Fisher has a plan to bring Florida State back

 

Tallahassee, Fla.—For the first time in my professional life I walked into the office of the Florida State head coach and somebody other than Bobby Bowden was sitting behind the desk. Despite my personal admiration for Bowden and my disappointment at the way he was pushed out the door after 34 seasons, I have to admit that Jimbo Fisher looked comfortable and in charge of the Florida State program.

“A lot of people have asked me if it feels different sitting in this chair,” said Fisher, who was elevated to head coach after serving as head-coach-in-waiting to Bowden for three seasons. “I’m sure it will be different from time to time when some of these administrative things pop up. I don’t mean this is an arrogant way but I don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s not something I can’t do. I feel like I know where I want to go.”

There is evidence of Fisher’s vision in the office. To the left of Fisher’s desk are about 30 footballs and other stuff (hats, etc.) that needs to be signed. To his right are two architect’s renderings. One is of a much-needed indoor practice facility (at a cost of about $15 million) that Bowden wanted for years so that his team would not be at the mercy of the inevitable late afternoon thunderstorms in the Florida panhandle.

The other drawing is a proposed new dormitory on Tennessee Street that would house athletes and other students. (Note: The NCAA eliminated athletic dorms in 1996 but athletes can share a dorm with other students). The dorm, which would include a dining hall and the academic support system, will cost about $31 million. Fisher can’t say when the two structures will get built but he has heard from some donors who may get things rolling.

Fisher can’t say this but I can. Rightly or wrongly, there were some big money people at Florida State who sat on their cash waiting for the Bowden issue to be resolved. Now that it has, some of that money will start flowing again.

“When we get those two done I think we’ll be in pretty good shape,” Fisher said. “We’ll be on our way.”

Talking to people at Florida State, even those who still profess their affection for Bowden, the Seminoles are already on their way.

“This guy has got a plan,” said Eddie Gran, who spent 16 years as an assistant in the SEC before leaving Tennessee last December to join Fisher at Florida State. “I’m very excited about being here.”

Gran is one of five new coaches that Fisher brought on board after taking over. Gran, considered to be one of the South’s best recruiters, is the oldest at 44. New defensive coordinator Mark Stoops and linebackers coach Greg Hudson are both 42. Dameyune Craig, who played quarterback for Fisher at Auburn, has come on board as recruiting coordinator. He is 35. Defensive end coach D.J. Eliot, a former recruiting coordinator at Rice, is 33. The Florida State staff has suddenly gotten a lot younger.

“The staff is a good mix of people who can help our players get better,” said Fisher. “This is a high-energy bunch. And they can all recruit. We have good players here. We need to convince more to join us.”

From 1987-2000 Florida State had a run that most college football people believe will never be repeated. For 14 consecutive seasons the Seminoles won at least 10 games and finished in the final Associated Press Top Five.  In those 14 seasons FSU won 152 games and two national championships.

After that run Bowden would be the head coach for nine more seasons but would get to 10 wins only one more time (2003). The best final ranking in that stretch was also in 2003 (11th).

Many reasons were given for the slippage in the program: Bowden’s age and the uncertainty of the future; the departure of offensive coordinator Mark Richt, who became head coach at Georgia in 2001, and Bowden’s decision to name his son, Jeff, to replace Richt.

But the simple fact is that in the late 80s and 90s Florida State was THE place that the elite football player wanted to at least visit. It was the sexy place to play football. It didn’t matter if a kind was from Walla Walla, Washington or Pensacola, Fla. Kids wanted to come to Florida State because Bowden was winning and turning out bunches of NFL players. At some point that changed and the program declined when fewer and fewer great players came to Tallahassee.

“The difference in the talent in Coach Bowden’s great run and in the final years was night and day,” an ACC assistant coach told me. “It wasn’t even close.”

Fisher has always shown Bobby Bowden the proper deference and will continue to do so. “All you have to do is look around to see what he built here,” said Fisher. “There is a reason there is a statue of him in front of this stadium. Every one of us who works here owes coach Bowden a lot.”

But Fisher also knows that now it is his job to take the legacy that Bowden created and to build on it. His job is to put Florida State back into the yearly discussion for the national championship.

“It’s not like we’re trying to do something here that hasn’t been done before,” Fisher said. “Coach Bowden and all those great coaches and players set the standard. Our job is to get Florida State back there.”

 

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108 comments Add your comment

lanier

March 31st, 2010
8:52 am

good article i think he will suceed. tell me Tony is Shultz gone for good? 10 days is a long time for a personal matter

Steve

March 31st, 2010
8:54 am

Bobby Bowden, “We were willing to join the SEC as long as we didn’t have to play Alabama and Auburn in the same year, but the SEC declined.” L. A. Times, 9/20/90, section C9.

Bowden was 71-2 during 1992-2000 against ACC opponents.

He would have been just another coach in the SEC. Look at all his SEC losses in that same time frame.

SEC Fan

March 31st, 2010
8:59 am

Heh heh, FSU will continue its path of mediocrity. They will not again reach the heights they did with Bowden in his prime. Bobby was a very special coach and the tradition at FSU is pretty weak except as it relates to him. Miami and Florida will be in ascendance for the foreseeable future.

Nothwithstanding the previous, it must be said that Demayeune Craig always struck me as a hell of a player and inspirational leader. Jimbo Fischer? Not so much…

Kiffinisatosser

March 31st, 2010
9:04 am

You can dress it up in Chief Osceola’s buckskin and surround it with Seminole mumbo jumbo but at it’s heart, this school is still the Florida State College for Women.

mowreck

March 31st, 2010
9:04 am

I also am concerned about Jeff Schulz. Hope everything is ok. He must have had a death in his family or something like that. Really, miss his column everyday. Hope he is not considering changing jobs. Get back as quick as possible Jeff! We all miss you.

Kiffinisatosser

March 31st, 2010
9:07 am

They should tear down Joke-Shamble stadium and build a roller derby rink surrounded by fast food outlets to provide employment to FSU grads.

SEC Fan

March 31st, 2010
9:14 am

We would all be talking about Vassar and its plans to maintain its glorious football past if only Coach Bowden had gone there to coach instead of FSU.

Howard

March 31st, 2010
9:14 am

Tony…glad to have you back…means college football is not far off. Reasons FSU fell by the wayside? First, Bowden lost Mark Richt and Chuck Amato. FSU was never the same after they left…even Amato coming back couldn’t recapture the magic. Second…FSU developed this thug-mentality where winning was the bottom line…see Janikowski and Peter Warrick cases and Bowden’s special rules for them. Third…coaches at colleges around FSU got better and took away many of his recruiting territories. For example…when Richt went to UGA, he robbed Bowden of all that south Georgia talent that used to flock to Tallahassee. The greatest player in FSU history came from where? Ron Simmons…Warner-Robins, Ga. Bowden also became involved in nepotism…involving hiring family members for jobs for which they were unqualified. Good coaches either left him or refused to come due to that. Bowden’s age became a recruiting tool for other coaches…they did the same thing with Bryant at Bama and w/Paterno to an extent at Penn State. With chinks in Urban Meyer’s armor showing…maybe Jimbo can exploit him in recruiting a kid to come to FSU. I really feel that Randy Shanno at Miami and Fisher at FSU will begin making the slices of the recruiting pie in Florida more equal than they have been in a long time. Finally…the ACC developed into a stronger conference than it was when Bowden was winning all those games each and every week. FSU lost that mystique…esp. playing at home…which also hurt them.

David

March 31st, 2010
9:17 am

It’ll be tough to get back to 80’s/90’s FSU with Florida next door and all that elite talent that used to go to FSU has been siphoned off, to a degree, with the rise of USF and UCF nearby.

Jake

March 31st, 2010
9:20 am

Jimbo has his work cut out for him. Things in college football have changed since the “Bobby Run” on the wins. I don’t see this program returing to the historical wins it had in the past. Yeah, there’s some big time money down there to be thrown around, but what major colleges today don’t have it if they need it.

Gator Mike

March 31st, 2010
9:21 am

Bobby Bowden was special for FSU and college football whether one liked him or not, and the way FSU tossed him under the bus is disgraceful. Bobby deserved the one kmore year which he wanted. Personally, I do not see what is so special about Coach Fisher.
Hopefully, the GATORS will continue to hammer the Noles.

SEC Fan

March 31st, 2010
9:27 am

It is an interesting quesiton whether Urban’s star actually is going to wane a bit. All of this disappearing act is bound to have some impact on UF. The problem for the other schools though is that nobody else in the state of Florida can provide the exposure that UF can because of being in the SEC and the SEC’s contract with ESPN. Even though I love SEC football, I am a bigger fan of college football as a whole. This ESPN contract is downright unhealthy for the sport.

brandon

March 31st, 2010
9:28 am

good story, tony.

Kiffinisatosser

March 31st, 2010
9:33 am

Bobby Bowden wasn’t all that. He hurt his program by hanging around too long and tainted his legacy by nepotistically hiring his son. Then he tried to exert power from beyond the grave by engineering Jimbo’s appointment. He recruited thugs and individuals of downright felonious character. He was unable to monitor academic compliance and has been in scrapes from that. All in all, the FSU administration just seemed to turn a blind eye to all of it because Bobby was the archetypal good ole boy.

South Georgia Nole

March 31st, 2010
9:44 am

I’d be pretty worried if I were UGA or that Ag School in Hogtown with Fisher now in charge of the entire program. He turned around the offense and with Bobby’s pals gone from the defensive side of the ball that should also improve. The ‘Noles should win their division this year and be back in the ACCCG for the first time since they faced VT in Jax.

Funny that most of the people who complain about how badly Bobby was treated are not Seminole fans/boosters. If he had been at your school, you’d have wanted him out too. He overstayed his welcome and began to run us into the ground.

Also, Ag School fans should pipe down when talking about player conduct. Since Urban has come to Hogtown y’all have us beat in the felony department. Dead people’s credit cards, violent assaults and gun crimes. Go ‘Gators!

Steve

March 31st, 2010
9:45 am

Here is the most telling stat. Bobby Bowden has a losing record to every CANE coach with a NC. Count em 4. That speaks volumes about his 1) Coaching abilities in the games 2) the type of head to head recruiting he was doing against 4 cane coaches.

He also has a losing record against the Gators.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the ACC.

No one cares about FSU since they aren’t in the national spotlight. Once they get a good team, then you will hear more about them.

Kiffinisatosser

March 31st, 2010
9:55 am

I am no florida fan there South Georgia Nole. Urban is another guy who hasn’t met a future felon he didn’t like so long as the guy ran a 4.4.

South Georgia Nole

March 31st, 2010
9:58 am

Thought you were one of them Gators Kiffinisatosser. After a closer reading of your name (good one by the way), I’m pretty sure you’re a Vol.

SaintsLSU

March 31st, 2010
9:59 am

FSU was and always will be my favorite non-SEC team. I remember they used to get the better of us in the early 90’s when I was a kid going to Tiger Stadium. And the uniforms are the 2nd best in college football, LSU being the best of course. Anyway, I think they are on the rise. Ponder will have a great sr season, but I wonder about the defenese. Hopefully the new DC can get them up to speed.

DP

March 31st, 2010
9:59 am

Please Tony, enough of the whining about how FSU did Bobby Bowden wrong. The man is 80 years old, the program was in disarray and getting worse every year. If Bowden had put FSU ahead of himself he would have stepped down 5 years ago. And as far as the “one more year”, Bowden never suggested he’d be satisfied with one more year until the heat was turned up on him last year. If his team had rebounded and won 9 games in the one more year, he’d have asked for one more after that. it was long past time for him to go.

Kiffinisatosser

March 31st, 2010
10:13 am

This name is a holdover from last year…:-) I support a traditional SEC non-power with a special hatred for UT!

Bill

March 31st, 2010
10:18 am

I to miss Jeff. Hope he is ok.
FSU will be just fine with Fisher…I look for big time football again.
GT basketball…..Fire Paul Hewitt, Please!

SC Ace

March 31st, 2010
10:41 am

As a lifelong Nole fan I will never say anything negative about Coach Bowden. I agree with Howard’s analysis above (except the last point about the ACC getting better – FSU sunk to the level of the conference, not vice versa. The SEC has more cache with recruits, TV exposure, etc.). But it was time for Bobby to step aside. I’m excited about what Jimbo is doing.

Curious George

March 31st, 2010
11:33 am

Does Coach JImbo’s plan to bring back Florida State involve FREE SHOES?

A pre-paid legal defense fund?

Even-EASIER college girls?

Under-the-table pay increases for players for lure better talent to the school?

Legalized and university-subsidized marijuana for players?

Hiring Nick Saban away from ‘Bama?

#1 BAMA FAN

March 31st, 2010
11:36 am

I think a big question will be if Jimbo can keep the recruits in class, out of jail and out of the news…..Bowden did a good job covering up the mistakes. RTR

SC5

March 31st, 2010
11:58 am

Jimbo is modernizing FSU Football. The program was stuck in the 90’s and Bowden couldn’t adjust. Jimbo turned around the offense and now that he has total control he will turn the program around.

FSUownsSouthGA

March 31st, 2010
11:59 am

South Ga Nole – I agree, it was way past time for Bobby to go. UGA won’t be able to recruit south ga now that we’ve re-established the recruiting pipeline into to tally. People want to talk about talent, need to look at our roster and recruiting class. We have talent, we beat the pants off Uga to get several ga kids. Christian Green, Jeff Luc, Lamarcus Joyner, Greg Reid, Nigel Bradham, Tevin smith..Yea, there’s no talent there at all…Can’t wait to make a BCS appearance this season….GO NOLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Return TO DOMINANCE IN 2010!!!

ReptilesRule

March 31st, 2010
11:59 am

It WAS very sad the way the Bowden era ended but I think it was also time for the change. You can already see a big difference in their approach to recruiting getting alot of early commitments. They had to change because they were getting left behind certainly by not only Florida, but by their own conference. And there were starting to be alot of empty seats at Doke. I will predict a 9-3 even maybe a 10-2 this year and a trip to the ACC Champ game. But don’t know if I’m ready to say a BCS bowl yet…

ReptilesRule

March 31st, 2010
12:02 pm

I’m sorry, Doak. No disrespect intended.

FSUownsSouthGA

March 31st, 2010
12:05 pm

People want to talk about our record in the 90s vs the SEC..We had a winning record against florida who dominated the sec during that time and auburn backed out on a series with is….A dominant FSU is good for college football. We will get there way before miami will..they are in worse shape than people think

Tide Rising

March 31st, 2010
12:15 pm

Stoops turned Arizona into a top 25 defense. To turn a program like Arizona with average talent at best and playing in the high octane offense Pac 10 into a top 25 defense is really saying something. No telling what he will be able to do with the talent FSU can bring in defensively. He will definitely get the program back. It also means a lot of talent that has been going to Florida, Georgia, and to a lesser extent Alabama and others will be steered back towards FSU again. I do remember that during Bowden’s run that FSU seemed to have the top class or a top 3 recruiting class year in and year out like clockwork. I don’t see that happening again but I do see them picking off their share of recruits going forward. It’ll be good to see a proud program like FSU rise back up again.

Last, the 14 year run of 10 win seasons and top 5 finishes from 1987-2000 is nothing short of amazing. That run will never ever be repeated again. Ever!

Zach

March 31st, 2010
12:19 pm

Fisher is going to be an amazing head coach. Just listen to assistants, recruits, and reporters rave about him. He combines Saban’s organizational philosophies, Bowden’s wit and charm, and a brilliant offensive mind all in one package. He is also a tireless Recruiter.
The turnaround for FSU will be swift.

NeuroticNoleFan

March 31st, 2010
12:20 pm

Funny that SEC fans (mostly gators) never miss an opportunity to bash FSU. This is an article about the passing of the torch from Bowden to Fisher and none of us will know what kind of job Jimbo will do until the fall rolls around. Those of us who know and love FSU realize what caused the downfall of the program. But that is history and what must worry the rest of college football is what is coming in the future. SEC fans better get your licks in while you can. Its coming………

Bo

March 31st, 2010
12:21 pm

SaintsLSU … You’re kidding about the LSU uniforms, right? The yellow is, well, yellow. And the tiger on the side of your helmets is microscopic. I do like the stripes on your jerseys, though. Reminds me of Johnny Unitas and the Colts.

BamaNUT

March 31st, 2010
12:27 pm

Fsu is fixin to take over the state of Florida…

Anonymous

March 31st, 2010
12:33 pm

There’s a reason they’re called the Half-a$$-U Semen-holes!

NeuroticNoleFan

March 31st, 2010
12:35 pm

My apologies to the SEC. After further review, it appears that our neighbors to the south seem to do most of the FSU bashing. I certainly would not put those with actual opinions in their category. Maybe the uf fans are a little worried that Fisher runs things much like his old boss Mr. Saban. Certainly just cause for concern……………

North GA Nole

March 31st, 2010
12:54 pm

Steve: You quote 1992-2000. I believe Bowden had a winning record against Spurrier. Not to mention out of conference schedules against Nebraska and Texas A&M (when they were good), Notre Dame, Penn St., LSU plus Florida and Miami every year. Don’t forget, but for 3 Wide Rights, there would have been 3 more National Championship appearances. Nebraska with Tom Osborne at the helm. Those were some insane battles.

G8R GRAD

March 31st, 2010
12:54 pm

All one has to do is look at the 6th best recruiting class in the country ranking this staff earned and you know FSU’s back.
Good luck to Coach Fisher, his staff and the ‘Noles this Fall.
Seems like old times (and tough season finale games) are back here to stay.

G8R GRAD

March 31st, 2010
12:57 pm

BTW:

Where’s Atlanta Gator?

GarnetBlood

March 31st, 2010
12:59 pm

To all you worthless Gaytors. At least we never had a FLAMING QB.

John

March 31st, 2010
1:02 pm

I find it funny that SEC and UGA fans want to make fun of FSU and their past. the SEC and UGA has had it’s share of unethical actions. Jim Harrick and Charlie Pell comes to mind. The fact of the matter is that FSU is on it’s way back, something that UGA fans can not say. I’m willing to bet that UGA fans wish they had the record that FSU had during it’s hayday. The facts are is that FSU now have a staff who are all great recruiters. They are stating their claim to South Georgia, South Florida, and other area’s that are hot beds for football talent. They have 12 recruits for 2011, How many does UGA have?

poopdawg

March 31st, 2010
1:06 pm

Zach i hope you are right but i haven’t witnessed any brillant offensive anything under Fisher’s direction and that includes his stay at LSU.

Charlie Bama

March 31st, 2010
1:35 pm

There are many reasons I should NOT want FSU to return to what it hopes is its rightful place among the national programs. (I have a soft spot for Clemson, for example.) HOWEVER, deep down I want FSU back in the mix. Call me old school, or call me silly crazy. I’m just sayin’…. (Plus, the Gators could have their hands full with a reinvigorated FSU, unable to focus on the annual spanking Bama will administer in the GaDome every December, if you all know what I mean and I think you do.)

No1es1

March 31st, 2010
1:37 pm

Hey Steve, I had a few extra minutes at lunch so I thought I would go back and look up some info related to your comment about Bowden…”He would have been just another coach in the SEC. Look at all his SEC losses in that same time frame”. Let’s see, in the 1992 -2000 time frame you reference, FSU played 12 SEC games and went 7-4-1. One of those was a 7 point loss in the national title game against Tennessee, when FSU was quarterbacked by a third string former walk on due to injuries (I know, you play with what you got). The other 11 games (includes 2 bowl games) were against UF. As you may recall, UF wasn’t too shabby during that 9 year period themselves as the Evil Genius ran roughshod over the SEC by posting a combined 93 W / 21 L record which included 5 SEC titles and a national championship. Had they been in the SEC, I don’t think that FSU would have been able to so thoroughly dominate for 14 years as they did in the ACC. Having said that, even being in the SEC, I think FSU still would have been among the best in the country and probabaly would have won several conference titles (and maybe even a national title), but they just wouldn’t have had the 14 year record they were able to post in the ACC.

LOL

March 31st, 2010
1:41 pm

John, can you even read? Most of the people on here bashing FSU are clearly not UGA fans.

Mark Richt

March 31st, 2010
1:49 pm

I would think that outside of UF, every SEC team would prefer a stronger FSU. A stronger FSU creates problems for the gators, they will have to worry about winning their state and winning the recruiting wars so much, that we dawgs might stand a chance against them in Jacksonville.

seminolenastns

March 31st, 2010
2:02 pm

It’s so funny that all of these sec fans have to comment on fsu news! Thanks for the analysis guys, but really why comment on a team that isn’t in the national spotlight? Why? Because we have been and always will be nationally recognized as a GREAT program, our bad years are on par with some teams greatest seasons ie. Ole Miss 9 wins, did that two years ago as well, but they came in ranked high and fell hard, Kentucky, South Carolina and many more. Ya need to start preparing for the new seminole era because its goin to be a nice long ride at the top!!!

seminolenastns

March 31st, 2010
2:14 pm

Also find it interesting that sec fans want to bash the seminole program as playing in a weak conference, but their heavyweight “Florida” has renigged on their contract to play Miami in Miami after hosting them during their downslide, hmmmm…..guess its easier to pretend that the sec is the most dominant conference in football by not playing any real out of conference games. Why is it that Miami will play Oklahoma, Fsu will play a top ten ranked BYU and teams like Texas will play ohio state and so on and so forth, but the big sec programs will not? Makes ya wonder, why you bother taking shots!! Besides anyone else remeber bama disappeared for all of the 2000’s until saban, and gator fans remember the great Zook!!!!

Brian

March 31st, 2010
2:16 pm

Nice article. Man there are some ignorant posters on here concerning Florida State football. Noboby will ever have 14 straight top 4 finishes again but I do believe the coach Fisher will have FSU back at the top year in and year out competing for National championships again. He is just that good of a coach. We are already pulling in top talent and Jimbo can coach them up. So all you haters out there, hate as much as you want but we are coming back and there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!