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James(Bo) and the Giant Speech

Where do we go from here?

Auburn v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

My apologies to Roald Dahl but I’ve never read the book James and the Giant Peach so I’m not sure if the trajectory of Jimbo’s summer thus far aligns with what happens in the book. If it does then great! It was totally intentional. If it wasn’t then clearly I didn't mean it and was just trying to create a catchy title.

I think all of us have some Jimbo/Saban fatigue right now. Did Saban really mean to go all out in his accusations not only pointing a finger to A&M but also to Deion Sanders? Probably not…I think it’s likely he was trying to rally the donor base and went a little further than he intended to. Did Jimbo really need to go on the tirade he went on? That’s a great question!

Either way, this was a spat between two dudes cut from the same West Virginia cloth. Saban is mad that Jimbo beat him in College Station and took some croots, Jimbo is mad that he’s not getting any credit for the class he pulled in. In the grand scheme of things, this war of words doesn't really matter to anyone except reporters and rivals posting on message boards.

What does it all mean?

I’m a conflict-averse person and therefore I haven’t watched all of Jimbo’s press conference. I appreciate the fact that he went to bat for his program—I feel like any coach would and could do the same. From what I’ve seen his response was deeply personal, it wasn’t just about defending the program's honor—Saban’s comments put a chip on Jimbo’s shoulder and he’s come out firing every time he’s been asked about anything football or recruiting-related.

Going back to that conflict-averse thing...conflict is pointless to me if it's not productive. So to that end, none of this matters if it doesn't translate to the field. Jimbo wrote a check this summer with his comments about Saban…and now the pressure is on to cash that check with the season. But you know what? I kinda think that’s a good thing. At the most surface level, it’s the same kind of check that Jimbo wrote last summer with the “we’re gonna beat his ass while he’s still here” comment to which Saban responded with “in golf?” And Jimbo responded with a 41-38 win despite gaining only three (3) yards in the third quarter.

I’d guess that “in golf?” response made the win that much sweeter. Jimbo is better when he’s told he cant do something. More on that in a bit.

My 2 cent philosophical view on Jimbo

When Jimbo got that original 75 million dollar contract the natural question was how motivated can a dude making a guaranteed 75 mil be? Similarly, with this new contract extension, there’s a natural question associated with how motivated a dude is to earn a check when the rather large check is going to be there whether he “earns” it or not.

But here’s the maddening thing about Jimbo that I’ve noticed over the past four years. The dude can turn it on when he wants to. And by “it” I mean pretty elite-level coaching. It seems like he picks one game a year to coach his ass off…Clemson/LSU 2018, Georgia/Alabama (despite losses) 2019, Florida 2020, and Alabama 2021. Jimbo coached pretty darn well in those games and the wins were largely based largely on his coaching—whereas many of the other games we’ve played Jimbo seems content to try and out-talent the team across from us. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.

It frustrates the ABSOLUTE SHIT out of me that it seems like Jimbo needs to have that chip on his shoulder in order to be that elite coach we all think he has the capacity to be. He needs to be told that the cant in order for him to get in gear.

Which is why…I’m wondering if this entire spat with Saban might be a good thing for this pivotal year in Aggie Football. We’ve got a room full of talent, who like Jimbo, folks are questioning their motivations for why they decided to be in the maroon and white and whether they’re there for the “right reasons”. We’ve got senior leaders in guys like Ainias Smith and Demani Richardson both of whom enjoy playing with a chip on their shoulders. Maybe there’s a growing synergistic opportunity for all those chips on shoulders to come together to try and prove a point this year. As mentioned earlier Jimbo needs to be fired up in order to be successful…I think we may have gotten there this offseason and with perfect timing given that “optional” off-season workouts start up soon enough.

Moving on

I’m a firm believer that people are driven by one of two things—the drive for success or the fear of failure. Those in that latter category have to be worried about “making it” because then the fear of failure is gone and there’s gotta be other pathways to stay motivated. If you’ve made it then you no longer have to worry about that ax-wielding failure monster chasing you as you run towards your goals. Complacency can set in.

I wonder if Jimbo is that kind of guy…and let’s be real he’s done some good things at A&M. We’re 18 months removed from a top 5 finish. We’ve won 9 games as many times as we’ve won 8. All fine things, not where we want to be but probably better than we were…but I wonder if that ax-wielding monster is starting to pick up his pace…and Jimbo can hear those footsteps as we move into this season. I wonder if Jimbo is starting to feel that failure pressure creep on him again like he may have felt early at FSU or as OC at LSU or in year one of this job...whether, despite his contract, he feels doubted and backed into a corner. And as a result, I wonder if Jimbo’s gonna coach this season like his life depends on it.

This offseason nonsense could be exactly what this program needs in order to take the next step.