There are several well-known traditions at Florida State. Osceola planting the spear from atop Renegade. The tomahawk chop. The sod cemetery. And most recently, notes requiring players to give full effort, and Jimbo Fisher job rumors in the holiday season.
Of course, the last of those has dominated our coverage of late, and rightfully so. The Seminoles have three national titles, all within the last 25 years, and Fisher was responsible for the most recent, in 2013. Now, Fisher may be headed west to Texas A&M. And while that’s still up in the air, what is inarguable is the importance of FSU’s home stretch to finish the 2017 season.
Entering that final quarter of the season with a 3-6 record, FSU’s objective was clear: win out, or see the nation’s longest active bowl streak come to an end. Simply put: beat Delaware State, rival Florida, and Louisiana-Monroe to further a 35-year post-season streak.
The ’Noles made easy work of DSU. Likewise for the flailing Gators. And now, just one win is keeping Florida State from the longest consecutive bowl streak ever (the Seminoles are presently tied with Nebraska for that mark).
Standing in the way are the ULM Warhawks. A marquee opponent? Hardly. A top-25 scoring offense? Yes. ULM averages over 36 point per game, and while the ’Noles are big favorites, we’ve been here before. After all, FSU was a favorite in most of its losses that led to the Seminoles’ 5-6 record. Florida State is certainly more talented than the Warhawks, but college football wouldn’t be college football without upsets. And what often leads to those distractions? Outside noise. Distractions. Clutter.
Fisher, of course, is well known for discouraging “clutter” at FSU. He’s called frequently for the outright elimination of clutter, in fact. One of his more well-known mantras: “See a little, see a lot. See a lot, see nothing.” Translation: concentrate on what’s right in front of you. Do your job, block out the rest, and handle your business.
That popular invocation will certainly be put to the test against ULM on Saturday, thanks, primarily, to Fisher himself. Late season coverage has once again rightly focused on the fact that Fisher may bolt for a job elsewhere, and appropriately so. It’s a huge story in the college football world, and one propagated entirely by Fisher waffling as to whether or not he’ll stick to a 10-year deal guaranteeing him $40 million.
Florida State’s players should be entirely focused on beating ULM, but Fisher’s ambiguity about whether he’ll stay or go has infused an element of uncertainty into the program, one that seems unreasonable to ask 18-22 year-old student-athletes to simply jettison from their collective consciousness.
Fisher has recently made jabs at the media for seeking clicks. And full disclosure, yeah, websites want clicks. Just as television shows want viewers and newspapers want subscribers. And how do they get them? By providing the content that consumers desire. Fisher has created a hurricane of such coverage by remaining on the fence as to his coaching future.
He’s done so be continually refusing to answer questions about overtures from Texas A&M, and if he’ll remain with FSU. I’m reminded of something else Fisher said to his team in his national title season of 2013: "Your actions speak so loud, I can't hear what you are saying."
How perfectly that summarizes the present state of limbo into which Fisher has now thrust the FSU program via his refusal to comment, one way or another, on the inquiries from A&M. Indeed, we can’t hear what he’s saying, because he’s declined to say anything. And those actions — or inactions — certainly speak volumes.
Fisher has spoken a great deal about adhering to “the process.” Yet the most consistent process we’ve seen at this time of year remains his flirting with other programs. Has he done so to further loosen the pursestrings of those cutting checks in Tallahassee? For better or worse, sure. And in doing so, he’s also created a great deal of the clutter that he professes to despise.
The clutter caused by Fisher’s uncertainty has also affected FSU’s future far beyond Saturday’s game, though. On Wednesday night, a trio of former Seminole commits decided to part ways with Florida State. This occurred around the time that a fan asked Fisher about his loyalty to the program during his call-in show on Wednesday night. Again, Fisher’s words were scarce: he stated, simply “That’s alright.” The action that spoke “so loud” as to drown out those words: that fan being ejected from the proceedings.