SEC FOOTBALL FOCUS: A welcome letter to Jimbo Fisher

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To: Jimbo Fisher

From: A random SEC football fan

Subject: Welcome to the SEC

Dear Mr. Fisher,

Actually, can I call you Jimbo? It’s just that you’re one of us now in the Southeastern Conference and I just … I’m going to call you Jimbo.

Anyway, Jimbo, let me be the first to welcome you to the SEC.

Well, I’m not really the first. That distinction would go to the Texas A&M band, which played the school fight song to greet you on the runway at Easterwood Airport in College Station back in early December after the school hired you. They even rolled out a carpet for you to walk on. That was pretty wild. The culture there in College Station is something else, and that 12th Man is a whole other beast. Some of my buddies were worried about how you’d handle the move from Tallahassee, but it seems like the switch has treated you well. You even gave a “Howdy” at SEC Media Days.

But back to what I was saying: Welcome to the league.

Honestly, this is probably overdue, especially given your track record at Florida State. Eighty-three wins, three conference titles and a national championship in eight seasons? And a 10-2 record against SEC teams? That’s pretty good.

But after Saturday’s game against No. 2 Clemson, I feel that a more formal welcome is in order.

Playing a familiar foe like Dabo and the Tigers couldn’t have hurt your chances, but you and your Aggies, Jimbo, you went toe to toe with them. Awfully impressive.

Your team got off to a slow start — what was with the missed 26-yard field goal on the opening drive? — but responded well after digging itself a 21-6 hole.

Kellen Mond channeled his inner Johnny Football — maybe he can channel it again against the Crimson Tide, then he’d really be pulling a Johnny Football — evading the rush while rolling left and floating a pass to a diving Quartney Davis for a 14-yard touchdown that brought the score to 28-20. Then shrugging off Clemson defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell’s giant paw before rifling a pass to Kendrick Rogers in the end zone to bring your team within two with 46 seconds to play … that was special, tipped pass and all.

I was a bit surprised that Mond didn’t have any magic left for the two-point conversion to force overtime. Still, a 28-26 loss isn’t really something to hang your head about. But imagine if Daniel LaCamera had made that opening field goal. Or if Davis hadn’t fumbled out of the end zone with just over two minutes left. (It’s such a weird rule that the defense gets the ball after a play like that, isn’t it?) The game very well could have been yours.

(As an aside, you benefited from your own share of luck. See: Clemson’s fumble on fourth-and-goal and Mond’s final touchdown pass that could have been picked.)

But at the end of the day, Mond threw for 430 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, Rogers hauled in seven catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and most importantly, Jimbo, your team showed that it is going to be a force in the SEC.

The latter point will be particularly important, seeing as A&M made it clear that expectations for you are so high. Not only did the school fire Kevin Sumlin — who had a 51-26 record in six seasons with the Aggies but didn’t finish better than fourth in the SEC West in the last five seasons — but it also signed you to that monstrous 10-year, $75 million contract. (All of that money is guaranteed, even if you’re 51-26 in six seasons, too.)

The slate ahead isn’t easy — you have road games at Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn — but the message you sent in Saturday’s game rings clear: SEC Beware! A&M is back, unlike Texas, to challenge the big dogs.

So, again, welcome to the conference, Jimbo. Just don’t beat up on my team.

Signed,

A random SEC football fan

Trending up

Kentucky

You can make an argument that Georgia deserves to be this week’s “Trending up” team after it pounded South Carolina, but Kentucky gets the nod for making history.

The Wildcats marched into the Swamp and beat Florida for the first time since 1986. Benny Snell Jr. continued his strong play, rushing for 175 yards, while Terry Wilson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.

Kentucky has been trending upward with Mark Stoops at the helm, and it appears that trend will continue this season.

Trending down

Arkansas

Ole Miss’ defense is a close second here — allowing 41 points to Southern Illinois is bad — but losing to Colorado State is worse. To add insult to injury, Arkansas led 27-9 late in the third quarter before surrendering 25 unanswered points.

Supervising editor is Michael Knisley.

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