Florida State wants Jimbo Fisher to make decision on future

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Florida State officials are urging Jimbo Fisher to decide whether he will remain the school’s football coach beyond this season or accept a lucrative offer from Texas A&M, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

Fisher, who has guided the Seminoles to the 2013 national championship and three ACC titles, is considered Texas A&M’s top target to replace Kevin Sumlin, who was fired Sunday. ESPN reported last week that several Florida State officials expect Fisher to leave and have been preparing to target his replacement.

The 52-year-old Fisher had hoped to wait to announce his decision until after Saturday’s regular-season finale against Louisiana Monroe in Tallahassee, Florida, which the Seminoles (5-6, 3-5 ACC) need to win to extend their streak of 35 consecutive bowl games. That game was postponed from Sept. 9 and rescheduled to this coming weekend because of Hurricane Irma.

Texas A&M sources have indicated to ESPN that the Aggies are prepared to make Fisher one of the sport’s three highest-paid coaches with an annual salary of more than $7 million, which would rank behind only? Alabama’s Nick Saban ($11.1 million in total compensation this year, average of $8.27 million over eight years) and would surpass? Clemson’s Dabo Swinney ($8.5 million this year, average of $6.75 million over eight years).

Texas A&M’s board of regents is scheduled to meet Thursday, when it could approve a contract offer for Fisher to become the university’s new coach. Aggies athletic director Scott Woodward worked with Fisher at LSU, where Fisher — as offensive coordinator — helped Saban guide the Tigers to a national title in 2003.

Fisher agreed to a contract extension at Florida State in December 2016, which increased his annual salary to about $5.7 million, making him the sixth-highest-paid coach in the FBS. If Fisher leaves Florida State, he would owe the university about $5 million, or the total sum of the contracts of his 10 assistant coaches who aren’t retained by the Seminoles’ new coach.

On Wednesday night, three high school prospects who were committed to the Seminoles — cornerback Houston Griffith and offensive lineman Verdis Brown of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and safety Israel Mukuamu of Parkway High in Bossier City, Louisiana — tweeted that they were decommitting from Florida State and opening up their recruitments.

Florida State officials are urging Fisher to announce his decision to try to salvage its recruiting class, which is currently ranked No. 9 in the FBS by ESPN Recruiting. The early-signing period for college football, when high school players can begin to sign national letters of intent, is from Dec. 20 to 22.

Also on Wednesday night, a Florida State fan was removed from Fisher’s weekly radio show after the fan asked Fisher about his loyalty to the Seminoles. The fan told Fisher he used to love the coach’s enthusiasm for the Seminoles.

“I remembered how you would talk about being committed to the program and cheering for the team … and talking about loyalty to the program,” the fan said. “So I’m wondering, where is the loyalty to the program, Jimbo?”

Fisher’s relationship with Florida State’s administration has deteriorated over the past several months because of his growing frustration over what he considers to be inadequate facilities, saying they have fallen behind and put the Seminoles on an uneven playing field with Clemson and SEC schools. The school agreed to explore the possibility of a new $60 million football facility, but Fisher has been frustrated that more hasn’t been done to build it.

“And those things are a major, major deal. Unfortunately, in this business, when you get into the facilities business, you’re never out of it. You’re never out of development,” Fisher said earlier this season. “Your company can never quit growing. Whether it’s that or behind-the-scenes things, support staff, all that can never happen. It can never go away.

“If it does, people fly by you like crazy. And there’s numerous examples across this country. If you don’t understand that, you’re missing the boat. Now, it all has to be relative to what you can do, when you can do it and everything else. But at the same time, if you don’t, it can pass you by very, very quickly.”

In a statement to the Tallahassee Democrat on Wednesday night, Florida State president John Thrasher said there are “always personal dynamics in play in these situations.”

If Fisher opts to leave for Texas A&M, the Seminoles are expected to consider Oregon’s Willie Taggart, Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente and South Florida’s Charlie Strong as possible replacements, among other candidates.

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