I generally loathe how often the term “must-win game” is thrown around in sports. Teams constantly lose “must-win” games and just...continue their season the same way they would have even if they had won. Outside of a playoff scenario, true must-win games rarely exist.
But Saturday’s game against the Auburn Tigers just might be one for Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M.
Fisher notoriously has one of the richest deals in college football, owed more than $75 million dollars even after this season, But while his contract is guaranteed, his future in College Station is not. This is a season in which his team must live up to the billing created by the recruiting successes and resources poured into the Texas A&M program over the past five years. Following a disastrous 5-7 campaign in 2022 and a disappointing road loss to Miami two weeks ago, the time for patience in Aggieland has reached its end. The time for results has arrived. For a team that’s had so many things seemingly go wrong in recent seasons, it’s time for things to go right.
If the Aggies want to have a bounce-back season and change the narrative about Jimbo Fisher’s tenure, it has to start Saturday against Auburn. It’s a team in the first year of a new head coach, with a transfer QB, an inferior roster (from a talent perspective) with more key injuries in your home stadium. Everything about it says this game is winnable. So go win it.
Take care of business, and you have the chance to build actual momentum. A&M would head to Arlington to take on a vulnerable Arkansas team and start 2-0 in SEC play for the first time in Jimbo’s tenure (yes, you read that right). Win that one, and you welcome an Alabama team to Kyle Field that seems to be a far cry from the dominance force we’ve come to know over the past decade. Every conference win you stack builds confidence - confidence from the players, from fans, from media, from recruits. But it has to start with the first one.
A win over Auburn is the path down that road. But a loss could potentially send this team off the rails, and potentially send Texas A&M donors to their financial advisors to find the most tax-advantageous way to fund a buyout. And in the transfer portal era, there’s no guarantee that elite players will stick around if the team isn’t winning, regardless of whether the coach stays or goes.
I like Jimbo Fisher, and there are a lot of things he’s done right in Aggieland. He’s recruited well, he seems to “get” A&M (for whatever that’s worth), and while he’s not batting 1.000, he has made some great staff hires. I’m not someone who thinks all hope is lost. I still very much believe there is a lot of potential for this team, both in 2023 and beyond. I hope like hell that Jimbo succeeds, that A&M proves the doubters wrong, and that this program is pulled back from the 2022 brink to begin accomplishing the things Jimbo was hired to accomplish back in 2018.
Do you view Auburn as a ‘must-win’ for A&M?
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