Sometimes it can seem easily attainable, so utterly unavoidable -- maybe even unpreventable. An unlikely guarantee in an otherwise complicated and unpredictable world, it can feel like a no-brainer.
It will glisten in the light, becoming one of Hunter S. Thompson’s most neurotic illusions, drawing you in like the mysterious beauties that sing from mysterious rocks in mysterious waters. It can possess you.
As others have learned before our time, and as others will learn after those that were caught up in it are long gone, a guarantee might not always be what it seems.
Still, though, they inch their way through the maze, taking corners and bearing down on the finish line.
But as Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has told his team time and time again throughout fall camp, "Don’t eat the cheese; stay hungry; don’t buy into the hype that surrounds the program."
These are just a few of mantras that Fisher has leaned on during the off-season. It’s easy to get caught up in the limelight -- people telling you who you should and should not be on the football field -- but it’s about putting in the work. It’s all about the process, and Florida State’s head coach has exactly that.
"I’ve read a lot of Phil Jackson’s books," Fisher said. "From a coaching standpoint, he’s been able to three-peat three times. He talked about Pat Riley…even going back to some of the older Steelers stuff and Chuck Noll. It’s funny how each guy was so different, but the key to all of them was how they were able to relate and get the message over to their players, making sure they stayed hungry."
Fisher has totaled 45 wins since taking over the reins at Florida State, winning 82 percent of his games. He has won back-to-back ACC Championships and four consecutive bowl games. Finally getting his team to the top of college football in 2013 with a perfect 14-0 record, accumulating in the final BCS National Championship, Fisher is not quite finished.
It’s a culture that he is trying to build at Florida State.
"It’s not about the record, it’s about the program," Fisher said. "You can still improve in so many ways and not have won every game. That’s our goal. At the same time, it’s about the culture that you create and the people that you develop. I don’t wanna build a culture here where we’re afraid of losing, I wanna keep it fun. Every year, our goal is to play in the National Championship but, by the end of the year, I want us to be playing at the best of our ability. We’ll live with the results."
However, worrying about the results does seem futile when you look at the level of talent Fisher and his staff has brought in to play at FSU during his time as head coach. With Fisher at the helm, Florida State has compiled three top-5 recruiting classes, as well as a pair of top-10 classes, according to 247Sports.
With the Seminoles coming into the 2014 college football season as the preseason no. 1 team in the country, reigning National Champs, and with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner under center, Fisher wants his team to stay hungry. He doesn’t want them to believe they’re the best team in the country, but rather the hardest working team in the country. He wants them to perform each and every Saturday (or Thursday) as if they’ve never had a taste of what it’s like to step up on that podium and hoist the trophy, but he doesn’t want them to forget what it took to get there.
"Once you’re up on that podium, do you really wanna walk off?" Fisher said. "How important is it to stay on that podium? We talk about things like that all the time."
A huge part of the process, as much as learning from your mistakes, is learning from your success as well. And one of the keys to that is to block everything else out and concentrate on what you do as a team, day in and day out.
The ‘Noles have made it this far. They’ve made it through camp fairly healthy, they’ve endured off-the-field issues, and they’ll begin their season against Oklahoma State on Saturday as the defending National Champions.
And although media outlets around the country have pegged them as the favorites to win it all, they have to focus on the details, take it a game at a time and respect the process. They can’t buy into the hype.
And even though some have already polished the trophy, maybe even etching their name in it and placing it seemingly within reach, they can’t eat the cheese.