As the curtain dropped on a frenzied Monday and rabid FSU fans trawled Twitter for crumbs of truth, head coach Jimbo Fisher made his final demands known.
According to sources close to the negotiations, Fisher made the following request: build a brand new, $60 million dollar football facility, the type necessary to recruit against the likes of Alabama, Clemson, and Florida, or he walks.
Florida State has been exploring options for a football-only complex for a while, hiring global architectural firm Populous to conduct studies on possible locations, but Fisher’s late-night demands ultimately proved to be too steep for Florida State.
As a result, negotiations have stalled between Fisher and Florida State, and barring something unexpected, Fisher is set to become the next head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies, multiple sources have told InsideTheACC.
Fisher has described college football as a “game of inches,” and he’s not just talking third downs: small advantages equal big gains when it comes to recruiting and player development, and facilities factor into that equation.
Fisher hinted at his ambitions when he spoke to the Orlando Sentinel a week ago about centralized player facilities:
“You have no idea. Their days are strung out … the schedules they’re on and what they’re asked to do. When you’re wasting time in between, you’re wasting development time for them…Unfortunately … when you get into the facilities business, you’re never out of it. You’re never out of development. Your company can never quit growing. Whether it’s that or behind the scenes things, support staff, all that can never happen. It can never go away. If it does, people fly by you like crazy.”
President John Thrasher probably didn’t expect to find himself haggling with Fisher again; after all, Fisher leveraged LSU rumors the last two seasons to get a contract extension through 2024 and a raise to be the 5th-highest paid coach in the country.
But Fisher’s filibuster could change the landscape of college football coaching negotiations across the country: coaches with proven value—even those coming off unsuccessful seasons—could use this model to force athletic directors back to the bargaining table year after year with demands for high-ticket items like facility upgrades, staff increases, and lust-worthy program enhancements.
Perhaps the FSU faithful should have seen it coming: in October, Fisher praised Clemson’s “commitment to football” and the recent completion of a $55 million dollar complex. His comments drew blood from boosters who were disappointed that a pre-season #3 ranking managed to deteriorate into a season that could end a 35-year bowl streak. The Seminoles must beat the University of Louisiana-Monroe in Tallahassee on Saturday to become bowl eligible.
Fisher’s departure won’t let Florida State off the hook completely. Cross-state rival Florida will break ground on a three-story, state-of-the-art $60 million football complex next month, designed by the same firm who built the stunning new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Both Miami and USF have plans to build luxury indoor practice facilities, with the Hurricanes’ new building being completed by next season.
But for now, the Seminoles find themselves scrambling for a horse on the coaching carousel, along with Arkansas, Mississippi State, Nebraska and second-rounder Tennessee.