Jimbo Fisher’s 10-year, $75 million contract with Texas A&M is fully guaranteed, making it the richest guarantee ever in one college football coaching deal. It turns out that contract is even better (for Fisher) than we already knew it was. And it was already pretty great!
The Houston Chronicle obtained a copy of Fisher’s full contract. (For at least the first half-year or so of his time at A&M, Fisher had been working under a memorandum of understanding that didn’t spell out the full terms of his agreement with the Aggies.)
Fisher’s full contract reveals an incredible detail. I mean, incredible for Fisher, but also incredible in a different way on Texas A&M’s part.
If Fisher decides to leave College Station for another job before his 10-year deal is up, the team hiring him away will owe the Aggies a total of ....
Wait for it ...
You’re really not going to believe this ...
OK, I’m going to tell you:
Zero dollars and zero cents!
Fisher and/or his new school owe A&M exactly nothing if he leaves.
It’s exceedingly common for college coaching contracts to have buyout provisions for each side. If the school fires the coach for losing too many games, he usually gets some fraction of the money that remains. That’s not how Fisher’s deal works. We already knew that his $75 million was all guaranteed, making it really hard for A&M to fire him for any reason.
The Aggies appear to have gotten some kind of pinky swear from Fisher that he’s just never going to leave them, so a buyout wasn’t necessary.
Here’s the passage in the contract, which notes that Fisher “recognizes his promise to work for the University for the entire term of his Agreement is important to the University” and that A&M is making a “valuable investment in his continued employment.” But, there’s no financial obligation for Fisher if he takes another job during the next decade:
When A&M hired Fisher away from Florida State in December 2017, the Seminoles got paid, because Fisher’s deal had a buyout clause in it.
It cost the Aggies about $5 million to FSU to hire him away.
Fisher isn’t the only star coach not to have a buyout if he leaves, but it’s absolutely amazing that A&M would be cool with this.
Fisher almost left Florida State for LSU the year before he actually left for College Station. His tenure in Tallahassee had gone badly sour despite winning a national championship only four years earlier, and his name had repeatedly come up in discussions for other jobs.
And the Aggies just up and decided that they’d a) give Fisher a $75 million guarantee, and b) let Fisher leave for nothing if he gets a job offer he prefers?
Fisher might not be worth $75 million over 10 years. But if another school tries to hire him away from A&M, that’ll be a sign that things are probably going pretty well for the Aggies. Texas A&M probably won’t want to lose Fisher, if that’s the case. But the school won’t get any financial reward if a team hires away the guy they just handed a huge bag of money.
A&M seems to have a hard time with buyout negotiations, generally.
Kevin Sumlin, the coach the Aggies fired to hire Fisher, had a $10.4 million buyout. Unlike most coaching contracts, his didn’t have offset language that shrank A&M’s obligations if he got a job elsewhere. So now Sumlin is getting paid millions to be the head coach at Arizona, and A&M still had to pay him everything it otherwise would’ve.