Friday marked the end of an era in Tallahassee. Jimbo Fisher took a job as the new head coach of Texas A&M, ending his eight-year stint as the head coach at Florida State.
Instead of reflecting on why Fisher felt compelled to leave FSU for a job that is, on paper, worse or looking at some names to know as the search for a new coach kicks into high gear (Tomahawk Nation has done plenty of that this week already), it’s worth taking a look back at what Fisher has accomplished in his 11 total years at FSU.
Fisher, who served first from 2007-2009 as FSU’s offensive coordinator and, in the later years, the Seminoles’ coach-in-waiting, took over as head coach in 2010. His task of following one of the best college football coaches of all time in Bobby Bowden was highly unenviable.
The hire had to be a perfect one, as the patience of FSU fans near the end of the Bowden era was wearing thin. The decision to go with Fisher was a bit risky as, although he had learned under the likes of Bowden, Nick Saban and Les Miles, Fisher had zero experience as a head coach.
Still, Fisher had proven himself as a quarterback guru, offensive mastermind and ace recruiter both as an assistant and a coordinator. He took over a bare cupboard of players, at least relative to what he would go on to accumulate at FSU, and proved himself throughout his time in Tallahassee.
Here are some marks of note from Fisher’s time as head coach at Florida State:
- He leaves FSU with a 83-23 record, equating to a .783 winning percentage, the best in ACC history.
- He led FSU to its third national championship in program history in 2013 as part of the Seminoles’ 29-game winning streak from 2012-2014, the longest in ACC and FSU history and the 12th longest in college football history.
- He made Florida State relevant on the recruiting trail again. FSU finished with top-three recruiting classes in three of his eight seasons, a top-five class in five of his eight seasons and top-ten classes in seven of his eight seasons. This after Florida State had a recruiting class outside the top ten in each of Bowden’s last three seasons atop the program.
- Like in recruiting, Fisher brought FSU into the 21st century in the facilities game. FSU’s on-field success paired with Fisher’s demands for state-of-the-art amenities have led to one of the first indoor practice facilities in the nation, stadium upgrades, new uniforms for his players and updates to nutrition and strength and conditioning programs that were desperately needed. Some have panned his constant talk of facilities, facilities, facilities, but Fisher’s ever-present message has had an undeniable impact.
- Fisher had some big shoes to fill from Bowden’s on-field accomplishments, but perhaps as big a role to fill off the field in replacing a legendary leader and role model like Bowden. Fisher has carried on Bowden’s legacy of dignity, doing well to discuss his players and coaches with respect whenever he addressed them publicly. Furthermore, FIsher’s Kidz1stFund has raised upwards of $4.5 million for Fanconi Anemia research.
The yearly flirtations with SEC programs may have grown tiresome for the Florida State fan base as his tenure carried on and what turned into his final season was a massive disappointment, but there are many reasons to thank Fisher.
After all, he took over a historic program immediately after its legendary coach and not only kept it afloat, but returned it to prominence. That’s no easy task (looking at you, Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee and countless other programs that have failed at exactly that.)
For that, the Florida State fan base should always be grateful.