Jimbo Fisher has become the leading candidate to replace Les Miles if LSU fires him. The connections are many, and they’re obvious – Fisher has proclaimed his love for the state, he previously coached in Baton Rouge, and the guy just won a national championship at Florida State.
Not so fast.
Fisher is in his sixth year at FSU. His first three years in the post-Bobby Bowden era were bumpy against unranked opponents, as you’ll soon see. In 2013, he had arguably one of the greatest teams in college football history – of the 22 starters on the field against Auburn in the national championship game, every player on offense made the NFL and nine on defense did, too. The other two? They’re still at FSU.
(FSU fan: Jimbo can recruit! Impartial observer: FSU has recruited itself for three decades.)
So here we are in a non-Jameis Winston year and … Jimbo Fisher has lost another game to an unranked team. The list:
2010: Lost to unranked NC State as 3.5-point favorites, 28-24
2011: Lost to unranked Wake Forest as 10-point favorites, 35-30.
2011: Lost to unranked Virginia as 17-point favorites, 14-13
2012: Lost to unranked NC State as 16-point favorites, 17-16
2013: Undefeated, National Champs
2014: Lost in playoff semifinal to Oregon
2015: Lost to unranked Georgia Tech as 6.5-point favorites, 22-16
This is not to diminish Fisher’s accomplishments. He is obviously a good coach, one of the 20 best in college football. The Seminoles have finished in the Top 10 for the last three years and may end up there again this year. It’s not always easy to keep a legacy going, even with tons of talent, as the Miami Hurricanes have found out in the last decade. (Reminder: the ACC is perhaps the weakest of the Power 5 conferences.)
Also, Fisher has had three NFL QBs who were first round picks (Christian Ponder, EJ Manuel and Winston) and the latter two are still in the league. Winston was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft and. miraculously, has the Bucs in the playoff mix in the NFC despite a disastrous start.
What’s the point? Jimbo Fisher going from the ACC to the toughest division in college football is certainly not an upgrade over Les Miles. But Jason, Les Miles has lost to unranked Arkansas two years in a row!
Yeah, Les Miles has had four losses to an unranked opponent over the last two years, and the natives are restless. (Worth noting: The 2014 and 2015 losses to Arkansas? Despite being ranked, LSU was the underdog in 2014.)
Fisher, even with loaded rosters, has been inconsistent except when he has had a first overall pick at QB. Even then, the 2014 version full of future NFL talent underachieved and repeatedly kept lesser teams in games, even as they stayed undefeated until the playoff.
Jimbo Fisher is not going to change the trend in Baton Rouge. The best move for LSU? Hire a progressive offensive coordinator and shift to the spread offense, which is the way the college games is headed.