COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Students at Texas A&M University expressed mixed feelings Monday about the Aggies' new head football coach, Jimbo Fisher.
“Howdy," was the first word Fisher uttered at a news conference announcing his arrival Monday. That simple word and the maroon blazer he wore indicated he was home.
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"It is truly a great honor and a privilege to be standing here before you in Aggieland today," he said.
“It’s a new opportunity for some change in the organization, spirit to be lifted,” student Meredith Johnson said.
Many hope it's the dawn of a new era.
“I think he’s gonna be a good coach," student Breonn Watson said. "I actually think he’ll fit in and maybe do better than our past two years of football.”
The last six seasons were under the leadership of Kevin Sumlin, whom the university fired last week.
It didn't take long to find and hire a replacement.
Fisher arrived in College Station on Sunday and officially took over the position on Monday morning. Three days earlier, he resigned from Florida State University, where he had spent eight seasons.
“I think it’s a great hire. I’m really excited for what he’s done. Obviously (he) won a national championship at Florida State,” student Devin Sattler said.
Fisher's 10-year contract comes with a guaranteed $75 million. It’s the richest contract in college football history.
Some students wondered if Fisher is worth it.
“It’s not my money so I don’t have any say in where it goes,” student Kathryn Guzman said.
“I do think it’s too much money. I think they make too much of a big deal out of football, more than what it should be,” Nicole Lovingshimer said.
"I think it was a great fit for us. We really needed a big name. I think that's what we were missing in Kevin Sumlin, someone that's going to come in and change our program from the bottom to the top. That's something we really needed,” student Keaton Debord said.
“Only time will tell, obviously. If (in a few) seasons, we decide he’s not worth it, then it’s gonna be a lot of money to pay,” Devin Sattler said.
“I think A&M is a huge D1 school and we need our football team to reflect that and I think that we haven’t this last couple years. So I think we need to spend the money to get us there,” Reid Parr said.
The A&M Board of Regents researched and approved the contract. Attorney Charles Schwartz, of Houston, is the board chairman. He said the hire is a big step toward building a championship team. But he said the salary would be paid for by the athletic department which, he said, is self-sufficient.
"This contract is paid 100 percent by funds raised outside of state revenue. So, stated another way, no state revenue goes to this contract," Schwartz said.
The Aggies play in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29, which Fisher will not coach, but students are already looking forward to next season.
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