CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney seemed a little surprised when he was asked to give his thoughts on Jimbo Fisher’s resignation from Florida State to become Texas A&M’s new head coach on Friday.
Fisher announced his resignation at lunch time, just as Swinney began his press conference to preview the top-ranked Tigers’ game against No. 7 Miami Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
“He obviously feels like maybe it’s the right move for him,” Swinney said. “I don’ know. I know that he did an unbelievable job at Florida State.”
Swinney and Fisher brought Clemson and Florida State back to national prominence in the last decade as well as made the ACC one of the best conference’s in the country. The winner of the Clemson-Florida State game has won the Atlantic Division each year since 2009.
Saturday’s game will mark the Tigers’ fifth appearance in the title game under Swinney, while Fisher led FSU to four ACC Championship appearances in his eight years in Tallahassee, Fla.
Clemson, who currently sits atop the College Football Playoff Rankings, has played for the national championship the last two years, including last year’s win over Alabama in the national championship game.
With a win on Saturday, the Tigers will earn a spot in the CFP for a third straight year. Clemson has recorded seven consecutive 10-win seasons.
Fisher led the Seminoles to the 2013 National Championship, the last year of the BCS era, and made the inaugural CFP in 2014. FSU won four ACC Championships under Fisher’s guidance and had six 10-win seasons.
Fisher and Swinney are 4-4 head-to-head.
However this year has been unkind to the Seminoles. After being the preseason No. 3 ranked team, they have stumbled through a 5-6 season and need a win over Louisiana Monroe on Saturday to become bowl eligible.
Of course, it did not help he lost starter Deondre Francois for the year with a torn ACL in the season-opening loss to Alabama.
“This is a business that’s very public, as we all know,” Swinney said. “From time to time you have to make decisions. Sometimes those decisions become very public, and the public is going to weigh in with how they feel about it.”
Fisher left Florida State amidst all the controversy surrounding his flirtation with Texas A&M. It was reported on Friday he was hired as the Aggies’ new head coach to replace Kevin Sumlin, who was fired last week.
“If that’s what he chooses to do, I mean, listen, I like Jimbo,” Swinney said. “It’s been a competitive journey. I’ve known him forever. When I was at Alabama, he was at Auburn.
“If that is what he’s doing, evidently he feels like that’s the right move for him and his family and the right time to do so.”
Swinney says Florida State is Florida State, and he knows they will hire a great coach to replace Fisher. As for Fisher, Swinney will get to continue their rivalry next year when Clemson travels to Texas A&M in Week 2 to play the Aggies.
“I guess we’ll see him next year if that’s what he’s going to do,” Swinney said. “We play Texas A&M for the next two years. If he is, I can’t get rid of him. He will still be a thorn in our side (smiling).
“If that is accurate, I wish him nothing but the best. I’m sure I’ll touch base with him at some point.”