The Texas A&M football coaching job is now open after the Aggies fired Jimbo Fisher on Sunday morning. After the dust settled on this major coaching shift in the world of college football, the next question is simple:
who is going to be dumb enough who is going to be the next head coach of Texas A&M?
Before we provide a list of potential candidates in College Station, let’s talk about what A&M has to offer, both the good and the bad. Maybe a little bit of ugly too.
There is SO. MUCH. MONEY. The last guy that got fired is getting paid $76 million in buyout money, and with all of the assistant coaches potentially getting canned as well there’s about $100 million in guarantees being shelled out. While that could be seen as a hindrance because the money fund will be low, there’s an easy counterpoint: it’s Texas A&M. They never not have money. Not only that, they’re willing to spend big to be good at football. Their facilities are massive and the NIL fund is constantly getting higher. They want to be great, and are willing to spend big to get there.
You might be losing out on a LOT of Jimbo’s recruits. Texas A&M has been doing a lot of work in the recruiting area, a few years ago they signed one of the highest ranked recruiting classes of all time. However, with Fisher gone, there’s some reasonable expectation that some of his guys hit the portal. Aggie players can enter the portal within 30 days after Fisher’s firing, and a lot of former five-star recruits could be on their way out. Four-star freshman WR Raymond Cottrell entered the portal shortly after Fisher was fired, and he might not be the only one.
You better win, and win big. With the SEC expanding to bring in A&M rival Texas next year, the pressure is going to be on for the next coach to win as soon as they step on campus. Fisher had lagged behind his contemporaries both in the conference and among the CFB mega-powers, and finding a way to get to that point is what A&M is hiring for. If you can’t do it soon, you might be out of a job.
Mike Elko, Duke
Duke HC Mike Elko is the most realistic candidate for the Texas A&M job. He’s the former defensive coordinator for the Aggies who left in 2021 and since then has turned Duke football not only into a respectable outfit, but at one point the Blue Devils were ranked in the top 15 this season. He’s a well-liked coach who has also been able to get some great coaches on his staff and develop players. This feels like a shoo-in.
Dan Lanning, Oregon
This is probably the dream hire for the Aggies. Lanning is currently in the middle of leading the Ducks on a Pac-12 title charge, but if A&M wanted to swing for the fences, they hire Lanning. He’s brought SEC-level physicality to the Ducks team and is also from the Georgia coaching development program, so you can bring that into your room if you want. However, it’s worth asking if Lanning actually wants the A&M job. Oregon is going to the Big Ten next year, so money will be there. He doesn’t have the same booster group on his back, and he’s already established a winning culture there. I doubt he goes, but Lanning in College Station would be a home run.
Jeff Traylor, UTSA
This would be a heck of a rise for Traylor, who was coaching high school football in Texas a decade ago. That’s the big push for Traylor, someone who is loved and respected among Texas high school coaches, so you can keep that recruiting level high. On the field, UTSA has produced some of the best offenses the Group of Five has seen, and he’s turned that program around since being hired in 2019. He wouldn’t be as big of a name as Lanning or Elko, but Jeff Traylor would be a phenomenal hire at Texas A&M.
Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss
If you want fun offense and a coach with SEC experience, you go to Kiffin. He’s guided some of the most explosive offenses in football while at Ole Miss and gotten them to consistent top ten rankings. Kiffin is also going to be very outspoken, which might not be something the boosters want considering the last guy they hired, but Kiffin will turn the Aggie offense completely around if he were hired as the head coach.
Kalen DeBoer, Washington
DeBoer would be kind of an odd fit considering his recruiting map and expertise is more on the West Coast, but you cannot deny that his offenses absolutely rock. He’s won at multiple levels of the sport, and is currently guiding the Washington Huskies to an undefeated record. He would also come in and flip the offense completely around and bring the Aggies into a modern age when it comes to football, but luring him away from UW could face the same problems as luring Lanning from Oregon.
Glenn Schumann, defensive coordinator, Georgia
Getting Schumann away from Georgia would be a heavy ask, but it could lead to a major ROI. Schumann has been the right hand man to Kirby Smart and those Georgia defenses since Lanning went to Oregon, and it’s only a matter of time before Schumann gets his first swing at being a head coach somewhere. He did go to high school in Texas as well, so it’s not a complete shot in the dark.
Now, we get to the, “it’ll never happen but we have to mention it because Texas A&M wants a big fish and they’re not afraid of blowback” section.
Deion Sanders, Colorado
I don’t think this is going to happen, this year. With Sanders wanting to coach his son Shedeur and WR/DB Travis Hunter through to the draft, Sanders might just stay at Colorado until they leave. Sanders is eligible this year, but I doubt he enters the draft. Hunter is a true sophomore. Taking the A&M job and transferring both Sanders and Hunter again just wouldn’t make sense.
Lincoln Riley, USC
One, I don’t think Lincoln Riley wants to coach in the SEC. I think that’s a small part of why he left Oklahoma for USC. Two, if Riley is going anywhere, I think he’s going to the NFL. I don’t think he likes or wants to recruit anymore, and would just love to draw up different variations of Mesh.
Dabo Swinney, Clemson
I really doubt this, but if Swinney feels like he’s done all he can do at Clemson and wants to make the jump to the SEC, this is about as good of an off ramp as you’re going to get within the next 3 years. However, if Swinney is mad about people raising expectations at Clemson...