Texas A&M University is expected to announce the hire of former Florida State University Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher today. The university confirmed Friday Fisher would be leaving after more than a week of uncertainty over the future of the school’s hallmark athletics program.
This past weekend, FSU Defensive Coach Odell Haggins stepped into the head coaching position, leading the Seminoles to a 42-to-10 victory over the University of Louisiana-Monroe. It was a win, Haggins says, that was much more for his players, than for him, after a season full of tough losses, injuries, and ultimately the departure of the school’s head football coach, Jimbo Fisher.
“I’m so happy for our kids," he said. " It’s not about Odell, the interim. I’m honored to be named that, I’m just happy for our kids.”
This win makes FSU eligible to play in a bowl game, marking the schools 36th straight appearance in a bowl—the longest streak in the nation. The Seminole football program hasn’t had a losing season since 1976. During the past week the rumor mill churned, reaching a peak when, during a taping of the Jimbo Fisher show, a fan questioned Fisher about whether he was loyal to FSU’s program:
“It’s been kind of a tough season and I remember watching a couple of your press conferences and how you would talk about being committed to the program and how we need to cheer for the team, and be loyal to the program," the man said. "So I’m wondering, where’s the loyalty to the program, Jimbo?”
The man got the boot, and Fisher insisted he would coach the final game of the season. But Friday in statements, University President John Thrasher and Athletics Director Stan Wilcox announced Fisher’s departure.
Speaking to reporters after Saturday’s game, the players say, they were hurt when they got the news their head coach was leaving.
“To tell you the truth, with what happened with Coach Fisher, it really affected a lot of us, just seeing him gone," said Derrick Nnadi. "It's been hard. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you," said Alec Eberle. "It's definitely hard. Seeing someone you care about leave."
And Derrick James called the 36 hours in the run-up to Saturday's game, "emotional. Very, very emotional."
Haggins says that sentiment is widespread, because at the end of the day, even though they’re top level college athletes, "they’re humans. Eighteen-to-22 year old kids,” and the coaches, including Fisher, close mentors.
Texas A&M University is expected to sign a contract and announce Fisher’s hiring Monday. Meanwhile, Haggins says, the FSU Football program isn’t about one person, and that it will continue moving on. And he had kind words about and for, Fisher.
“I think coach Fisher should be remembered as a leader. He was a great coach and mentor," he said.
Fisher served eight seasons at Florida State, leading the Seminoles to a national championship in 2013. The university is launching its first national search in 40 years for a new head coach. But the school already has a short list of names. Haggins says he’s not one of them.