Best in the NFL, but not best in the family
Jeff Fisher's mark with the Titans has been eclipsed by his son's college team.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Coach Jeff Fisher's Tennessee Titans have the NFL's best record at 12-2. That doesn't rank as the best in his own family.
His son, Brandon, is a linebacker for the Montana Grizzlies, who are 14-1 entering tonight's Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) title game against Richmond (12-3).
"It's really a neat deal knowing that when he decided to attend the University of Montana, knowing they were very competitive the hope somewhere along the line he'd get a chance to play here in Chattanooga," Jeff Fisher said.
"I think the fact it's here in the home state two hours away makes it even more special."
The Titans' coach attended Montana's 35-27 victory over James Madison last Friday night in Harrisonburg, Va., and plans to be in Chattanooga for the championship. The Titans played in Houston last week but are home in Nashville on Sunday against Pittsburgh, making his travel this week much easier.
Jeff Fisher said he's more nervous for his son than he is for his own games. Brandon Fisher, on the other hand, is completely focused.
"It's great to have the family and friends here, but I've kind of said all week after this thing's over we'll sit back and reflect and we'll talk about it and enjoy it," he said. "Until then, everybody's kind of on their own for tickets. My No. 1 focus is this game."
After starting his career with the Grizzlies as a safety, Brandon moved to strong-side linebacker. Though undersize for that position at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, he has 62 tackles, 5 1/2 tackles for loss, two interceptions and a sack. He ranks fifth on the team in tackles.
Montana coach Bobby Hauck said whatever Brandon lacks in size, he makes up with weight-room dedication and intelligence. Brandon has a 3.95 GPA in business administration and hasn't ruled out following his father in the coaching profession.
"I haven't decided what I'm going to do," he said. "I could end up being a fishing guide, end up being a coach, or end up behind a desk. Just going to enjoy the time I have right now, it'll all fall into place. But I could definitely see myself coaching."
As far as playing styles, Jeff Fisher acknowledges it's not like father, like son. The former Southern Cal and Chicago Bears cornerback liked to fly around on the outside. Brandon Fisher prefers more of the rough-and-tumble play near the line of scrimmage.
"You know, ever since he was little, he kind of liked to run into things," the coach said.
Hauck said Jeff Fisher makes an ideal parent for him because he's unobtrusive when it comes to offering advice. The two coaches only talk football when Hauck brings it up, and sometimes Hauck wishes Fisher would be more forthcoming with the coaching talk.
"When Jeff and I get a chance to talk, it's usually about the fishing report in Montana and not about football," he said.
It was a love of the outdoors that drew Brandon Fisher to Big Sky country, where his father owns a cabin three hours away from the Montana campus.
"I get any free time, I hunt," he said. "I schedule my classes so I have mornings where I can hunt around close to school."
The Grizzlies linebacker also likes the Montana program because no one cares who his dad is or who anyone else's dad is, for that matter.
His teammates include safety Houston Stockton, son of former Utah Jazz guard John Stockton, and linebacker Tyler Pelluer, son of former New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Pelluer. Hauck himself is the brother of former Eagles safety Tim Hauck, who is a member of the coaching staff as well.
"That's what's cool about the place. Nobody really cares about that," Brandon Fisher said. "Just got a good group of guys, group of buddies, friends. We just go out and work hard like everybody."