Fisher won’t coach in the Seminoles’ game against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. The team will be coached by associate head coach and defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins.
“Coach Fisher did an exceptional job as both an assistant coach at FSU and in the challenging role of successor to the legendary Bobby Bowden,” Florida State president John Thrasher said in a statement. “I believe Texas A&M is getting one of the best coaches in college football.”
Fisher, 52, had hoped to wait to announce his decision until after Saturday’s regular-season finale, which the Seminoles (5-6, 3-5 ACC) need to win to extend their streak of 35 consecutive bowl games. The game was postponed from Sept. 9 and rescheduled to Saturday because of Hurricane Irma.
Sources told ESPN that Texas A&M officials have approved a 10-year, $75 million contract for Fisher, which is the richest deal in college football history in terms of total value. He’ll be the second highest-paid coach in the FBS with an average salary of $7.5 million, which ranks behind only Alabama‘s Nick Saban.
Saban, who has guided the Crimson Tide to four national championships in 11 seasons, agreed to an eight-year contract extension in May that will play him $65 million over the life of the deal. Saban is being paid $11.1 million this year and an average of $8.1 million.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is now the third highest-paid coach in the FBS, at an average of $6.75 million over eight years.
“Obviously, he feels like it’s the right move for him. I don’t know,” Swinney said when told of the move during a news conference for the ACC championship game. “I know he did an unbelievable job at Florida State. This is a business that’s very public, as we all know, and from time to time, you have to make decisions. … I like Jimbo. It’s been a great, competitive journey. I’ve known him forever, when I was at Alabama and he was at Auburn.
“Florida State is Florida State. They’ll hire a great coach. I don’t have any doubt about that. And I guess we’ll see [Fisher] next year, if that’s what he’s going to do. We play Texas A&M the next two years. If he is [going to the Aggies], I can’t get rid of him. He’ll still be a thorn in our side.”
When Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin on Sunday, athletic director Scott Woodward stated a desire to compete for SEC and national championships. When asked Thursday what he would be looking for in a coach, university chancellor John Sharp deadpanned, “Nothing serious, just want him to win a national championship.”
Sumlin went 51-26 in six seasons with the Aggies. Texas A&M must pay Sumlin a $10.4 million buyout by Jan. 25, and his buyout will not be reduced if he takes another coaching job.
Florida State said in its statement Friday that it would “move quickly” to evaluate candidates for the coaching position. ESPN reported last week that several Florida State officials expected Fisher to leave and have been preparing to target his replacement. Sumlin, Oregon‘s Willie Taggart, South Florida‘s Charlie Strong and Virginia Tech‘s Justin Fuente are options who might be considered.
Fisher won the BCS National Championship in 2013 with the Seminoles and was 83-23 in eight seasons as their head coach.
Texas A&M last won a conference championship in 1998, when the Aggies were members of the Big 12. The school’s lone national championship came in 1939.
Information from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Sam Khan Jr. and The Associated Press was used in this report.