There’s what people believe to be true, and then there’s what’s actually true.
For example, while some may feel that Jimbo Fisher is a great coach, it’s been proven that Kevin Sumlin was better for Texas A&M’s football program — and cheaper, too.
Every week, the Action Network’s College Football Insider Brett McMurphy — the guy who broke the story that led to the end of Urban Meyer’s career at Ohio State — posts an image full of data that infuriates the boosters and powers that be at Texas A&M. I find it hilarious. Here’s the latest edition of the side-by-side of Sumlin and Fisher through 58 games:
The best part of that chart is the bottom line which shows their annual salary. It gets even funnier when you realize that A&M gave Fisher a raise and four-year extension in 2021 that will bump his annual salary from $7.5 million to $9 million. Mind you, this was on top of his initial contract which was a 10-year, $75 million deal. I guess A&M was still enamored with the national championship that Fisher won at Florida State in 2013, instead of realizing that he was 5-6 in his last season in Tallahassee. During his time in College Station, two nine-win seasons is the best he’s ever done, which doesn’t compare to the 11-2 season that Sumlin gave the Aggies in his first season, as he’s the guy that coached Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans.
In case you forgot, Fisher’s A&M team started the season ranked No. 6. And according to Axios, they’re going to become just the seventh preseason AP top-6 team in the past 50 years to finish with a losing record joining the likes of 2010 Texas (5-7), 2005 Tennessee (5-6), 2000 Alabama (3-8), 1984 Pittsburgh (3-7-1), 1981 Notre Dame (5-6), and 1976 Arizona State (4-7). The Aggies haven’t won since September and will play UMass on Saturday. The Aggies are on a six-game losing streak while the Minutemen have lost seven straight. Somebody has to win.
So, what does all this mean?
One, colleges love overpaying for coaches who aren’t worth their salaries. And two, colleges will underpay and fire Black coaches in a way that we don’t usually see with their white counterparts.
The numbers show that Sumlin was better for Texas A&M than Fisher, yet Sumlin didn’t get anywhere close to the money that Fisher is getting, or the opportunity to right the ship. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of what happened with Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. Two guys that both sucked at their jobs, while one got more money and chances than the other. The one caveat is that Sumlin is a way better coach than Willingham. Sumlin was 95-63 in his career coaching on Saturdays compared to Willingham’s 76-88-1 collegiate record.
There is no magic rule when it comes to choosing a coach to lead a Power 5 football program, but when you see the numbers that Brett McMurphy puts together each week showing what’s happened at Texas A&M, it’s a flaming example of the inequalities that Black coaches have dealt with for years. And for those who still choose to ignore it, just ask Kevin Sumlin about being a trivia question three times over (he was the first Black coach at Houston, Texas A&M, and Arizona).