Where Jimbo Fisher fits in coaching searches

Jimbo Fisher's name is coming up in coaching scenarios other than at Florida State.

 AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

If LSU is interested in replacing Les Miles with Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, it is likely going to have some competition for his services.

Those familiar with the search at USC say the school’s decision-makers, including athletic director Pat Haden, are interested in the 50-year-old Fisher.

A potential hang-up, according to those familiar with the Trojans' search, is Haden's insistence on asking athletic directors for permission to speak to candidates. Agents and coaches say that philosophy has become increasingly obsolete in today’s aggressive age of coaching searches. At minimum, that tactic delays the search process. For obvious reasons, it also can create tension with between the coach and his current bosses.

Fisher is 67-13 with three ACC titles in his sixth season as the head coach at FSU. Of note, the Seminoles’ 2013 national title win came at the Rose Bowl. They played again in Pasadena last season, when they lost to Oregon in the first College Football Playoff semifinal.

If it worked out for the Trojans, it wouldn’t be the first time a native West Virginian was put in charge at USC. Hall of Fame coach John McKay, who won four national titles in 16 seasons at USC, grew up in Everettville, West Virginia -- which is about 30 miles from Fisher’s hometown of Clarksburg.

Fisher has said McKay, who passed away in 2001, is one of his coaching idols. USC’s 2-year-old athletics hub is named for McKay.

Fisher does have a $5 million buyout, and it’s still fair to wonder if he would leave FSU. Strife with the school’s administration persisted early in his tenure, but many of those issues have been worked through. Fisher is thought to be in a better place than he was two or three years ago.

There is continuing support for interim coach Clay Helton at USC, but Saturday's loss at Oregon will surely stunt some of that momentum. The Trojans allowed Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams to throw for six scores.

As for Miles and LSU, it is looking rather bleak in the wake of the program’s first three-game losing streak since 1999. The momentum for change is growing, those close to the program indicated on Saturday.

Some said it is to the point that this week’s result against Texas A&M might not even matter. What, really, is the difference between 8-3 and 7-4? LSU, now 4-3 this season in SEC play, is 13-10 in the league since the 2012 season.

To be sure, it would be a costly decision if LSU is ready to make a move. Miles would be owed a $15 million buyout if fired before Jan. 1 -- or $13 million after Jan. 1 –- though only half would be required up front. The rest could be paid over the next eight years. After assistant buyouts and the potential of buying out the next head coach, it could cost LSU well over $20 million to sack Miles.