling Green) and Chip Kelly (brilliant run at Oregon but he’s on an NFL kick now and seems to have lost his momentum).
I even saw Les Miles’ name come up as a person for FSU to call in a pinch. That would be taking the guy LSU fired to replace the guy LSU hired. That would be taking a guy who misses so many details and loses games over penalties and a general lack of discipline.
Remember that game a few weeks ago where LSU lost to Florida despite being a two-touchdown favorite at home? Orgeron said his running back ran the wrong way on the goal-line stop that won the game for the Gators, leaping over the middle instead of looking for a short toss around the end. That’s the kind of game Miles sometimes lost, and the kind of game that always had Tiger fans calling for his head.
Bottom line, Jimbo’s decision to stay at FSU is far bigger news than Herman going to Texas or any other coaching switch.
We’ll see that when FSU plays Alabama or Ohio State or Michigan or Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff sometime in the next few years. Those are the teams with heavyweight coaches and monster programs all tied up tight and looking for more.
Those are the only situations, apparently, that would ever convince Jimbo to leave and try his hand somewhere else. LSU either didn’t make the cut or wouldn’t pay the price.
In the end, it comes out to be the same thing.