Jimbo Fisher made no secret of how hard he was on his Florida State team over spring practice.
“I was hell this spring,” Fisher said after Saturday’s spring game. “I walked off the field some days and felt bad about practice as far as how hard I got on them, how hard I challenged them or how hard I pushed them.”.”
“I wanted to be tough, I wanted to be physical, I wanted to be demanding because it’s hard, in fall practice you can do it some, but it’s hard to be physical all the time with the injuries and things that go on,” Fisher added. “Sometimes you just have to line up and buck someone in the mouth. You have to learn to take on blocks, you have to learn to play banged up, you have to learn to play injured.”
Fisher went on to reference stories from former Florida State players back in town for last Friday’s alumni event, talking about how entire practices were restarted in the Bobby Bowden era if team effort was deemed unsatisfactory.
Now, in today’s college football landscape, that’s not something that can occur on a daily basis. NCAA student athletes are limited by a four-hour rule which prevents them from participating in more than four hours of sport-related activity, be it film study, position group meetings, or practice, in any given day.
Still, Fisher found a way to restart practice on a few occasions this spring, taking time from other activities on days where he did not like the intensity he was seeing.
“You have to build toughness. Physically, you have to build it with the hitting and the practice, but then that builds the mental toughness to be able to fight through it in those times,” Fisher said. “You have to get across what you are trying to sell right now because the parity of this game is too great. Who can mentally and physically handle the strains and toughness are the guys who are going to persevere and come out on top.”
For all the accomplishments that Florida State players have had at the collegiate and professional levels, Fisher traces teammate perception not back to in-game achievements, but to something more basic.
“I always tell our guys all the time, ‘When you walk up twenty years from now to your reunion, what are they going to say about you?’ That’s what this is all about. It isn’t about winning the game, it isn’t about being an All-American, it isn’t about playing in the NFL. What are your teammates going to say about you? You learn that out there on the practice field.”
From Fisher’s postgame comments, at least, it would seem that his tough love paid dividends this spring as his overall reflection on the offseason practices was extremely positive.
“I thought we made a lot of strides in a lot of areas,” Fisher said. “We are far from a finished product, we have a lot of things to do, but there’s a lot to work with there and the attitude is coming in the right direction.”
“I really am pleased with where we are at.”