Jimbo Fisher would certainly be one of the top candidates, were the Pack to expand the search to include offensive and defensive coaches.
A native of West Virginia and a graduate of Salem College, the 41-year old Fisher got his start in the world of coaching directing the quarterbacks at Samford. Not long after, he took the same position at Auburn and stayed there throughout the mid-1990's. In 1999 Fisher became the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. While the Bearcats' offense struggled, Fisher was so highly thought of throughout the SEC he was hired by LSU and head coach Nick Saban. It was a decision they would not regret.
Fisher has had a lot to do with the Tigers' rise to elite status in recent years, not only as an offensive coach, but also as an excellent recruiter.
In 2000 – Saban and Fisher's first year – LSU averaged eight points per game more than in 1999. The Bayou Bengals also rebounded from a 3-8 season to win eight games. There was no letdown.
In 2001 Fisher's offense scored eight points per game more than the previous year again – 32 points per game in the Southeastern Conference – and defeated Illinois 47-34 in the Sugar Bowl. Surprisingly, it was the Tigers' first win in a major bowl since 1968.
|"Fisher helped LSU win the BCS Championship in 2003."|
Fisher helped LSU win the BCS Championship in 2003. LSU's offense was talented and balanced, rushing for 174 yards per game and passing for 222.
After two more strong seasons LSU's offense is again rated tops in the SEC in 2006 with another balanced attack. The Tigers have more talent than just about every school in the nation and Fisher is a big reason why. But they're also very well coached on the offensive side of the ball with balance and good play calling.
With a background in coaching quarterbacks it's no surprise that Fisher has done a great job with the guys behind center at LSU. In just six years Fisher has coached four of the most prolific passers in Tiger history – Josh Booty, Rohan Davey, Matt Mauck and JaMarcus Russell. The position is always stocked with talent and the backups appear well prepared to succeed when it's their time to take the field.
In 2006 JaMarcus Russell has passed for 2,797 yards, 26 touchdowns and only seven interceptions with a 69-percent completion rate. Their running game has been "by committee" with four backs rushing for more than 250 yards and combining for 18 touchdowns.
What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: No one disputes that Fisher is one of the top offensive coordinators in the nation. That's a result of his coaching, but also his track record on the recruiting trails.
After two seasons of atrocious offense, Fowler might think it's important to seek out a coach that knows how to put points on the board. Fisher certainly knows how to do that. He has done it in the nation's best conference for the past six seasons. The Tigers drilled Miami 40-3 in the Peach Bowl last year and have moved the ball in most of the games they've lost.
|"Fisher's ability as a recruiter might be just as important."|
Fisher's ability as a recruiter might be just as important. He knows the South and has experience recruiting against coaches from the top programs in the country. If he were to become a head coach somewhere he would keep all of those connections and hype his accomplishments at LSU.
Why it Might Not Happen: While there are a lot of things that make Fisher an attractive candidate there are several reasons that might make us think otherwise.
He has no head coaching experience, which cannot be interpreted as anything but a negative. That hardly means he wouldn't be successful, but ideally the new coach would have spent at least some time as the man in charge. He would need to surround himself with an experienced, capable staff that could help him transition into his new role.
There is also the possibility that even if Fisher succeeds it might not work out in the long-run for NC State. At just 41-years old, were Fisher to do a good job in Raleigh he would almost certainly attract the attention of national powers across the South and the nation. Would Fisher, who has now been coaching in the SEC for 14 years, be content at State? Or would he bolt the minute a perceived "better job" was offered?
Pack Pride's Take: There is a good chance that Fisher would accept if the job were to be offered to him. He is likely near the top of the list of candidates unless Fowler has decided he wants a guy with head coaching experience.
Fisher's ability to field high-scoring offenses and win recruiting battles are very attractive qualities that could make him a high-reward hire. Would the risk of him being a short-term hire be too great?
A sidenote: Fisher isn't the only assistant coach at LSU widely considered to be a great candidate for a head coaching position somewhere. There is a good chance that defensive coordinator Bo Pelini could be coaching somewhere in the near future.