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You Wanna Go All-In On a Guy Named Jimbo?

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The risk doesn't match the reward

Your call, Tiger fans
Your call, Tiger fans
Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get one thing out of the way first: Jimbo Fisher is a good football coach. You don't climb up the ladder to get a prestigious job like Florida St, and then win the national title, without knowing what you're doing. Jimbo is good at his job.

He's just not great at it, and he's the wrong coach for LSU.

If LSU hires Jimbo Fisher, it will likely make him one of the highest paid coaches in college football in order to pry him away from his current job. He makes $5.25 million right now. Harbaugh makes $9 million, Saban just shy of $7 million, and Urban $6 million. Fisher would need to be paid accordingly to make the move, and that's before we get into his $5 million buyout.*

Poseur's Note: I'm even gonna make this case without mentioning any of this. It's going to be 100% on the field football content. But we should place some value on the off the field stuff, and I'll let you determine how much on your own.

I'm going out on this limb: he's not as good as Saban and Urban. He's not worth the cash, and the tremendous investment LSU would place in him. LSU would be better paying less to the head coach and spreading that money to the assistants. Let's keep Dave Aranda happy.

There Are No Second Acts

I know, I know. He won a national title. So did Gene Chizik, and he's available right now, too. Winning a national title is hard, winning it at two different schools is nigh on impossible. Since World War II, only two coaches have won a national title at two different schools: Saban and Urban. Heck, there's only four coaches alive who have won three national titles, period (Osborne and Switzer are the other two).

Forget national titles, second acts are difficult. Jimbo Fisher has been a head coach for seven years, and what we're potentially investing in is that his second decade will be like the first. The odds of that being true are not good.

Among the top thirty active coaches in winning percentage, 13 have been active for ten years and coached at more than one school. Of these 13 coaches, only three have posted a higher winning percentage at their current job than over their career average: Saban and Urban of course, plus Bobby Petrino. That's the list. Everyone else declined.

Remember, this isn't the dregs of college football or anything, these are the active coaches with the 30 best winning percentages. This is the top of the sport. The most successful guys out there, and outside of two of the greatest coaches in history (and Bobby Petrino), no one could sustain their success in the second decade.

Jimbo's Offense Wasn't as Good as You Remember

I know we've been wandering through the desert in regards to offensive productivity, so there's a tendency to look back at the good ol' days when we could light up the scoreboard. Part of the allure of Jimbo is those wonderful offenses he ran when he was an elite co-ordinator.

Well, he was never all that elite of an OC. Remember how outstanding Tom Herman's ordinal rankings were regardless of where he was at (except Iowa St)? He was a guy who demonstrated a talent for putting up yards and points, no matter the situation. Jimbo? Not so much.

LSU

G

Pts

PPG

Rank

YPG

Rank

YPP

Rank

2000

12

320

26.67

55

376.4

54

5.5

45

2001

13

418

32.15

29

451.5

10

6.3

9

2002

13

323

24.85

75

350

86

5.2

73

2003

14

475

33.93

19

418.4

31

5.9

28

2004

12

344

28.67

42

395.6

39

5.8

30

2005

13

383

29.46

43

374.1

60

5.6

44

2006

13

438

33.69

9

417.5

11

6.6

7

Avg

29.92

38.86

397.64

41.57

5.84

33.71

FSU

G

Pts

PPG

Rank

YPG

Rank

YPP

Rank

2007

13

303

23.31

91

369.2

81

5.3

73

2008

13

434

33.38

22

369.6

54

5.52

51

2009

11

291

30.10

32

420.5

29

6.36

15

Avg

28.93

48.33

386.43

54.67

5.73

46.33

Yes, when Jimbo had the greatest quarterback in LSU history aside from Bert Jones, he racked up near top 10 marks in points per game, yards per game, and yards per play. 2006 was a masterpiece. It is also a complete outlier from the rest of his statistical record.

On average, LSU was a middle of the pack offensive team under Jimbo, and that continued under Florida St. His offenses were never terrible, aside from 2002 and his first year at FSU, but they were never great either.

Nothing on this resume screams offensive genius, nor does it point to a guy who can outrun the averages regarding coaches declining in their second decade. Nothing in his record points to a guy who can be Saban or Urban, and be an all-time great. Frankly, there's more evidence he's a better version of Gene Chizik, a guy who happened upon a terrific quarterback and won a national title. Now, unlike Chizik, Jimbo gets credit for recruiting and developing Winston. He's a quarterback guy, while Chizik was a defensive specialist. Jimbo gets more credit for the great quarterback, which is why he still has a job and Chizik doesn't.

While FSU's post-Winston decline isn't grounds for firing Jimbo, nor is it grounds for him to earn a huge payday. What in this man's record tells you that LSU needs to break the bank to go get him?

The only coaches who have been able to buck the historical trends regarding decline have been the truly exceptional coaches of Saban and Meyer. It's no insult to a man to say he's not a historically great coach, but LSU needs to come the realization before it goes all-in. They will pay Jimbo to be among the best ever, and he's simply not on that level. And LSU is not such a money machine in relation to its rivals that it can throw big money away.

Florida St Is Declining

But Jimbo can buck the trend, right? Why, look how successful he is at Florida St! He's certainly going to keep the train a-rolling right here in Baton Rouge. He's the guy who is going to turn things around? Well, I want you to look at two stats:

15-6: LSU's record over the past two seasons
17-6: FSU's record over the past two seasons

Be still my beating heart. If you're planning on Jimbo being a savior, it's important to note that Florida St. has looked exactly like LSU over the past two seasons. A good, not great team. Let's not even mention the difference in quality of competition. And, yes, you can mentally add two wins for LSU over cancelled bodybag games.

Jimbo Fisher rode a terrific generational talent at quarterback to a national title. Outside of the two years with Jameis Winston, he's been a far more ordinary coach. This just in, Winston is not part of the package deal, and I'm pretty sure he's out of eligibility.

Fisher is 76-16 as FSU's coach, which is an impressive mark. Jameis Winston was 27-1 as a starter, which is even more impressive. Outside of the Winston years, Jimbo is 49-15 as a coach. That's still a good mark, but Les Miles was 37-14 in his last four full seasons, which is roughly the same quality of resume if we adjust for schedule difficulty.

But this isn't about Les, this about whether Jimbo can come here and beat Alabama and Nick Saban. Why on earth would we believe he could do that given that he can't beat Clemson consistently, and Florida St. owns pretty much every institutional advantage over Clemson. If he comes to LSU, the roles will be reversed, and Jimbo will be climbing uphill at Alabama.

Over the past six seasons, Clemson is 40-7 in the ACC, while FSU is 38-9. Even with the white-hot brilliance of Jameis Winston's two consecutive undefeated seasons, Clemson has the edge over their more established rival:

Clemson

FSU

W

L

W

L

2011

6

2

5

3

2012

7

1

7

1

2013

7

1

8

0

2014

6

2

8

0

2015

8

0

6

2

2016

6

1

4

3

TOTAL

40

7

38

9

Florida St is 10-5 in its last two seasons. If both LSU and FSU win out to close their seasons, then Florida St will have the same exact conference record of 11-5 as LSU will over the past two years. If I'm paying a $5 million buyout plus at least a $6 million salary, I want results BETTER than we currently have, not the same.

Great coaches dominate their rivals. Saban has driven pretty much the entire SEC coaching establishment into retirement or exile. Urban is largely running roughshod over the Big Ten. Now, I can understand fighting another great coach to a standstill, but who is Jimbo dominating?

The ACC has had a recent influx of coaching talent, and they are gaining on Florida St. Florida St. will always hold the edge due to its vast advantages in recruiting, but Jimbo has not pushed those institutional advantages into dominance. He's 4-3 against Dabo, even as Clemson slowly pulls itself ahead on the ACC mountain. He's 2-1 against Petrino, the same record he has against Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech. He beat Mark Richt in his first year at Miami, but lost to UNC in his only matchup with Larry Fedora. He's yet to play Fuente.

Again, those are good numbers. He's winning, and he holds the slight edge head-to-head over most of his ACC rivals. But he should hold the edge. Florida St. is the 800-pound gorilla of that conference, and no one has remotely the same resources. It's not like the SEC arms race. Or, if it is, FSU is Bama, and Jimbo's Florida St is not performing in the same league as Saban's Alabama.

The Cost

So how would he do when he doesn't have an easier schedule and nearly every advantage possible over the competition? LSU shouldn't plunk down the $11 million (in just his first year) it would take to find out. It's like going all in with pocket jacks. That's a really good hand, but you know what? It's a good hand that's likely to lose if anyone calls you.

And it's not just the $11 million in the first year, Jimbo will likely make $6-7 million every year, and he'll have a hefty buyout. So if LSU gives him a five-year contract, that could be about a $40 million commitment. Do you want to to make a $40 million gamble on a guy with this track record, and who is performing at roughly the same level at FSU as LSU did under Miles the past two seasons?

Then, it's not just the money. LSU has a pretty stacked staff overall, and Jimbo isn't going to want to come here and not bring some of his guys. One of his primary attributes is his loyalty (sound familiar?), and he's going to want to make his own mark on the staff. You don't pay a guy that much and tell him he can't hire anybody.

That means not just that Ed Orgeron, the recruiting god, leaves. It means that nobody's job is safe, not even Dave Aranda or Corey Raymond. And even if their job is safe, will they want to stay? And do you want to recruit next year against an Alabama program that added Ed Orgeron as its recruiting co-ordinator? Don't think it could happen? Then you haven't being paying attention.

Does LSU want to pay between $30 and $40 million to bring in a guy with Jimbo's track record at the additional cost of likely blowing up the staff? Jimbo does not have the best track record when it comes to working well with others, and our coaches with options might exercise them. That's like having those pocket jacks but dealing Alabama an ace from the bottom of the deck.

LSU needs to know when to walk away from the table. Jimbo is a good coach, but he's not worth going all in for. Paying a guy like he's Saban or Urban does not make him Saban or Urban.