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Jimbo Fisher at Florida State Rose Bowl media day

Transcript via ASAP Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Q. Jimbo, what do you say to the perception that Oregon is more of a finesse team and has trouble standing up against physical offensive or defensive teams? How does Oregon look to you, and how have they changed over the years?

COACH FISHER: They run the football. You don't run the football by not being physical. On defense, they're very long. 6'6", 6'7" defensive ends. Nose guards, 300 pounds. They read tremendously well. I see them playing very physical football. They really do. You don't win 12 games, 11, 10, 12 games without being physical. People say finesse teams. Because you have skill, people always assume you're a finesse football team. I don't see them as a finesse football team. I see them as a physical football team.

Q. Even on the defensive side?

COACH FISHER: No doubt. Their outside backers do very well. I think they do a very good job on the front seven being physical.

Q. With you and Coach Saban and McKay and Yoast, we get a lot of people from the same area of West Virginia winning National Championships.

COACH FISHER: People don't know that. You pulled that one out, McKay. He's right between us. You're exactly right.

Q. A lot of people from the same area winning National Championships. Is there something about that area that makes that happen?

COACH FISHER: I don't know. Sports is very big there. We all grew up doing it our whole lives. I think the big thing is probably work ethic. Being from the coal mining areas of West Virginia, being farmers and coal miners, it's extremely difficult to life, putting in work and doing the things you've got to do and loving ball. Ball was a big part of our culture. So maybe there is something to that.

Q. Talk about the development of your running game with Cameron in the center and how you've developed that.

COACH FISHER: Cam has been a huge part of being inside for us and bringing physicality and bringing size and experience. At the same time, what Rod has been able to do at tackle, Rod Johnson is going to be a special player. At 6'7", 320 pounds, how long he is, how physical he is. Both of those guys‑‑ that move has made us a more physical, long team in pass protection, holding the inside corps very tight in pass pro, the edges have stayed wide. In running we're getting more push inside. But then Rod can reach. He's so athletic on those edges with his size to cover guys up. Both those guys have been tremendous and long, with Dalvin Cook emerging and coming on.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I think Nick is very unique. I hope so because Nick is a big part of their offense. What they do defensively, their own tight end was a very good player. That was the one that got hurt. They can defend it. But Nick, again, there's always defense, but good players seem to find a way to make plays. Nick is a very good player. Hopefully, he will get balls because he's a big part of our offense.

Q. Coach, you've been favored the last 15 games.

COACH FISHER: I never knew we were favored. We're always an underdog to me. We're always having to prove something when you go on the field. I don't ever look at who's favored or who's not favored. I never looked at that. To me, at the end of the game, someone's going to win and someone's going to lose. Got to play your best game no matter if you're a favorite or an underdog. We're going to play our best.

Q. Can you talk about the difference between Jameis Winston's play last year versus this year.

COACH FISHER: I think he's a better player this year.

Q. Why?

COACH FISHER: Because I think he's grown, and I think last year, when we had certain matchups, we could go to him in one‑on‑one situations, and you knew you're going to win. This year that's not‑‑ has been the case a lot, is now these young guys has really evolved, I think it's gotten that way at the end of the year, but early, when those guys were learning, it wasn't like that. I think them not getting to places that he wanted them to get to, to be able to get balls and him used to playing in the‑‑ he was playing at one level, they were playing at another, and not allowing frustration to set in, make a few mistakes. I think, to me, that's the sign of a great quarterback. I make a mistake or two, and I say, okay, I can go do this. He can flip the switch and be almost perfect when he had to be. Learn to be more patient. Learn to develop those guys. He's helped them as much‑‑ coaches have done a great job, but Jameis is how I want you to run this route, where I need you to be there, why I need you to be there, and doing a lot of mentoring on the side to them too. I think as a team leader and the dynamics of the guys around him, he's really grown and had to have more patience at times, checking balls down and doing those kinds of things. Even when he's made mistakes, very few guys, they go in the tank. He doesn't. I've got to do this and process it and move on. He's gotten better to me as this year has gone on. He's playing better now than he was a year ago.

Q. How do you slow down Mariota?

COACH FISHER: Daggum, get 14 guys on the field. This guy is so dynamic in how he commands his offense, he gets them in the right play. That's the other thing. If it's about his ability, but his mind, he's getting them in and out of the right place, putting them in the right situations. But then he can beat you in the pocket, he can beat you with his feet. He understands the run game. He can zone read you, quarterback run. All those things are very dynamic. You're never going to stop a guy like that. You've got to try to contain and make sure the guys around him don't get all theirs.

Q. What concerns you, not with Oregon, but with your team going into a game like this?

COACH FISHER: I don't have any concerns. I just hope we're ready and play well. Now, I think we compete in the game. I don't worry with how we compete. I don't worry about our physicality. I don't worry about our mindsets. It's just that we play well. We don't have a turnover here or a busted assignment. We make sure we communicate. I think in big games communication is the key, especially on defense making your calls. On offense, making sure you're on the same page and we don't have miscommunication or things like that, which go in any game. Those are the things that you make sure, when you go in, that you're dotting I's and crossing T's as a coach. This is what we're going to do. This is how we're going to do it. In games like this, those are the critical things.

Q. In playing a game last year of the caliber you guys played out here, how much of an advantage is it for your kids?

COACH FISHER: It's big because you played a National Championship Game and been in the spotlight. At the same time, we've had game day five times in the last year. Being in big games, playing in big moments. We've had an Orange Bowl, three ACC Championships, a second Rose Bowl out here, last three years numerous game day opportunities throughout the last couple of years. Dealing with media, dealing with hype of a game, dealing with expectations of a game, I think all that's about‑‑ I think we have to go through those things to get to where you are as a program. You have to learn and grow in those situations. And you can't grow or learn until you get in those situations, and we've been in a lot of them since the five years we've been here, and the last three we've really taken advantage of those opportunities.

Q. Jimbo, I think there's seven 1,000‑yard rushers who are true freshmen this year, and that doesn't even include Dalvin. When you were recruiting this class, did it jump out as being a special class of kids in that position?

COACH FISHER: I think it gets better and better‑‑ I say that every year. I look and say, boy, this is a great year this year. Look at those juniors and sophomores. It's just amazing to me the type of athletes that are coming out in our sport and are not just getting there, which I think we've always had that, but I think they're so much more ready to play. I think the physical training in the high schools. I think the weight lifting, the demanding, the coaching, going to all these seven‑on‑sevens nationally, all these national camps‑‑ I think it's exposed these kids to what being in college is going to be like and not always being in your little home base and living. I think that's all been part of the success these guys have had so early in their careers.

Q. When did you know the right time was to push the button on Dalvin?

COACH FISHER: I think just as you watch practice. Don't try to put a square peg in a round hole. Trust your eyes as a coach, watch him in practice, how he competes every day. Not just when he makes a big run, but how's he pick up the blitz? Even if it's a four‑yard run, the reads he made. Does he understand the blocking schemes? All those kind of things. We just had to feel for that in time.

Q. Coach, going into the game on New Year's Day, New Year's Eve and college kids, what do you tell the kids on New Year's Eve? Got a curfew?

COACH FISHER: We've been in those situations a few times. They'll be focused for this game. We'll be in bed before the bell rings, I promise you that. The good thing about being out here, you can celebrate it with your Eastern Time Zone, you know what I'm saying?

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: They'll do all that and be in bed. I think the kids understand the magnitude of what they're in. There will be plenty more New Year's Eves.

Q. Do you have a relationship with Bill Belichick, any interaction with him?

COACH FISHER: No, I haven't. I met him once or twice. He was actually down at LSU one time when we were all on staff with Nick. Have a tremendous amount of respect for the guy. To me, of all the people who run organizations and do things the right way, I think he does it as well as anybody.

Q. When you were working with Nick, did he talk about things?

COACH FISHER: Yeah, he would talk about Belichick, things we did with him. And I think everybody learns from whoever you're around, you know what I'm saying? We all do. You have to take them and put them in your own little world to make them work for you. Nick, a lot of things he believed came from Bill, which a lot of those came from Parcells. There's a tree of guys that you learn from, but then you've got to still take them and put them in your own perspective and make them work.

Q. How would you say you've made your own version of the process, how you've changed what you've learned from Saban.

COACH FISHER: The big picture things are probably very similar, but I mean their day‑to‑day basis of how we do things, maybe the interaction of staff, maybe the interaction‑‑ I don't know all exactly what they're doing right now, but I think putting your own stamp on it personally, I don't know if I can dictate exactly what those were, but I think it's very important that you do do that so that‑‑ because I always say, when people try to emulate other people, they become fake, and you're constantly‑‑ I'm never thinking: What would Nick do? What would Bill Belichick do? What would any of the guys that come from that system do? I never do that. I just think: What would I do? When you start doing that, you become fake. People don't follow people who are trying to emulate people. They follow people who believe in themselves and what they do. I have a lot of philosophies and that, but I think: What's the best thing for me to do? And I try to make my own decisions.

Q. Do you know Coach Meyer well?

COACH FISHER: I don't know him well, but I know him. He does a great job.

Q. Do you know him well enough to say you have some similarities?

COACH FISHER: I don't have enough background with him to say that. He's a great guy. Every time I've met him, we've had great conversations. It's usually on these kinds of public outings or media days.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: Like I said before, I don't ever look for an underdog or the favorite. It doesn't matter to me. It's about playing well. If we play well, we believe in our team. That's going to be the key for us.

Q. Have you talked to Jameis about his future, what's next for him?

COACH FISHER: We had a brief conversation about it, but that's something we have plenty of time to address when the deadlines come up and all that. We want to focus on playing now.

Q. What's your role in that?

COACH FISHER: We'll sit down with him and his family, because I have to find out what they're thinking anyway, and I'll have information based on what I have and give it to them. But it's not my decision. It's their decision. I want what the players want. And then give them as much of the right information as we can possibly gather so they can make an educated decision on the right decision.

Q. Is it hard to take off that coach's hat and say: I want you to play for Florida State?

COACH FISHER: No, it's not. I think, as a coach of Florida State, you have that goal, but you have a responsibility to the kids you coach to put them in the best situation to be successful in all phases of their life, and that's the way I always try to go about my business.

Q. Is it important to you that the team have a positive image nationally? What can you do about that?

COACH FISHER: You've just got to keep doing things right. We do things right. We feel like we do things right. So we've just got to keep doing it. In time, everything will handle itself.

Q. Have you guys made any changes in the way you do things in terms of how you handle‑‑

COACH FISHER: We feel our program is as good as anybody in America, and we have great kids. We have better kids than we have players on our team. We're as talented as anybody. We're a talented team. But we have better kids than we have players.

Q. Is being here last year helping these guys right now?

COACH FISHER: I think it definitely does. It's all part of the maturation of your organization. Like I said, we went through‑‑ it's our second Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, three ACC Championships, numerous game day opportunities. I think you have to learn to compartmentalize and manage those situations. The only way you do it is get into that situation. I think it's all part of where our program is now. Some of the things that we didn't have success‑‑ as much success early on the first year or two, we had a lot of success, but I think it's a process that you have to grow. I think we've grown and understand that and handle that very well.

Q. How much of a luxury is it to have a kicker like Roberto?

COACH FISHER: When you can walk out there and say‑‑ you know, nothing's guaranteed, but you're as guaranteed as much as you can. And your play calling, your process, how you set games up, wind directions at the end of the game, knowing you have his ability‑‑ all those factors of him, he has as much influence on how I call games maybe as much as anybody.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I'm anxious to see how it works. I think it's good. I just hope we don't keep destroying it and taking away from the Bowls in college football. I think the Bowl system is a very good thing. I think it's how kids have tremendous experiences. It's how programs and other organizations grow and continue building themselves and getting in Bowl games. I hope we don't make it to where, if you're not a college playoff, you're a total failure. There's only going to be so many teams in it. The Bowl system itself is still one of the great things about college sports.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: They've played here a few times, but we played here last year. Right now, when you get to teams of this caliber and this magnitude, I don't think it matters where you play. I think it's about two good teams. They've been able to play on the road‑‑ we've won 18 straight games away from Tallahassee. 18 games and a championship game, or a Bowl game or an away game. And they've won a ton of away games. So in other words, my point is, if you're at this venue, you've learned to deal with things on the road. You've learned to deal with things, whatever it may be, and good teams are going to play.

Q. (Off microphone). Oregon has its own. How do you go about that?

COACH FISHER: My wife originally started Kidz 1st Fund. We could have went private, but we felt with the platform we have, bringing awareness to this disease, we've raised over $1 million for this year alone. What we've been able to do‑‑ our thought process is not only for our son Ethan but all the other children who don't have this platform, we thought it was our responsibility to go out there and bring awareness to this terrible disease so that other families don't have to go through some of the things that we went through. And hearing the words Fanconi anemia and hearing there's no hope. Now there's a lot of hope. They're making tremendous strides. We felt that was very important with the platform we had. I always say God didn't put things on your plate that you can't handle. We felt it was very important to do that. It was my wife's idea. She brought it out, and we built it from there.

Q. Do you use this as a resource for that?

COACH FISHER: They did early. They talked to him a few times early. My wife did and people on the board. I specifically haven't myself because my wife was involved in it early in the process of learning about it and hearing about it. They were very helpful.

Q. What do you see in Jameis?

COACH FISHER: Ability to compete, just like all the great ones do. To lock in and have that focus, like a Tom Brady, like a Peyton Manning, like the old John Elways and Marinos and Montanas. When he gets the ball in his hand, not only does he believe we're going to score, his team believes we're going to score. That's the key, that he has such an effect on the players on our team.

Q. Being in this situation a year ago in the Rose Bowl, is that helpful?

COACH FISHER: I don't think it hurts. At least you know you're capable of doing these things. The more you're in situations and the more scenarios that come up and you're able to be successful in, that's another notch you can put and say I know we can do this. We all revert back to history and things we've done when we get in these situations, and having that confidence, I think it does help.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I don't know if they've rallied around him. I think they just‑‑ they believe in him, and they know the truth of the circumstances of everything that's happened, and so that's why they love him, and they treat him just like normal. They get on him just like they do the rest of them. He's part of the team just like everybody else.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: The way he practices, the way he carries himself, the way he works out, that he stays after practice every day and watches film for three hours a night. They know he's prepared. They watch him go on the field, and every play for him in practice is like the National Championship. He's a competitor in practice. He's a competitor in preparation. They know the hard work he does, and they watch him go out and get the results. And he carries himself with such a confidence but not an arrogance. The kids really love them. He's not above them. He doesn't make that, but they understand that, when he says things, that he knows, because he's put the work in, and they've got great respect for him.

Q. Rashad Greene is so efficient as what he does.

COACH FISHER: I think Rashad is very smart. He studies a lot of film. He's very‑‑ he's a student of the game. But he's so smooth and athletic‑‑ and people don't realize how fast‑‑ I mean, he can fly. He's got big tempo. He can run routes at high speed. A lot of guys can run fast with the ball in their hand, but they can't with body control when they don't have the ball and be able to‑‑ they can go that way fast. He can go that way and stick his foot and go this way. He understands the game. He has instincts. He studies the game. He understands how to run routes and create them. Because he's not a huge guy, you know what I'm saying, he's such a technician. And he's just as quick sideways as he is vertical. He's just a technician in the game. He just controls his body so well when he runs routes. And you're able to move him to different positions because of his intelligence level.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge of Marcus Mariota?

COACH FISHER: I think it's not getting caught up in Marcus Mariota. They have a lot of good football players. They have a lot of good football players. They run the football. Their back, Freeman, has, what, 1300‑and‑some yards. They have receivers, tight ends. They play good on defense. Don't get me wrong. Mariota is your focus, but you've got to be careful not to focus on him so much the other guys kill you. You've got to be able to play a complete game. And the thing about him is so unique, he can beat you in the pocket, he can beat you in the right ‑‑ in and out of the right play, his own region, throws the ball, and then keeps plays alive. He's going to get his plays. There's no way to ever stop a guy like that. You've got to contain him, but you've got to make sure the guys around him are contained also.

Q. You have the luxury of five‑star guys and all these resources. But both yourself and Helfrich have quarterbacks. Does coming from a place where you didn't have all these resources help you in coaching?

COACH FISHER: They did a study. One team was third, one was sixth, one was ninth, and we were 26th as far as your budget. We have a lot, but some of these guys have excess. You don't take excess. Getting players and understanding people, I think, is the key. Being able to get players‑‑ everybody talks about recruiting five‑star guys. There are a lot of five‑star guys. Anybody can say that guy's going to be a great player, but I think evaluating players is the key to everything, and it's not ‑‑ if a five‑star is really a five‑star or is he not, but how does he fit in your organization? How does he fit in your system? It's not just about going out and getting all these great players, it's the types of players they are, what they are as people, and how do they fit into your organization or your scheme? That's where you've got to be very careful. From that, in college football, you see that a lot. You see how people recruit the systems and different types of things, and I think it's very important.

Q. Do players think it's like you against the world?

COACH FISHER: No. I don't think‑‑ I think they think it's us against us because I think in athletics it's how you control yourself. You can't worry about what other people think or what other teams do. You can only control yourself, and they understand that.

Q. Do you think people appreciate what you've done, or do you think it gets lost?

COACH FISHER: I don't know. I don't keep up with that because I look at things that affect our team or media reports or things I know they'll read. I don't know, but I do think what this team has accomplished is pretty significant. To be able to win 29 games in a row, win a National Championship, three ACC titles, a Rose Bowl. I think it's significant for our program.

Q. Is there any chip on the shoulders of the players?

COACH FISHER: I don't think there's a chip on the shoulders because of that, but I think, when you play, if you don't have a chip on your shoulder for just wanting to be a great competitor. I think every day Michael Jordan was the most respected guy in the world, but every time he walked on the floor he had a chip on his shoulder. Kobe has a chip on his shoulder. To compete. And I think that's what we have.

Q. You don't apologize for three things, defending Jameis, defending your team, defending your conference. You've gotten criticism for that. I don't think you'd ever back off of any of those issues.

COACH FISHER: No, I wouldn't, because I base things on facts, from what I believe and what we are. If I believe it, I'm going to say it. And I truly believe in all three of those things.

Q. Do you care whether some of the general public or some of the media don't like Florida State?

COACH FISHER: What people think, I can't control. We have to keep doing things the right way. We have better kids than we do players, and we keep doing things the right way.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I think it's part of recruiting. Kids of our generation like those types of things. I think it has generated a niche, as I say. When you're in recruiting and you're in business, you try to create a niche that other folks don't have. You know what I'm saying? They do have Nike right there, so they can get a lot of uniforms. But at the end of the day, it's how you play in them, and they have played very well. Everybody gets caught up in the uniforms. I don't look at the uniforms. I look at those guys playing, and they're pretty daggum good. That impresses me. They're pretty good at recruiting. It's a niche they started years ago, and it's worked for them.

Q. How satisfied are you with something?

COACH FISHER: Great. We've had a high graduation‑‑ we've graduated a ton of our players. Our APR is extremely high. Florida State is a very, very tough academic school with a 27 ACT, a 4.0, or a 1350 to even get in school there. So it's a great academic school.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: We give a lot of support, and we recruit guys who are very well‑rounded human beings. Just playing ball is not the key. They want a degree. They want to be good people. Then they want to be great players.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I don't know. You'd have to ask them. You're asking the wrong guy.

Q. But is it important to players in general to know that it matters that a coach has their back?

COACH FISHER: Just like you. Would you want your boss to have your back if you were right? Would you want your wife to have your back if you were right? Would you want your mom or dad to have your back if you were right? As a coach, we're like a father figure to those guys. When they're wrong, we address, we punish, we move on. When they're right, you fight like heck for them, and that's our role as coaches to do that.

Q. I don't get to be right in my household.

COACH FISHER: I'm never right in my household, I promise.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: It doesn't hurt because at least you're used to the venue. You're out here. You know‑‑ you're familiar with the place, with the stadium, with the atmosphere and the environment. I think it doesn't hurt, that's for sure.

Q. What's it like, Dalvin, Travis, all from the same area. Is this something the guys can bond with from their backgrounds?

COACH FISHER: I think the kids from Miami have a lot of pride and take a lot of pride from being great football players. There's so many that come from that area, and they all tend to grow early because I think the competition level and the maturity level from the backgrounds they've grown up in, they've had to be mature. I think from that standpoint is does help them.

Q. These guys are really good friends. What do you attribute to that?

COACH FISHER: They've bought into, not just friends from being down there, but our team is a very close team. Our team is a tight‑knit group. It's like a family. They buy into that. And they're from the same areas, and they see we all have the same goals and aspirations, so you tend to gravitate toward people that have the same work ethic and goals and aspirations as you do.

Q. Some of those areas are tough. When people saw you recruiting way back when, just walking around and shaking hands. People were surprised at that. Why do you think people were surprised?

COACH FISHER: I don't know that they're surprised. When I first became a coach, that's where I went to. To me, people are people. If you treat people like you want to be treated, people will respond to you. It doesn't matter where you're from. I grew up tough. I grew up out in the country. I don't think race, color, money. I think you treat people honestly and the way they want to be treated, people respond to you.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I think that is very important, being able to be guided. Before you can guide them, they have to trust you, and I think that's‑‑ and that takes time. That's very crucial. I think the people around them have to be‑‑ it's hard for them because a lot of times it's their first experience at it too. Trust and building a relationship is very critical early in recruiting.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: Oh, yeah, he puts in as much work as anybody. He's in film three hours a night doing his work. He'll be ready to play.

Q. Do you feel like the defense has been overlooked?

COACH FISHER: Oh, definitely. You've got to get stops on the other side. This is a complete team. You've got to be able to play offense, defense, special teams. You play at this level and this caliber of the game, all of those phases are critical.

Q. Talk about the mental toughness of your team.

COACH FISHER: I think the more you win, the more you grow, the more confidence grows. I think the more you're in tough situations, you find out about yourself. Sometimes‑‑ everybody says, well, I can do this. Well, when you're in it, how does it come out? And then when you start having success doing that, then you grow as a person. I think what you're able to accomplish. If any man can, why can't I? Why can't it be them? If a man can, why can't it be us? You know what I'm saying. I think we focus on not the outcomes, but making the next play. They've grown in these situations. It's helped their confidence.

Q. I know we've asked you a lot about the committee and the rankings, do you feel like this is an opportunity to have the committee bond?

COACH FISHER: This isn't about the committee. If we're worried about trying to prove ourselves‑‑ listen, we're in the College Football Playoff. We're one of the most elite teams in the country. It's about us just playing and taking care of our business.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I think we've been in this environment a while. Being in a National Championship, our kids have been in this‑‑ and actually being in this same venue, I think it does help. Hopefully, we can reflect on that. If they let us carry some points over, I'll take those. They won't give me any, though.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: People don't realize how good of a player Nile is. Hopefully, he plays well in this game. Getting Eddie healthy, getting Mario up front, our linebackers. It's going to be critical. We've got to try to control the line of scrimmage, or try to as much as we can. They run the football. You've got to be able to stop that run first.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: And also, now that adds depth. There's more guys to keep in the rotation to be able to keep fresh bodies.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: I think we're ready. Our guys are prepared. We don't want to be ready yet. We want to be ready on the 1st. Our kids understand the preparation to get in that mindset. We've been in enough games to do that.

Q. Talk about the emotion.

COACH FISHER: There's going to be some emotion. Our past experiences of playing in all those big games, I think they'll know how to monitor that.

Q. (Off microphone)?

COACH FISHER: Our practices have been tremendous, as good as I've been around for a long time. I feel very comfortable with it. Our guys have a great mindset.