Just as Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher took off his helmet and looked at a plate of barbecue chicken, a fan caught his eye.
“Coach Fisher, who are you cheering for this weekend: Clemson or Georgia?” asked the fan.
“Texas A&M,” he replied with a smirk. “We don’t worry about anyone else, son.”
Wednesday was the first edition of the Jimbo Fisher radio show at Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-BQ on Harvey Road in College Station since the 2019 season ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming his usual position to the left of A&M play-by-play announcer Andrew Monaco, Fisher said he was happy to be back among the 12th man.
“We really missed everyone,” Fisher said. “It’s great to be here and great to see everyone and great to eat great food.”
Several dozen fans filled the restaurant’s long communal tables, including show regulars Walt Curtis and his son Ian, who regularly asks the head coach a question each week.
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“We’re just happy to be here,” said Walt Curtis. “We weren’t sure if that was going to happen with the recent flair-up and all, but we like to go out every Wednesday, and Ian is enjoying it. We’re just happy to be back.
Last season, the Curtis watched the pandemic version of the show filmed with just Monaco and Fisher at 12th Man Studios.
Monaco was happy to once again feed on the energy of the public.
“It was great to have him one-on-one in the studio, but you miss playing against the crowd and seeing everyone, meeting them and interacting with them,” Monaco said. “As we couldn’t do it last year, you miss it, so when it comes back, it was really like a reunion. It’s fun to be in this atmosphere, and to be able to talk football for an hour with him is happiness.
Barely a minute into the show, the pair skipped any further formalities and returned to where they left off last season: talking about Aggie football.
A&M hosts Kent State at Kyle Field at 7 p.m. Saturday, and Fisher said his team is ready for a fast-paced offense.
“They are a very good football team, and they will go fast. They’re going to go really fast,” Fisher said.
The Golden Flashes will face an A&M defense that lost only two team starters 9-1 last season. With so many experienced players back on his team, Fisher said he saw an improvement in the culture of the program passed down from older guys to younger guys this training camp, a luxury he didn’t have at the start of the season. his tenure at A&M.
“You have to pass on the knowledge of the message, the tradition and the culture and it all happens,” Fisher said. “You learn from the guys in front of you. We have all done it. I did it with coaches. I did it as a player with other players. These guys do it, and it’s huge.
Just as the radio show has returned to normal, so will Aggie football on Saturday with an expected sold-out sale at Kyle Field. Monaco said the athletics department also expects 38,000 students to fill the upper deck. The stands will also be coordinated in red, white and blue, in honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
“It’s awesome, 38,000 students resisted the whole game,” Fisher said. “Their commitment to A&M and who it is and what it means is A&M. All you have to say is, ‘This is A&M,’ and that covers it all.”
Fisher spent commercial breaks chatting with fans, signing autographs and posing for photos while social distancing, reverting to a semblance of radio shows in the past.
Ian Curtis, as is tradition, submitted his only question for the night, asking Fisher what’s different in 2021 compared to when he took over before the 2018 season. Fisher smiled before answering, then suggested as the return of the radio show, things are just a little more familiar.
“I know my way around town,” Fisher said, prompting laughter from the crowd.