When Texas hired A&M Jimbo Fischer in December 2017 there was a top-down structure; the Board of Regents, which introduced the President Michael Young and Young, who brought Scott Woodward as athletic director. In return, Woodward brought Fisher on with the help of the rest of the A&M hierarchy.
Woodward left in April 2019 and Young retired in December 2020 (although it was known well before that date that Young would be gone). Similar to how R. Bowen Loftin retired years earlier as President of A&M, the hierarchy was fractured and left a power vacuum. On the academic side, certain people filled it out. On the athletic side, Fisher became the strongest person and his stroke only increased after A&M won 9-1 in 2020.
However, Fisher was an old-school coach in a world that began to change in 2018 with the increased adoption of spread concepts (particularly in the passing game), particularly from Alabama. Other schools in the SEC wanted people who could mimic what the tide was doing, leading to the arrival of people like them Joe Brady at LSU in 2019. This in turn led to mike leach in the state of Mississippi, Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss, and Kendal Briles in Arkansas. Tennessee followed suit Josh Heupel in 2021.
In addition, the NCAA transfer portal offered more experienced, and therefore greater, emergency aid, while teams in the past had to rebuild via freshman or junior college transfers. However, due to player rotation, the schemes needed to be simpler and easier to teach.
The portal and dissemination combine to give schools with fewer resources a greater chance of success. Furthermore, the portal could take away (LSU only had 38 scholarship players for its bowl game in 2021), but it could also provide (Tennessee was sanctioned by the NCAA for violations in 2020 and has a team in the top five just two years later).
As such, the college football world has changed drastically between Fisher’s hiring in 2018 and the present. That leads me to the following point:
A&M fans and donors, as well as neutral observers, focused on Fisher’s offense, which doesn’t appear to have evolved because he was known for it and it was the most visible aspect of the program.
However, Fisher’s approach to the game has remained the same during this period of radical change, and that was probably more important.
Fisher has continued to do things the same way, building high school signers and trying to instill a culture and systems over the years.
Physicality matters, which means size matters. While distance has become a factor on offense, A&M remains a strong team on defense. It signed eight defenders in its youngest recruiting class.
A&M played three players against Ole Miss over 300 pounds on the defensive line and gave up almost 400 yards rushing because movement, misdirection and distance offered ways for Ole Miss’s runners to still get to the vertical.
At one point in this game 300 pounds Shemar Turner was aligned as a stand up edge rusher.
On the goal line, size doesn’t matter that much when you can get someone moving and rub a defender off a route to free him near the line of scrimmage and in space.
Something has to be given with grant limits and that was a backer where the Aggies don’t have enough players or not enough players to play in space. They need more coverage people in the backend.
For all the attention Fisher gets as an OC, his role as CEO is even more important. Like many coaches, he’s hired people he knows, but the more successful he’s become at A&M, the more he’s leaning in that direction.
Finally, people are discussing Ole Miss Boss Lane Kiffin In terms of personality, recruiting and offensive concepts, however, he has had a better program than Fisher over the past two seasons. He lacks the resources and talent that Fisher has, so he had to innovate, and not just with his plans.
While A&M was chasing Alabama and Georgia, they actually lost to Ole Miss and Mississippi State and Appalachian State. They have thrown unlimited resources at the problem, but they have done so in a different way than the rest of college football.
Current A&M football reflects its head coach as CEO as opposed to offensive coordinator.