After all the speculation over the last two years, it happened, Jimbo Fisher is officially fired from Texas A&M and now the Aggies start their search for a new football coach. Here is a list of some of the names that have been floated around out there the most.
Urban Meyer (FOX CFB Analyst)
Let’s start with the biggest and most controversial name on this list. Meyer’s success in college football was only rivaled by Nick Saban this century. He’s won everywhere he’s been, starting at his first job at Bowling Green, then to Utah where he really got on the map with an undefeated season and a Fiesta Bowl win, then he was hired at Florida and won two national championships. Then, after around a year and a half break, he was hired by Ohio State and won one championship in the span of six seasons.
Success follows Meyer everywhere in college football and it’s easy to see where he’d be successful at Texas A&M.
However, controversy has also followed Meyer at nearly every stop as well. His Florida teams featured 31 arrests by 25 players during his tenure there. He also left under a cloud of controversy at Ohio State as well. Finally, Meyer was hired to be the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach in 2021 and the entire tenure was a disaster. He was accused of being abusive to his players, but the biggest issue was that Meyer was caught on video touching a woman at a bar inappropriately after staying in Ohio after the Jaguars had already left.
Meyer is going to be a big name and it’s likely he coaches again, but there’s a question of if he’s fit there. Still, if any school wouldn’t care about the baggage he brings, it’s A&M.
Mike Elko (Duke Head Coach)
Elko feels like the most attainable guy for Texas A&M on this list. He has history with A&M and is a tough coach and is 12 years younger than Fisher. He’s known for his defense and has been a defensive coordinator at Bowling Green, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M, before he went to Duke to accept the head coaching job.
More importantly, he's done an amazing job at Duke and won nine games in year one and has won six games already this season, which is impressive considering the injuries they’ve dealt with, mainly their star quarterback, Riley Leonhard. Elko was at A&M from 2018 to 2020 and was a big key to Fisher’s best years in College Station. The highest he got the unit was ranked 9th overall in total defense in 2020.
Elko to A&M makes too much sense, but with him bolting for Duke after the 2021 season, it’s fair to ask if Elko wants to go back or if he'd rather wait for a different opportunity.
Dan Lanning (Oregon Head Coach)
Dan Lanning is a young coach that has risen through the coaching ranks extremely fast. He got his start at the Power Five level as a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh, then Arizona State and promoted to their recruiting coordinator, then after a sting at Sam Houston State, he joined Alabama as a graduate assistant, followed by a few years at Memphis, and then from 2018-2021 he was on Georgia’s staff and helped engineer one of the best defenses in modern college football in 2021 when Georgia went on to win the National Championship. Lanning became a hot commodity in coaching circles and Oregon was the team that grabbed him after Mario Cristobal left to go back to his alma mater, the University of Miami (FL).
Lanning has a massive contract buyout up to $20 million, and A&M is already paying the full $78 million to buyout Jimbo Fisher, plus they’d have to pay an additional massive contract to Lanning overall. Oregon is a nice setup for Lanning right now and Phil Knight and Nike are going to put up a fight to keep him. Lanning has his team in the Playoff hunt and there’s a lot to like with Oregon moving to the Big Ten.
Lanning seems to have things rolling at Oregon, and with the buyout it feels unlikely. He (like the guy below him) could also be waiting for the ultimate job opportunity: The chance to replace Nick Saban at Alabama one day.
Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss Head Coach)
Lane Kiffin on the surface seems like a weird fit and it seems like he genuinely loves Oxford, but after flirting with Auburn last offseason, this might be the job that gets Kiffin to listen. That could especially be the case one week after playing Georgia, and seeing just how far his program needs to go to truly compete at the highest level.
Well, Texas A&M certainly has everything needed to do just that from finances, to facilities and a very good NIL set-up.
There are a lot of positives to like, but his in-your-face personality might also rub many the wrong way. Additionally, it's hard to know if you can even get Kiffin out of his Ole Miss contract, as it was done through a private part of the university (and not athletics) meaning it isn't publicly disclosed. Right now, no one - at least publicly - knows what Kiffin's buyout actually is.
Kalen DeBoer (Washington Head Coach)
DeBoer has been an offensive genius and at Washington he’s been great in just two years, with a 21-2 record. That follows the lead he had at his first head coaching job a decade ago, when he led Sioux Falls to a 67-3 record over five years and multiple NAIA national championships. He of course had plenty of coaching stops in between.
The biggest appeal is DeBoer’s offenses, something that would be welcome after the struggles in recent years under Fisher. DeBoer’s buyout this season is only $12 million, which is something A&M can easily pay if DeBoer is interested, and he's currently only making $4.2 million a year, a number that could be doubled (or more) to get him (it's worth noting that Washington's new AD has said publicly they plan to rework Deboer's contract immediately).
DeBoer is an offensive genius and would be a great hire for A&M, but the question also needs to be asked id DeBoer wants to leave because of how well Washington is playing right now and going into the Big Ten.
Jeff Traylor (UTSA Head Coach)
Jeff Traylor might be the most underrated hire A&M could make. He is a former high school coach in the state and has relationships there recruiting-wise, which would be huge for the Aggies. He has experience in Texas, SMU, and Arkansas, before getting hired at UTSA. Traylor would be a huge get because of his roots in Texas and he’s been able to find success at a school like UTSA of all places.
He’s hit his ceiling and was looked at by a few Power Five schools last season. A&M might be too big of a name to look at him, but he fits the profile because of his local ties and his success everywhere he’s been.
His age might be a factor too because he’s 55, but he’s an x-factor for this coaching job.
Mike Norvell (Florida State Head Coach)
The Aggies already took one Florida State coach, so now it would be two in a row if Norvell were interested in going to College Station. Norvell is from Texas, so there might be a desire to go back home. Norvell got his start at Tulsa in Division 1 power football, then went to Pittsburgh and then Arizona State before being hired as the head coach at Memphis, and then eventually Florida State.
Norvell has transformed Florida State into a National Championship contender this season and has been a great recruiter. The Seminoles have been great in the transfer portal as well too. Norvell is known as a very good offensive mind too. Norvell also doesn’t have a big buyout with it currently sitting at $6 million.
Still, Norvell has finally broken through at Florida State and has gotten them back to that mountain top, would it really make sense to immediately leave after that? Florida State is the best job in the current ACC and Norvell is proving why. He’d be a very good fit at Texas A&M.
Glen Schumann (Georgia Co-Defensive Coordinator)
This might be the most outside the box option available for the Aggies, because he’s the youngest coach they would look at 33. What makes him appealing is that he has experience at the two most dominant programs in the SEC right now at Alabama and Georgia. He’s from Georgia, but went to school at Alabama. He joined the Alabama staff after as a graduate assistant and then as the director of football operations. He then went to Georgia as the inside linebackers coach and then became co-defensive coordinator in 2019 after Mel Tucker left. He’s stayed in the role after Dan Lanning was hired away to Oregon as well.
This is an outside the box hire because of his age, but his experience in college football has only been at the best two programs in the sport and that will lead to him getting a head job somewhere, maybe that opportunity is with Texas A&M.
Remember, Dan Lanning himself was a little-known assistant before Oregon brought him on two off-seasons ago. This could be another iteration of that.
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus