The 2021-22 hiring cycle will always be remembered as the one that normalized the $90 million coaching contract.
Dabo Swinney actually became the first, signing a 10-year, $93 million extension in the spring of 2019, but that wasn't seen as indicative of the overall market since he was just off his second national championship in three years. Win at that level, the thinking went, and you get paid at that level. The first came before the second.
Then, just ahead of the 2021 season, Nick Saban signed an extension that will make him the first college football coach to earn eight figure in annual salary, an 8-year deal at nearly $85 million, topping out at $11.5 million in 2028. Again, not indicative of the overall market, since Saban's resume dwarfs everyone else in the sport.
And then in September, days before the 2021 season was to begin, Texas A&M's board of regents voted to extend Jimbo's landmark 10-year, $75 million contract into becoming a 10-year, $95 million deal.
This was different for a few reasons. One, Jimbo already had all the leverage he could possibly have; A&M would owe him the entire contract if he was fired, while Jimbo would owe A&M nothing to leave. Two, this was on the eve of the season. Jimbo Fisher was not leaving for another job on Sept. 2.
Coming off a 9-1 season, it seemed Texas A&M was either rewarding its coach in advance for a sure-to-come 2021 national championship, getting out in front of a mega-offer from a competing institution, or both.
Turns out, the Aggies were just ahead of its time.
This fall, Mel Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million extension to stay at Michigan State. James Franklin signed a 10-year, $75 million extension at Penn State.
Brian Kelly got a 10-year, $95 million deal to leave Notre Dame for LSU, and it's believed Lincoln Riley got that much or more to leave Oklahoma for USC. Mario Cristobal got 10 years and $80 million to ditch Oregon for Miami.
And we now know the numbers LSU was prepared to play Jimbo Fisher make those mega-deals look puny by comparison.
That number would have taken Fisher a million and a half higher than the top end of Saban's extension.
Jimbo said he'd be the dumbest human being alive to leave the class he was recruiting to Texas A&M -- the Aggies are currently No. 3 in the 247Sports Composite -- to go coach against them at LSU.
"We are going to recruit an unbelievable class here this year, so I am either the dumbest human being on God's earth who is going to recruit all these guys to A&M so I can go across, over here, and play against them," he said last month.
"If I did that, you ought to say 'That's the dumbest human being ever and I don't want him to be my coach.'"
But the contract LSU reportedly offered him was stupid money, nearly $35 million beyond what A&M gave him. So does that make him stupid or smart for passing up stupid money?
(And now here's the part where we ask the question that's likely to offend LSU and A&M fans, so we'll do it delicately, in parenthesis. Setting the money aside, are we even sure LSU would've been happy hiring a guy who's most recent game was a loss to the coach they fired midseason?)