Texas A&M fired head coach Jimbo Fisher on Nov. 12. Fisher finished 45-25 record, including a dismal 27-21 SEC record, in slightly less than six full seasons. In a shock to many, TexAgs’ Billy Liucci reported the move last Sunday, three days after the Board of Regents met.
Elijah Robinson is off to a good start in the interim role thanks to the Aggies’ 38-10 win over Abilene Christian on Saturday afternoon. The long-time veteran assistant received the game ball after the win in the last home game of the season. Senior wide receiver Ainias Smith noted:
“I’m so proud of Coach E, so happy for him, so glad that he’s getting the things that he’s getting. I’m so glad that we got the win for him.”
“He has been doing a real good job, an amazing job. … The seniors got to present him with the game ball today. That was cool.”
While Robinson remains a candidate for the position, Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork is reportedly interviewing many candidates. Only a few names, including UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor, have been released to the public.
Heading the list of more realistic options, here are five Texas A&M head coach candidates to replace Fisher.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day
Head coach record: 56-4, three Big 10 championships
Buyout: $46 Million.
I’m really reaching here with this one, but in the current college coaching landscape, winning “The Game” for Ohio State or Michigan is all that matters for both fan bases, even after consistently earning 10 or more wins each year.
After practically inheriting the program from Urban Meyer, it would be crazy for Day to ever consider leaving. But an opportunity to coach in the SEC, coupled with building the Aggies into an instant contender with the 12-team playoff looming in 2024, could be a powerful lure — especially if Day loses to Michigan for the third straight season. Again, this is more unlikely than likely at this point.
Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer
Head coach record: (33-8 at Washington and Fresno State)
Buyout: $12 Million
Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer is likely at the top of several head coaching lists due to his immense success in just two seasons at the helm. The Huskies are 21-2, including the 11-0 mark in 2023, under DeBoer.
Washington is rolling. Barring an upset against Washington State, the Huskies will finish undefeated. They already punched their ticket to the final Pac-12 Championship.
DeBoer’s high-scoring offenses are certainly intriguing for an A&M program that has consistently struggled to move the ball in recent seasons. Still, most importantly, DeBoer has won everywhere he’s coached, including three NAIA championships during his time at Sioux Falls.
UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor
Head coach record: 31-8 (all at UTSA)
Buyout: $7 Million
It was confirmed this week that UTSA head football coach Jeff Traylor interviewed with Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork for more than an hour and a half, which may or may not mean anything. Still, it is increasingly evident Traylor is a candidate to pay attention to.
In three seasons at UTSA, Traylor has taken a once-flailing program to new heights while recruiting at a high level in the Group of Five since accepting the position before the 2020 season. A well-respected and highly accomplished Texas high school coach, Traylor is certainly intriguing, but how his success in the C-USA will translate to the SEC is a big question mark.
Duke head coach Mike Elko
Head coach record: 15-8 at Duke (only head coaching position)
Former Texas A&M defensive coordinator and current Duke head coach Mike Elko had been the primary “name to know” if anything were to happen regarding Jimbo Fisher’s future. Fast forward to Nov. 12, 2023. Fisher is on his way out, and Elko remains one of the top options for Bjork.
Elko’s four seasons in College Station were built on consistent progress. The Aggies’ defense continued to improve year after year, including his ninth-ranked unit during the 9-1 2020 season, the most successful campaign under Jimbo Fisher during his Aggie career.
Regarding relationships, Elko is close with several of A&M’s coaching staff members, including interim head coach Elijah Robinson, who would more than likely stay with the program if Elko were chosen.
Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch
Head coach record: 15-22 (Arizona and one game at UCLA)
Buyout: $6.5 Million
Jedd Fisch’s Arizona record is misleading if you haven’t been paying attention. The longtime NFL assistant coach took over a flailing program in 2021. After just two seasons, the 16th-ranked Arizona Wildcats have shocked the college football landscape. They are 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the last season of the Pac-12.
With Arizona transitioning to the Big 12 in 2024, what more does Fisch have to prove? With vast experience in both the NFL and Power Five, coaches who have faced the Wildcats this season noted the toughest and pro-like readiness his teams present is quite the sell if he indeed garners an interview.