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

The Chief

April 1st, 2010
12:57 pm

Oh Steve, you make it just so easy…

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

All 4 of his losses? Two were in National Championship games– against teams that were unbeaten in the SEC. One was against an SEC champion that he beat about a month earlier.

From 1992-2000 Bowden played against either the SEC #1 or #2 team every season except 1997. He beat the SEC #1 or #2 in 6 out of 8 seasons during that time period: ‘92, ‘93, ‘94, ‘96, ‘99, and 2000. He beat the SEC champion in 4 of those seasons.

From 1992-2000 Bowden played in 5 national championship games, and won two national championships.

In my opinion the best coach/team in the SEC from 1992-2000 was Spurrier/UF. Bowden had a winning record against them during that time period too.

Feel free to point out all of the SEC coaches who accomplished the same things in that time period.

“Bobby Bowden has a losing record to every CANE coach with a NC.”

Steve, I’ll credit you with that if you can name a coach who played Miami every year from 1979-2001 (or even just most of those years), who also has a winning record against those coaches. Or if you can find a coach with more wins against Miami during Miami’s best years. Didn’t he lose 5 or 6 games to UM on the last play of the game?


April 1st, 2010
2:29 pm


Truth is that FSU, during the dynasty run of 1987-2000, beat more end ranked teams than any other program, had one of the toughest yearly schedules (you play a SCHEDULE not a conference), beat the SEC Champs in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000…


April 1st, 2010
4:51 pm

Bowden was great!!! For a while. He would play anybody, anytime and anywhere. That is one thing I will always give FSU credit for and be pissed at Foley for. I don’t blame him for not joining the SEC. They didn’t need to. I lived in Tally (not for school-went to UF) for 4 years in mid 90’s so I really , really hated FSU then. Plus after my years at UF in the 80’s I was mostly used to whooping up on FSU but now we usually got whooped. So at 7am one Sunday, at a grocery store after an FSU/Miami loss there was Bowden grabbing some canned coffee after taping his TV show on the way home. It was just me and the security guard and him in the store. I wanted so bad to taunt the guy and just say “go Canes” or “Go Gators” but I’m not a dick like most of the Georgia fans on this board so I didn’t commit the classless act that came to mind. All that being said he stayed on about 5 years too long and really handled the Jeff Bowden fiasco poorly.


April 1st, 2010
10:55 pm

Nice to see all the Gators and other SEC fans out with their long knives. I want you all to go ahead and run your mouths all you want to. FSU will be fine under Fisher thank you. And the rest of you will have your shot at a piece of us down the road I am sure. And Florida’s domination over the Noles will be over in short order. Write it down.


April 1st, 2010
11:05 pm

Unfortunately, I live in Big 10 country. I am a Nole fan and graduate through and through. One of my newest business associates is a former walk on Gator QB (played for Spurrier). When we first met he was concerned that we wouldn’t “get along.” I explained to him that after 20 years of hearing nothing but the glorification of Big 10 football and the denunciation of “Southern football” (as Big 10 fans put it), he would soon join me in supporting any SEC or ACC team. After one year, we are now very proud to proclaim to “Big 10″ lovers that while we take our in-state rivalry very seriously, any team made up of Noles and Gators could totally devistate OSU, MSU, U of M, etc., etc.


April 7th, 2010
6:39 pm

Too bad Bobby pulled the plug a year early since the Noles play my Sooners this season. Would liked to have seen the Sooners give him another loss to add to his 0-3 mark against OU in the Orange Bowl.

As for the “conference fans”, I feel sorry for you that your team is so bad that you irrationally cheer for and take credit for the accomplishments of your rivals. Bizarre.


April 12th, 2010
3:43 pm

Ghaters will be haters. Thank Coach Bowden for that. How about giving the FSU football program the recognition it deserves. If it wasn’t for FSU, you might be the doormat of the SEC. Under Coach Bowdens guidance, he not only tranformed college football at FSU, he transformed football nationwide. And who benefitted more than anyone else? The Ghaters. Reason, you were able to sign a number of recruits who did not meet the standards set by the FSU football program. That was the norm of Ghater recruiting. Remember the eras of Pell,Hall, and Zook. It might take you awhile since you have selective memory. Nothing really happened for your program during that time. Yeah, you brought in a few good players who were high recruits by FSU, not highly recruited by FSU. By doing so, your program began to take on an identity. The way I see it, you should feel honored to be mentioned in the same sentence with FSU. We all have to pay sometime so why not pay FSU the respect they earned and deserve. But if you don’t see fit to do so, it will not be held against you. Just remember ” what goes around comes around”. You’ve gotten the best of us over the past # of years and that’s understandable. Better recruits and coaching staff will see to that. You can also throw in fans as well. Now that the turmoil, academic infractions and Coach Bobby Legend Bowden are behind us. We will continue to move in the right direction that Coach Bowden pointed us in. And that’s returning FSU to the dominance that most programs feared. I don’t know of any programs that feared the Ghaters. Yet, I might have selective memory. Coach Bowden I love you to death. Thanks for all the great memories, wise remarks, young men who are productive to society, etc..etc…etc… There will never be another like you. Paterno this is one time you will finish 2nd to Coach. FSU fans nothing to worry about. Ghater fans you have lots to worry about. Jimbo will put a product on the field that most NFL teams will fear. So Ghaters, bask in the sun while you can. Toughen up your hide. Me being a die-hard Seminole fan, I have great pleasure letting you know “Kicking your a$$ repeatedly will come sooner than you think”.

Nole 4 Life

April 16th, 2010
8:40 am

Wow! There are a lot of haters out there. Fact of the matter is Bobby raised FSU to heights that may never be seen again by FSU or anyone. No Division 1 school has ever gone wire-to-wire #1 before or since Bobby did it. Dislike Bobby or love him as we True Noles do, everyone would like to have had him at their school. Will FSU be great again in football? I don’t know but I will always be a Seminole win or lose, I’m an Alum and my school will never be judged solely on the success of our football program in my book. If you didn’t attend FSU you have no idea what I’m talking about. Go Noles!