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Will FSU's Jimbo Fisher Be The Next Second Year Coach To Win A National Championship?

With the start of the preseason training camp one day away, and with the #5 ranking in the coaches poll and a similar ranking (top 8) expected in the soon to be released AP poll, increasing the already heightened expectations for the 2011 Florida State football team by some of the more rabid and delusional fans is the last thing I want to accomplish with this post.

As a matter of fact, this might be a good time to revisit the Goals vs Expectations story that we discussed one year ago and see how it applies to this years team. Also if you have the time, you may enjoy reading some of the comments to see what difference a year under the "process" makes.

Before getting too far ahead and full of ourselves, it might be prudent for us to review the goal versus expectation concept so that we can keep it somewhere in the back of our minds as we as get to the actual point of this story.  For this reprint I have changed the year, but the message remains the same.

14-0 should be our GOAL not only for 2011, but for every football season.

OK 'nuff said, but what are our EXPECTATIONS for the 2011 FSU Seminoles?

Everyone of us has a different idea about what will constitute a successful 2011 FSU football season. Many times our expectations are determined by blind homerism, where we perceive where we should be, or where we feel we, as Noles, deserve to be.

All too often expectations are confused with goals and this can cause disillusionment with our team at the end of the season when unrealistic expectations are not met.

Many people tend to use the words Goals and Expectations somewhat interchangeably. If you confuse the goals and expectations for our Noles for the 2011 season, you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment, heartache, and you risk becoming demoralized with your team and your coach(es).

All too often we tend to shy away from setting realistic expectations. Many times this is due to the more negative perception of the word expectations, than that of word goals.  Therefore, we may try to soften the blow by substituting goals with expectations.

So what is the difference between goals and expectations? 

A goal is a specific, measurable, outcome-oriented activity or target to which you commit your efforts and you strive and work towards. It is the result of or an achievement toward which an effort is aimed. A goal is something that one would like to achieve sometime in the future, something to aim for, and something you put all your efforts to try to achieve.

An expectation is a specific, reasonable, measurable, minimum standard of performance to which you commit your efforts. An expectation could be viewed as trust, anticipation, or having a degree of confidence that a certain attainable result will occur. Something that is hoped for, yet may or may not necessarily see fruition.

Both goals and expectations should be achievable, but expectations must be realistically attainable and doable. That does not mean that they have to be easy, but without realistic expectations you are doomed to failure. Goals on the other hand, should stretch people more than expectations. They too should still be achievable even if it takes a Herculean effort to meet them.

Based solely on these definitions, a goal and an expectation may seem very similar, however there are some key differences. Goals are either achieved or they’re not achieved. Expectations however, may be met or exceeded with varying levels of performance as you work towards your goal.

We here at TN believe and preach in setting realistic and attainable expectations for our 2011 season, and we believe and preach that our return to dominance will be a process, and that the process >>(is greater than) the immediate results. We preach that FSU football is a work in progress, and that our return to relevance will not happen overnight, and it could possibly take a few years to see the results that we all want after a decade of neglect and mediocrity.

Keeping all of this in mind, now let's completely contradict everything previously written and dare to dream a little.  After all, as fans this is our right and duty to do so.

During the last decade (the 2000's) plus one, four head coaches at major FBS (Div 1A) colleges have taken over programs mired in mediocrity, and during the second year of their tenure they went on to win the NCAA College Football National Championship.

They are:

They are:

Bob Stoops (2000)- Stoops took over in 1999 for John Blake, who had a combined W/L record of 12-22 during his 3 year stint as Sooner head coach.  Despite his shortcomings as a coach, Blake was a very good recruiter and left Stoops with a decent and talented roster.  The Sooners finished 7-5 during Stoops' first year as coach. During his second season, Oklahoma steamrolled through the regular season undefeated beating 4 ranked teams including #1 ranked Nebraska, won the Big 12 Championship game against #8 Kansas State, and capped off their spectacular season on that miserable January 3 night in the Orange Bowl Classic against our very own hapless Seminole team.

Jim Tressel (2002)- Tressel replaced John Cooper as the OSU coach in 2001. Cooper was fairly successful and had a combined W/L record of 111-43-4 during his 13 years as the Buckeye coach, but was fired for his dismal record against Michigan, his pitiful bowl record, and due to the lack of control over his players.  Like Stoops, Tressel also finished his first season at OSU with a 7-5 record, but managed to beat Michigan as promised during his hiring press conference, and this was enough to appease the Buckeye loyal.  During Tressel's second season as head coach, the Buckeyes finished the season undefeated and went on to beat Miami in the exciting double-overtime win for the National Championship in the Fiesta Bowl.

Urban Meyer (2006)- In 2005 Meyer took over for Ron Zook.  Zook, despite not having a losing season did not meet expectations and was fired during the season, but was allowed to finish coaching the remainder of the season.  Zook however was a very good recruiter and left Meyer a very talented and deep team.  In his first season, Meyer guided the team to a 9-3 record.  During his second season, despite suffering a mid-season loss to Auburn, the Gators finished with a 13-1 record and beat Ohio State for the National Championship.

Gene Chizik (2010)- Chizik took over for Tommy Tuberville in 2009.  Tuberville, a barely over .500 coach, resigned after a 5-7 season and a brutal spanking by arch-rival Alabama.  Chizik is the third coach on this list to finish their first year as head coach with 5 losses. Despite the record, Chizik was able to land a top 5 recruiting class, buy a JUCO transfer QB along the way, and then finished his second season with a perfect 14-0 record after kicking their way past Oregon in the BCS National Championship game.

Jimbo Fisher (2011?)- Fisher replaced Bobby Bowden following the 2009 season after the Noles struggled to become bowl eligible. Fisher has a distinct advantage over the other 4 coaches on this list. That is, he was able to observe the program for 3 years before taking over as head coach.  In his first season, Fisher also had more wins (10) than any of the other coaches on this list.  Whether these two factors will be enough to add Fisher to this list of recent second year coaches to win the National Championship remains to be seen.

However, the common denominators these 5 coaches all share are:

  • They assembled a top-notch staff of assistant coaches and tremendous recruiters as soon as they were hired.
  • They inherited a talented roster of players.
  • They were given the authority to make the necessary changes and implement their processes as they saw fit.
  • They all started their tenures with very good recruiting classes and were able to land some elite recruits.
  • They all coach at programs with rich and long histories of football success.

Now, is it my expectations that the Noles are "back" and that Jimbo Fisher's 2011 squad is going to win or even compete for the national championship?  No, that would be setting unrealistic expectations.

Regardless, should this be the teams goal this year and every year?  Absolutely.

Does Fisher's 2011 team have a chance of reaching the BCS championship game and winning it?  Again, absolutely.

After finally winning the ACC Atlantic Division for the first time since 2005, after finally winning 10 games for the first time since 2003, after finally getting the defensive front seven to an elite playing weight, and after finally getting some depth along the defensive line, the Noles certainly are capable of exceeding expectations.

However, those expectations should be set at winning the Atlantic Division, winning the ACC Championship, and getting back to a BCS bowl game, rather than expecting Jimbo Fisher to be the next head coach to win the championship title in only his second year as head coach.

Winning it all in his third year?  Well that's a whole different story.  Stay tuned.