On Sunday, Texas A&M finally fired Jimbo Fisher, the head football coach it’d introduced in December 2017 as the university’s $75 million man. Fisher’s tenure at the university was inauspicious—over his six seasons, the Aggies failed to play for so much as a conference title, let alone the national championship that boosters imagined Fisher might bring to College Station. The program has spent most of the past three seasons unranked in the Associated Press poll, becoming an irrelevant feature on the college football landscape and almost a de facto bye week for the real powers in the Southeastern Conference, like Alabama.
Now the Aggies are free of Fisher—but not, alas, free of his hefty salary, which, following his 2021 contract extension, means the university will have to pay him a whopping $77 million to sit at home and not coach its football team. (Incidentally, if anyone would like me to not coach your football team, I’ll do it at half the price.) That’s to say nothing of the many millions of dollars Fisher earned for his middling time leading the program, nor any remaining buyouts for A&M assistants whose replacements will be hired by whomever the university decides to name as its next overpaid head coach. It’s good work if you can get it!
Still, given that Texas A&M is a public university, we’ve all got a little bit of skin in the game when it comes to considering how else that $77 million could be spent. There are lots of ideas about this, so let’s take a look at what else that money could have bought.
125 Additional Professors Per Year Over the Next Six Years
According to Glassdoor, the median total pay for a professor at Texas A&M is $102,253 a year. Fisher coached the Aggies for six seasons. How many professors per year would his $77 million buyout pay for over that same amount of time? More than a hundred (125.5, specifically, though how you hire half a professor is a question for another day), which would go some way toward improving A&M’s 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio, which compares unfavorably to the national average of 14:1. Bonus: if the Aggies still want to get a benefit to the football program out of it, all that additional brainpower they’d be hiring could sit down and come up with a comprehensive strategy to pull the team out of the muck.
1,666 Four-Year Scholarships
Texas A&M is not a cheap school; with annual tuition of $11,550 for in-state students, a four-year degree from the university costs roughly $46,200. That sounds like a big number, until you consider that more than 1,600 young scholars could attend the university without paying for classes if A&M redirected Fisher’s buyout to four-year full-tuition scholarships. Need to justify it to the football program’s boosters? Maybe you could put those young minds to work trying to come up with a plan to finally bring the Aggies a national title, which the program hasn’t earned since 1939.
135 Softball Coaches
In June 2022, A&M hired Trisha Ford to lead its softball program. While her debut season left room for improvement—the Aggies were eliminated from the NCAA tournament in the second round—her .625 regular-season record is comparable to Fisher’s, and she delivered the program its highest season-long conference win total since 2018. That ain’t bad for a debut. And, critically, Ford accomplished all of this with a salary of $570,000—which is good enough to make her the highest-paid women’s softball coach in the NCAA, but also a mere 135th of what A&M will pay Fisher to not coach football.
114,000 Chances for Rick Perry to Improve His Grade in Meats
Aggie alum, former Texas governor, and former United States secretary of energy Rick Perry famously earned a D in an A&M class called Meats. The course, part of the animal science department, is worth three credit hours, which means it costs $675 to take. Should the former governor wish to remove the Meats stain from his grade point average, the $77 million going toward Fisher’s buyout would give Rick approximately 114,000 opportunities to get over the hump.
More Than 17 Billion Goldfish Crackers
A sum like $77 million is hard for most of us to fully grasp. Is it enough money to never think about your finances again for the rest of your life? Barring some breathtaking feat of mismanagement, it absolutely is. So how much money is it, really? Let’s imagine it as Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. A 1-ounce package of fishy crackers contains roughly 50 of the li’l orange snacks. One can purchase a 66-ounce package of them—that is, slightly more than four pounds of baked cheddar goodness—for about fifteen bucks. At that rate, you could take home 21,159,517 pounds of fishy crackers for that Jimbo Fisher money, or 17,030,831,099 individual crackers. That’s enough for each of A&M’s 74,829-odd students to enjoy 227,596 of the little crackers, or nearly three hundred pounds of Goldfish per student. All of which is to say: that’s so much money, and so many fishy crackers! We hope this is what Fisher does with the money. We hope he builds a giant swimming pool and fills it up with Goldfish and swims through it. That would make about as much sense as A&M’s decision to leave him set for life as a reward for not accomplishing any of the things he was hired to do.