Texas A&M has fired Jimbo Fisher. After five-plus largely mediocre seasons, the school has decided to part ways with its highly-paid head football coach. And just making that move will cost the university an incredible amount of money. Fisher had one of the most ironclad contracts in sports, one that raised eyebrows when he signed it. Texas A&M will have to pay him $76 million just to go away. The details of that buyout are staggering.
The Aggies hired Fisher away from Florida State near the end of the 2017 season. He arrived in College Station with huge expectations and armed with a fully-guaranteed 10-year, $75 million deal. Under his watch, the Aggies went 9-4 in 2018 and 8-5 in 2019 and things didn't look great. Then in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, A&M went 9-1, won the Orange Bowl and finished ranked No. 4 in both polls. There were reports Fisher could leave for LSU after that season, so the Aggies gave him a new 10-year, $95 million contract. Again, it was fully guaranteed.
Since signing that deal, Texas A&M is 19-15 and 10-13 in the SEC. It was an absolute bust of a deal. All-in, Fisher went 45-25 with the Aggies and 27-21 in the SEC. The Aggies are 6-4 this season (4-3 in the SEC) and are now poised to spend a massive amount of money just for Fisher to go away. Some of the details of his buyout follow.
Fisher will make all of that reported $76 million and there is no offset language. That means if he takes another job, the amount he gets from Texas A&M will remain unchanged. Some buyouts include language that subtracts a coach's next salary from the buyout number. Fisher could coach next year and just add it to his already hefty haul.
Texas A&M will be required to pay Fisher $19.2 million within the next 60 days, then will be paying him $7.2 million every year through 2031. The annual payments must start 120 days after his termination.
The largest previous buyout given to a college football coach was the $21.45 million Auburn had to pay Gus Malzahn after firing him in December of 2020. Fisher's obviously represents a paradigm shift considering it's more than three times bigger.
While that $76 million is bad, the buyout wouldn't have gotten much better moving forward. It would have been $67 million in 2024, $58 million in 2025, $48 million in 2026, $39 million in 2027 and so on. It was never set to drop off a cliff.
During his time at A&M, Fisher made $45 million and will make $76 million more. For that $121 million the Aggies got one top five finish in a weird COVID year that now looks like a mirage.
Fisher's deal should be a cautionary tale to athletics departments in the futures. Coaches' buyouts should be tied to performance.