Friday, December 1, 2023

Texas’ Steve Sarkisian laments impact of in-season firings on players, staff after Jimbo Fisher’s dismissal

Texas A&M didn’t wait until the end of the season to part ways with coach Jimbo Fisher, firing the sixth-year Aggies boss on Sunday with two games still remaining in the regular season. While mid-season firings have become more commonplace due to the NCAA’s early signing period and other factors, it hasn’t exactly been a celebrated trend. Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday that while he understood why a coaching change was made by the Longhorns’ in-state rival, he was still put off by the timing.  

“When you’re firing a coach at this point in the season, you’re telling that current team ‘We’re giving up on you and all we’re worried about is the future,'” Sarkisian said, per the Austin American-Statesman. “I think that the young men in our sport work way too hard — 12 months of the year — to be given up on, and the fact that they work so hard, they’re fighting for bowl games and things and futures of their career to say ‘Hey, this season’s a wash.'”

Fisher’s firing came one day after Texas A&M posted a 51-10 home win against Mississippi State, moving the Aggies to six wins and bowl eligibility. Nonetheless, a 6-4 mark through Week 11 had Texas A&M on track for another disappointing finish under Fisher, who arrived to College Station back in December 2017 with national championship expectations. The Aggies finished an overall 45-25 under his watch, never winning the SEC West. 

Sarkisian also emphasized that it’s not just the coach’s livelihood that is impacted when a change is made, regardless of the school.

“Everybody wants to just point to the head coach getting fired, when in actuality, a lot of people are eventually out of jobs and need to go find jobs, and they’re getting relocated, and kids are changing schools,” Sarkisian said. “When you live that and you see the effect it has on your kids, that’s a lot. It takes a toll.”

Fisher’s exit made Texas A&M the first Power Five school to part ways with a coach for performance this season. The Aggies were then joined by the very team they beat Saturday when Mississippi State fired coach Zach Arnett after less than one full season. Arnett took over following the death of Mike Leach in December 2022.

Texas A&M’s coaching change means that a new face will be in place for the Aggies when Texas joins them in the SEC in 2024 with the rivals set to square off for the first time since 2011. The Longhorns are currently 9-1 and in the College Football Playoff discussion in their last year of Big 12 membership. 

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