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A&M Better Be Sure

By Jim Johnson
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For Texas A&M to fire Kevin Sumlin, their brass better be absolutely certain that Jimbo Fisher is 100% in as his replacement.

For Texas A&M to fire Kevin Sumlin, their brass better be absolutely certain that Jimbo Fisher is 100% in as his replacement.

If Fisher takes the job, it was the unassailable correct decision.

If Fisher doesn’t, assail away.

For this to end up in a typical coaching search would be an unmitigated disaster for the Aggies.

If a coach is actively making a program worse or diminishing its value, as a brand, sure, fire them and figure out his replacement on the fly. Sometimes it’s a necessary recourse.

Kevin Sumlin does not fit that bill.

If a coach, as Sumlin did, raised the profile of a given program and, quite literally, altered the prism through which success is viewed for that job, it’s a different story. Similar to Mark Richt at Georgia, Sumlin built the very machine that cost him his job.

Now, that doesn’t mean he should be untouchable, there’s something to be said for avoiding complacency and taking advantage of the new normal that has been established, but the question arises... who is the replacement?

To fire a coach, with no set-in-stone plan, and hope that the new coach can continue to push the program forward, is idiotic. That may come to fruition, but it seems just as likely that the replacement could oversee a programmatic regression, back into mediocrity. Why flip that coin.

That being said, to allow a very good coach, in Kevin Sumlin, to push Texas A&M into a higher tier within the college football hierarchy, see that he may have hit his ceiling, set a plan in motion to replace him with one of the four best coaches in the sport, and execute it only when it was a certainty on all sides, is an athletic director’s version of dialing up a perfectly timed and orchestrated wheel route -- a thing of complete and utter beauty.

There are a number of what could be, and by their respective fan bases have been, called ‘sleeping giants’ in college football. Texas A&M ought to be considered chief amongst them, thanks in large part to Kevin Sumlin’s contributions.

Practically speaking, what’s really the difference between Texas A&M, today, and Clemson, before Dabo Swinney? A national championship after 1939? Fine, but at the time of Swinney’s promotion that trophy was a decade older than anyone he was recruiting.

The difference between Clemson and Texas A&M, right now, is that Clemson has one of the four best coaches in college football. Jimbo Fisher evens the playing field.

Clemson doesn’t have as much in-state competition for recruits, but there’s less in-state talent, so that, more or less, evens itself out.

Clemson is second, nationally, in total assistant pay; Texas A&M is fourth. The difference is negligible.

Both have wildly passionate fan bases that were correct in thinking that they were sleeping giants.

The thing is, there are a lot of sleeping giants, relatively. The problem is that only a handful of coaches are capable of waking them up.

Swinney was capable and Clemson is reaping the benefits. Fisher is too.

They just better be damn sure that he is, to, fittingly, borrow a Clemson hashtag, #AllIn with the Aggies.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP