Jon Gruden said no to Tennessee, and some Vols fans seem to think AD Dave Hart’s next target – make no mistake, Gruden was his top target, regardless of what you read – could be Jimbo Fisher, the underachieving coach at Florida State. With Fisher’s staff getting pillaged by Kentucky and perhaps elsewhere, it makes some sense that Jimbo might want to bail instead of stick around for another year in Tallahassee. He’s going to be losing his QB and a lot on defense to the NFL draft, but the Seminoles play in the lowly ACC and despite the losses would be favorites to win the conference again.
Is it harsh to call Fisher an underachiever? Perhaps. Seasons of 10-4, 9-4 and currently, 10-2 (with two games left) are very strong – until you dive deeper. Fisher’s only been at FSU three years since taking over for Bobby Bowden, but he’s reached two ACC title games and he’s 2-0 so far in bowl games.
Depending on how much you read into preseason polls though, Fisher has been a mild disappointment:
2010: Preseason No. 16 (AP), 15 (coaches)
2011: Preseason No. 6 (AP), 5 (coaches)
2012: Preseason No. 7 (AP), 7 (coaches)
Here’s where he’s finished each of the three years:
2010: 17, 16
2011: 23, 23
2012: Currently 13, 13
Not a fan of preseason polls? Neither am I. Let’s look at quality wins for Fisher. Everyone has their own view of what a quality win is, but the sake of this post, we’ll stick with rivalry games, bowl games, and ranked opponents.
2010: Beat 13th ranked Miami on the road, 45-17.
2010: Beat unranked Florida at home, 31-7.
2010: Beat 19th ranked South Carolina in bowl game, 36-17
2011: Beat unranked Florida in the Swamp, 21-7.
2011: Beat Notre Dame in bowl game, 18-14.
2012: Beat 10th ranked Clemson at home, 49-37.
The problem? Bad losses as huge favorites against vastly inferior teams. Or simply losing as a ranked opponent against an unranked foe. These cancel out all those quality wins.
2010: Lost at unranked NC State, 28-24
2010: Lost vs. unranked UNC, 37-35
2011: Lost at unranked Wake Forest, 35-30
2011: Lost vs unranked Virginia, 14-13
2012: Loss at unranked NC State, 17-16.
How is Fisher in big games against Top 10 teams? Again – it’s only been three years – but he’s 1-4.
0-1 lost to Oklahoma on the road 47-17 (2010)
0-2 lost to Oklahoma at home 23-13 (2011)
1-2 beat Clemson at home 49-37 (2012)
1-3 lost to Florida at home 37-26 (2012)
To be clear, I’m not calling for FSU to fire Jimbo Fisher. No way, not even close. My question – Tennessee is looking for a home run to make up for the Derek Dooley debacle. Everything I’ve heard out of Knoxville is they are not settling for anything other than a big-name coach. Is Jimbo Fisher that guy?
Tennessee is in a brutal spot. Want a retread like Al Golden? Weee! You can’t dip back into the mid-major ranks. Right now, I don’t think Charlie Strong would leave Louisville for Tennessee. My vote? I’d want Bo Pelini from Nebraska. He’d jump at the chance, since the scuttlebutt is he wants out. He’s got experience in the SEC (defensive coordinator at LSU), and even though it’s only the Big Ten, he’s done a fairly solid job in two years despite not having too much talent (19-6 heading into the Big Ten title game).