Today, Jimbo Fisher, Florida State's head coach in waiting from 2007-2009, was formally introduced as head coach, succeeding the legendary Bobby Bowden. Here's the recap.
Florida State athletic director Randy Spetman introduced Fisher. He said that there had been only 8 head coaches in FSU history, no new head coach announcement had been made in 35 years. Spetman said this was not a common occurrence, but this isn’t a common man (Fisher). A common man wouldn’t have the courage or patience to follow Bowden. A common man couldn’t have re-kindled the Seminole spirit as Fisher has.
Fisher ditched the garish 1982 sport coach he usually dons for post-game interviews in favor of a black pinstripe suit. Fisher said he had been preparing for this day for a long time. He said he was fortunate to have been around a lot of successful people, learned so much from each of them, but the greatest thing I learned is to be myself, and remember why I am here. Fisher said he grew up a fan of Florida State, loved coach Bowden, and jumped at the chance to coach for Bobby Bowden. Fisher came to FSU for a lot of reasons. First, Fisher was a fan. I loved FSU. Fisher came to coach under coach Bowden. Fisher wanted to be a head coach and had a chance to be under the winningiest and best man in college football history. His experience here has been priceless. Coach won with more dignity and class than anyone who has ever walked the sideline. He said that many of his values and principles are from Bowden, not just from the last three years, but from following Bowden for the past 20 years. Fisher said that to have success over a long period of time, you must have values. He said that his and and Bowden's values are God, family, and football, in order. Fisher then talked for a long time about how his faith and family are very important to him.
Fisher then paid homage to all the players who made Florida State the great program it is today. He said that while he wasn't their coach, he was their fan, and that they are all now part of the same family. He said that they are always welcome back whenever they want. FSU fans who follow the program closely know that relationships with many former players have been strained due to some morons working in the athletics department.
He said that one thing that Florida State has consistently demonstrated over the past 30 years is a commitment to winning. Personally, I think this is a challenge to the administration and a reminder to the boosters that they need to step up their efforts if FSU is to compete on the national stage. Fisher is being gracious here, because the commitment to winning was decidedly not at Florida State for the last decade. I am told that Fisher now has full support of those in power to make FSU the best program it can be. He then added that while he will do things his way, the tradition of Florida State won't change because his principles and values will be the same of those who made Florida State great.
Then Fisher got into the good stuff- change. Fisher noted that when an organization has success, they are often resistant to change But he said he will affect the change. He said that you don't have to be sick to get better. Fisher said the people in power understand that he is bringing change. He said that young men are different today than they were 5 years ago because of the media. The world is different, coaches are different, and the kids are different. And Florida State must change to keep up with that change. Throughout the conference Fisher talked about knowing the needs of each kid. While not a shot at Bowden, it's hard to miss the contrast in styles. Bowden didn't know his player's names, Fisher makes it seem as if he wants to know their favorite color.
Fisher talked about how players must be successful off the field in order to be successful on the field. He said he wants quality character athletes, not characters. Fisher noted that the game has changed and you need smart players. It's not just about having the best athletes. Fisher said they will recruit goal-oriented kids who share their core values and principles. Fisher said can coach them up, but we have to recruit the right guys. Not every guy is going to come here thinking he’s going to be the next Rhodes Scholar, but whats wrong with educating them once they get here? He wants kids who want to succeed. Fisher said that boys do what they want to do, and Men do what they have to do.
The Fisher discussed support. He has made it no secret (on the booster trail) that he thinks Florida State is way behind the 8-ball when it comes to support systems. Luckily for FSU fans, Fisher coached under the best coach in college football, Nick Saban, and Saban's best attribute is organizational and support structure. Fisher talked for a while about how he and Nick transformed LSU when they were together. Fisher asked "what is performance?" Then he said, referencing Saban (and the other major programs intent on winning), that we must build a comprehensive program to deal with physical, mental, nutritional, academic, social, psychological, family, and all aspects of a player's life. He noted that FSU will do as much mental conditioning as physical ('Bama does this under Saban).
I wrote about this previously here, December 7th:
For almost a decade, Florida State's actions were not those of a program attempting to play football at an elite level. And in a competitive multi-billion dollar industry, if you're not innovating and trying to get better, you're getting worse. Florida State fell behind on the field in large part because they had a coaching staff that just wasn't competent-- be that ability to coach or ability to work the 90-hour weeks required of elite coaches. But FSU also found themselves far behind the times in other areas that weren't as visible to the average fan. ...
I'd also look for major improvements in the areas of strength, conditioning, and nutrition. Todd Stroud, FSU's current S&C coach will be out. He's not a bad S&C coach, but FSU can definitely do better. Fisher wants someone in the mold of Tommy Moffit, from LSU, widely considered the gold standard in college strength and conditioning programs. A few months ago, we identified two possible guys from the Moffit system- one at WKU and one at SMU. Barring some miracle that sees FSU land Moffit himself, or Alabama's Scott Cochran (very doubtful), look for FSU to go after the SMU or WKU guy. In addition to that, FSU's nutrition program is horrible. Players routinely fail to put on the necessary bulk. While UF has multiple nutritionists on staff, FSU doesn't have a single nutritionist on staff. Florida and Alabama regularly conduct blood testing on their players to make sure they have the proper levels of protein, vitamins, etc. Gator and Tide players regularly receive an individualized vitamin and mineral concoction upon getting to the complex. That's not happening at Florida State.
(click above link to read about the expected changes).
And the coaches who came in from the outside from other major programs thought FSU's system was a joke.
Here is a parent of a player who will talk about this on the record. I have edited the testimonial down to ensure anonymity.
After listening to Jimbo's press conference today, I am very excited about the future of FSU football/athletics. My child committed to FSU on a full [athletic] scholarship for the [20XX] class. I had some questions about the athletic program (Not just my kid's support) in the beginning and Jimbo Fisher answered those questions today. My kid had offers from all of the big national programs, and took visits to 5 major programs (names removed to protect athlete's identity). On every visit we went to among the big schools, there was so much emphasis put on nutrition. Meals were laid out by nutritionists for the athletes. At [Major Big12 school], athletes meals were prepared in a different kitchen by a different staff. [Major SEC school] had some of the same guidelines. Even though I know my daughter plays [her sport], what happens with football players has a trickle-down effect to all the athletic programs. We knew when [redacted] committed that the athletic program was lacking those fine touches that Jimbo will bring in. I just wanted to share this with you from a student-athlete's parent's point of view. Those "little things" are the difference makers!
He then launched into full-scale Nick Saban mode. "Process v. Outcome/ Results" Get used to this. A good outcome justified by a good process is repeatable. A bad outcome with good process is bad luck. A good outcome with bad process is getting lucky, not doing something right. Fisher said that the process must come before the results. Fisher said FSU needs the structure, staff, and support resources in place, like Saban, to affect change, like Saban. He will change how players walk, talk, breathe, everything. Fisher said FSU can, will, and expects to be better, and that with the right tools, FSU can be better soon. He clearly referenced the need to get everything in place quickly. Fisher said that he will change this building (the athletics department) as much as he changes the players.
Fisher talked about having good kids who are appreciated in the community and serve as ambassadors for the university. He wants to be able to tell a recruit "go call Christian Ponder and ask him".
Fisher then said that change is inevitable, growth is optional. He said that he must fix the mental at Florida State. Fisher said that many want to win badly but don't know how and don't have a plan, and that he has had great teachers in helping him form that plan.
Fisher was asked about the impact of his 3-year HCIW term, and he said it helped him tremendously. He knows what must be fixed and what already works. He doesn't need to have a 6-month acclimation period to learn about the players and the program. He understands the structural and individual problems. Fisher said that FSU has no choice but to change.
Fisher said that the entire staff had been hired, with the exception of the S&C coach, whom he expects to hire this week. James Coley is the offensive coordinator, but Fisher will still call the plays. If you have any concern over this, please refer to "should Jimbo Fisher call plays as head coach" Eddie Gran will be the associate head coach/ RB coach. Lawrence Dawsey will be the passing game coordinator/ WR coach. Rick Trickett will be the assistant head coach/ OL coach. Daymeune Craig will coach QB's along with Fisher. Mark Stoops is the D-coordinator. Greg Hudson is associate head coach of defense/ LB coach. O'Dell Haggins is the DT coach. Darin "DJ" Eliot is the DE coach. Fisher isn't sure who will assume Recruiting coordinator duties next year but it's assumed Coley won't retain them as OC.
Fisher said he has a great staff. He said they recruit and coach, they have great energy and called them hustlers. He said he had the final call on all hires. He said that his guys are big picture guys and expects all of them to one day be stars in this business.
Someone asked how he would change the S&C program. He said FSU needs changes, and he will make them after hiring a great S&C coach. Matt drills will continue but will be tweaked. He said FSU will get bigger but will continue to run and be in great shape. He said matt drills breed toughness, which is one of his pillars of the 4th quarter program (Saban lingo- Toughness Effort Discipline Pride). He then stressed nutrition again, saying WE NEED NUTRITION. THAT IS HUGE. WE HAVE TO HAVE A NUTRITION PROGRAM. We need the oil to compliment the gas for our car. You can't succeed without nutrition. FSU will have a nutrition staff, and the Noles will change what they eat, when they eat, and how they eat.
When asked about how quickly he can be successful, he referenced getting the process in place, but that it can happen very quickly. He said FSU is in a great conference and his focus is on winning the ACC. He also ripped on the reporter for being "outcome oriented" rather than "process oriented."
He then talked about another major issue Tomahawk Nation has been all over for about a year- scheduling. FSU sets itself up to fail with it's ridiculous schedule, which this year was again top 5 in the country. He said playing 3 non-conference contests will not happen under his watch.
So there is a lesson to be learned. Not every team is running the same race. Some aren't even running remotely similar races. If it's only time that matters, it makes sense to run the shortest possible race. Florida State will continue to schedule Florida, but the other three non-conference games need to be automatics, or close to automatics. With UF in the non-conference schedule, even three cupcakes filling the four additional slots wouldn't hurt FSU, especially when the coaches poll isn't paying attention. So why is FSU unnecessarily scheduling losable games? It seems to be a combination of money and a fundamental lack of understanding of the scheduling game. While FSU needs to put butts in the seats, and has a unique problem getting fans to their games due to their location in the northernmost point in the state, the decision to schedule higher-profile games just to maintain attendance is short sighted. The money lost when FSU falls from the rankings after dropping a game that they shouldn't have scheduled, and the long-term detriments to recruiting far outweigh an extra 5,000 tickets sold. Games against football's worst teams also cost more money, typically over a million dollars. But the benefits of scheduling and beating New Mexico, or Rice, or Tulane far outweigh the financial costs. Fans just want to root for a consistent winner, no matter who the team is playing. Florida State would easily be in the top 15 if they had scheduled like Penn State or Ole Miss. I doubt recruits would be dropping Florida State if the Noles were in the top 15. I haven't even touched on the idea of booster contributions, but most boosters are equally dumb like the coaches. They want to see a ranked team and do not care how the team gets that ranking.
Florida State's asinine scheduling also puts unnecessary pressure and and a negative spotlight on the program. Because few (if any) teams face the week-in and week-out grind that FSU faces. We can't reasonably expect people to sympathize with something they don't see or understand. Every team experiences letdowns, they are impossible to avoid. What a team can avoid is scheduling opponents who can take advantage of the scheduling team's down week, like a talented but inconsistent USF program that sold their entire season on the Florida State game. FSU just couldn't match their intensity, or the intensity the Noles showed the previous week against #7 ranked BYU. Smart scheduling also means avoiding scheduling teams who require the scheduling team to unnecessarily get up for a game, like playing that cross country road game against BYU. Instead of BYU and USF, why not Florida International and Rice? Then Florida State would be sitting at 3-1, with just a lass second loss to nationally ranked Miami. I don't like the process any more than you, but Florida State scheduling tactics are largely to blame for their current predicament. Florida State needs to stop being other team's game of the year, particularly those teams which are just talented enough to beat FSU if the Noles have an off-week.
Think that weak scheduling wouldn't get FSU to the National Championship game? Think again. With UF and thee nobodies, FSU would have to beat 8 or 9 bowl teams, including Miami and Florida, and play the ACC championship game against either Virginia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, or maybe Georgia Tech. 12-0 (or 11-1 in some years) would guarantee Florida State a shot at the National Championship. The game against Florida erases any concerns voters might have over the quality of the ACC. If Florida State ever wants to get back to the top, they have to make a lot of changes. Removing Bowden and the relics of his decade of incompetence is first and foremost, but FSU cannot continue to pass on three free wins per season. Play the game the way the voters want you to play it. It's record, not resume. 10-2 against sisters of the blind, in the mind of the voters, is much better than 7-5 against one of the most challenging schedules in the nation. This current approach by the Noles is like shooting long distance jumpers before the advent of the 3-point shot in basketball.
Fisher pointed out that scheduling these games is unnecessary for another reason- money. He said FSU cannot afford to play only 6 home games in a season. He'd rather draw 75,000 people for a cupcake home game than draw zero people for a road game. FSU plays UF, Miami, Clemson, BC, NC State, 2 of (VTech, GTech, UNC, UVA, Duke), Maryland, and Wake Forest. That is plenty tough. Fisher said that FSU is really hamstrung by its scheduling. He then said we will schedule like other schools looking to win the national championship. Does Texas do it? Does Bama do it? Does UF do it? Does Georgia do it? No, and neither will FSU. We're crazy to play those games.
Fisher then talked more Saban, saying the key to success is individual attention and meeting individual needs of each player, and with resources, FSU can do that.
Fisher said the HCIW agreement puts players at ease. He said he has his fingerprints on his two recruiting classes and noted that all players recruited in his two classes have a 2.0 GPA minimum, all but one have over a 2.2, and the average of his latest class is over a 3.0 Fisher said his superior knowledge of the program's strengths and weaknesses allowed him to hire the correct coaches.
Fisher said FSU was his 4th best offer but that it presented the best opportunity 5 years from then (January 2007).
Fisher said stoops called him and he was familiar with him from USF and Miami, he coached against him and was impressed with his work despite AU's lack of talent, and got very favorable reviews from Texas DC will Muschamp and Nebraska HC Bo Pelini. He said Darin Eliot is a Stoops guy but that he made the hire after Eliot blew him away in the interview process. Said Hudson will compliment Stoops but that Stoops is the DC. Said Hudson has been very good against the spread option (think UF).
Fisher said the spring game will be a game, not situational practice.
And that's it. Welcome coach Fisher.