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December 31, 2012

Jimbo Fisher


THE MODERATOR:  Coach, you're one day away from playing in the Discover Orange Bowl.  What preparations are left?
JIMBO FISHER:  Well, there's a lot of preparations.  I think the last 48 hours are extremely important because it becomes mental preparation, and you're putting yourself in the frame of mind to go play a football game.  All the other festivities have been great, you've practiced but now it's time to realize what the purpose, why you're here.  There's a reason you're here.  All those things that happened to you during the week are because we have a game at the end of the week and we have to prepare for that and we have to mentally get yourself ready to prepare for a game against a great opponent who's going to play very hard and you're going to have to play very hard.  We have to put all the other things away.  It's time for everybody else to enjoy the game as far as the festivities and all that.  We have to go play the game.  There's a lot of mental preparation in the last 48 hours I think will be extremely important.

Q.  There seems to be a trend in some of these BCS games that there's a fair amount of trickery by one side or the other.  When you've got a month between games you have a lot of time to think and plan.  How much can coaches outsmart themselves?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† You can do a lot because you start seeing tons of things and then you start getting all fancy and you start doing things.¬† You have to make changes.¬† You make subtle changes to what you do but the game is going to come down to execution.¬† You have to be able to execute what you do.¬† I always tell our players, good teams, you always get frustrated with the teams that have always won championships that I've been associated with, whether it's Pop Warner, high school, college, pro, whatever it is, they do what they do and you know what's coming.¬† All of a sudden, look, I know this play, well they execute it and beat you anyway.¬† The good teams can still do that.¬† You have to have your bells and whistles and you change things up, but it gets back to a game of execution, and that's what happens.¬† The time‑‑ coaches say, well I've got all this time so I've got to do something different, I've got to do this, I've got to do that, and that's great for fans and everybody else and it's fun, but at the end of the game, base, sound, fundamental football is what's going to win the football game.

Q.¬† I'm sure you've gotten to visit with Coach Carey a little bit.¬† Can you imagine going from offensive line coach in August to head coach at this magnitude of game now?¬† Just talk about what‑‑
JIMBO FISHER:¬† Well, I think it is a lot on him, but I actually said this, and I believe this:¬† I think it's going to be tougher next year than it is right now, because you're already set in your routine of how you do things.¬† I mean, they know how they're going to do things, they have the same staff, they have the same people.¬† You know what the kids can do.¬† I think next year from a head‑coaching plan I think an organizational standpoint it'll be‑‑ not harder, but there's a lot more work to do because now you put your stamp on the program.¬† This one here, they'll kind of run status quo and do the things that they do and everyone knows what the roles are, everyone knows everything.¬† Next year I think will be even more of a transition because they have to reinvent those roles and tell everybody what they're doing and it's a different group.
But it is a lot to put on him.  I think he's done a great job in meeting him the few times I have I've been very impressed.  I think he's a great guy, and developing a good friendship.  I really enjoy being around him.

Q.  A little bit of a macro question here about your program.  How important has this game and making a BCS game been in your step towards building a program that can compete for the national title, and when you look forward in your tenure, what do you feel like you've built in terms of depth, recruiting, etcetera, that make you feel like you're on the right plane.
JIMBO FISHER:¬† That's a great question.¬† This is the first time we've been to a BCS bowl game in seven years.¬† First time we've won 11 games in 12 years and a chance to win 12 this year to match ‑‑ it's only been done two times in school history.¬† I mean, we have came a long way in a short period of time.¬† Am I disappointed in our seasons?¬† No, I'm very excited about what we've done and how we've won a championship.¬† Am I satisfied?¬† No, you're never satisfied until you win a National Championship.¬† But those things are hard to win.¬† You have to keep progressing.¬† But we've laid a great foundation with our recruiting base, we've had great classes, I think we'll have another great class this year, and to me it's one of the steps, and I said this:¬† A year ago we had high expectations, we had some key injuries, and I knew if we had key injuries at the right spots we were going to be in trouble, because the young guys behind them weren't quite ready to do the things they needed to do, you know what I mean?
But right now we've lost first‑round draft pick in Brandon Jenkins, just lost another first‑round pick in Tank Carradine, and probably a second‑round draft pick in Chris Thompson and we're still winning football games, and to me that's the difference in being a good team and being a good program.¬† I think we're evolving into the program stage of what we want to be.¬† That's where we're at, what we want to do, and I think we have our best teams, I think can still be ahead of us. ¬†If we keep winning 11, 12 games, we'll get to play next week one time.¬† And the ball bounces right and we stay healthy at the right moments, make the right calls, guys make the right plays.¬† I'm extremely happy where we're at and in three years we've came a long way from a 6‑6 football team.¬† By no means are you ever satisfied until you reach the mountain top, but you keep winning conference championships and playing in BCS games and doing those kind of things, good things are going to happen to you and I think we've taken a lot of steps in the right direction.

Q.  You took over for Bobby Bowden, everyone knows what he's accomplished.  What's the pressure been like taking over for a guy like that, and does your first BCS win relieve some of that pressure?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† I don't know, there's always pressure.¬† Our world today is what have you done for me lately, and that's just the nature of the beast.¬† You're a high‑profile, that goes with the territory and you want to win them all, but Coach Bowden was a legend.¬† Coach Bowden is a one‑of‑a‑kind guy.¬† You don't replace Coach Bowden.¬† I have to be Jimbo Fisher and move on and do the things we do, and we've done some great things, and some people like it.¬† And we do them a little different.¬† But our philosophies and beliefs are very similar, believe it or not.¬† A lot of my core values came from Coach Bowden many years ago.¬† The way you do business has to change yearly.¬† Companies don't do business the way they did 10 years ago, even two years ago.¬† We have to evolve with the times on how we do things.¬† But winning a BCS game is huge step for our program and being at a BCS game is huge step for our program, because it means we've become champions and that's the first time they can say that at Florida State in a long time.

Q.  At what point in the process after the selection do you think your kids became convinced that NIU is a good team?
JIMBO FISHER:  As soon as I turned the film on.  When you turn the film on you see a very good football team.  You see a team that can make plays on offense.  They can run it.  The quarterback is dynamic.  They can throw it.  They are very good on special teams.  They play great defense.  They can intercept the ball.  They play great run defense.  And when you watch the film, you watch guys flying around very well coached.  The discipline of what they see every day.  When you turn the turn the film on, players know who can play.  I mean, players know who can play, and they've won 21 or 22 football games.  I think it was instantaneous, I really do.

Q.  To follow that a little bit, there's such a perception that your team is going to win this game.  Does that put a burden on your guys to deliver?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† I mean, I don't think it's a burden.¬† It's part of the game.¬† In every game somebody is supposed to win, somebody is supposed to‑‑ that's why athletics is so great.¬† It's not a movie, you don't get to do a retake.¬† It's not scripted.¬† That's why we love athletics.¬† We like the unexpected.¬† We don't know what the outcomes are.¬† We don't know what's going to be expected.¬† That's why everybody has such a passion for athletics, because you're waiting to see what the true outcome is and I think that's one of the things that makes athletics very unique.
We have to play and do what we do.  That's all we can do, play as hard as we can play, play as well as we can play and do what Florida State does on offense, on defense, on special teams.  NIU is going to have a huge effect on us.  They're a great football team, but they're going to do what they do, and we've got to do what we do and then we go on.

Q.  Just from a game standpoint, are you better off to get in a shootout with these guys and better off holding the football and keeping their offense off the field?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† Well, we say that, they've averaged 38, 39, 40 points a game, well, we do, too.¬† We average seven yards a play.¬† There's only one of three teams at Florida State ‑‑¬† '93 team averaged 7 yards a play, the '99 team 7.1 and this team 7 yards a play.¬† We've been dynamic on offense, too.¬† And since '93 only three teams have averaged more points per game than we have.¬† So we feel like we're pretty dynamic on offense, too, so we don't mind being out there on the field making plays on offense and doing the things that we do.¬† There's only two teams in school history that have run for 2,500 and thrown for 3,000.¬† We're one of them.
So as far as that goes, we have a great defense and we do, but we have a very good offense, too, so we can go score our points, and I think when you put points on people, it puts pressure on people, so if we can go score points, we don't mind being on the field or we don't mind putting our defense on the field.¬† So I think either way, we've proven we can win low‑scoring games, and we've proven in the Clemson game we can win shootouts.¬† We feel confident both ways.

Q.¬† Having said that, are there any early indicators that you look at to see that things are going the way you want them to go, whether it's the line play or something‑‑
JIMBO FISHER:  I think the rhythm you get into.  Offense is a thing that goes into rhythm.  Just like both their offense and our offense, when you're on offense, I think you try to get that rhythm, and you know when your kids come off how they're responding, what they're looking at, the look they have in their eye and how they feel.  Even if they make a mistake, ok, I see it coach.  I know what I got to do.  I can fix it.  You know what I mean?  It's not something dynamic.  You can really tell when those kids come off the field where they're at when you just look in their eye and their body language.

Q.  Forgetting what it means to your kids and your program, what does if mean to you personally that D.J. wanted to stick around and obviously wear a lot of hats these last couple weeks?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† He's done that all year.¬† D.J. has been a guy who's helped tremendously in the background‑‑ we knew D.J. was going to be coordinator and what he did, and him and Eddie coming back and helping and even Mark coming back, I think they liked what we did with the program, they're very sound with what we did and a lot of those guys are going to carry on into their program what we did with our program.¬† I think they have a great love for what we've done here as a staff, our staff is close, and then also they feel good for our kids, they want to see our kids finish this season and have a great experience.¬† I think it speaks to the character of those guys that they want to be able to come back and they went and did their jobs and then be able to come back.

Q.  He told us he took a shot because he had a great interview.  How good was that interview?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† Very good.¬† I had a lot more experienced guys who came and interviewed and did a great job and when I interviewed him, I actually stopped the interview about halfway through, and he was nervous.¬† I said, don't be nervous, you've got the job.¬† I can tell‑‑ it's the way I like to do things.¬† When I talk to somebody if they have the same beliefs I do, look at things the way that I do, if they fit within our system and our realm, and I think D.J. is a bright star in this business, I really do.

Q.  A lot of focus obviously on your offense, on your defense, but your kicker is pretty special?

Q.¬† Can you talk a little bit about his legacy, just what he brings to your program.¬† It's not just doing something on the field‑‑
JIMBO FISHER:¬† He's a complete person.¬† He's the all‑time kick leading scorer in NCAA history.¬† He's already graduated in communications about 3.9, he'll finish up this spring on his Master's Degree.¬† I'd like to tell a story real quick about him that I always tell all the time.¬† You never know as an athlete how you affect people.¬† Well, my son Trey hangs with our football team, leads us on the field every week, hangs with our players, thinks he is ‑‑ and people ask me, aren't you scared of him being around those players, maybe some of the things they might say and they're mature, they're around him, and I said, no, because they do it very well.
But we were sitting at home, and we have chapel on game day every game day, and Trey was sitting at the house with Candi and I and he said, mom, can I take my Bible with the team.  She said why?  He said, I want to take it to chapel.  She said why, what made you think of that?  He said Dustin brings his Bible every day and he reads out of it, and I would like to be able to read when Clint goes through the scriptures and I would like to be able to do that.
Everybody thinks about the bad things that come about it.  My son who's 11 wants to take his Bible to our team when he's out there playing ball, running with the players, so he can have it during chapel when Clint does our chapel and be able to read it.  If that's not an influence on people, and you talk about a person who's an athlete, him as a student and then him as an individual and what he is, and he's such a great Christian and man of God and the influence he can have on little kids, to me that speaks volumes of Dustin and what he stands for.

Q.  You talk about the numbers and the history.  It sounds like there's a lot of emotional pride with this team.  How attached are you to this team and the players?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† This team is a very unique team, and I think some of y'all saw it yesterday when we went to the hospital.¬† They asked for a certain number of volunteers.¬† Our bus got full, and we had to turn it away for the number of kids who wanted to come to the hospital to see the young kids.¬† I think we had 40‑some guys go.¬† I mean, they asked for 15, 20, 25, and we had to turn guys away because the bus was full.¬† That's all we could hold on the bus.¬† I don't know if‑‑ this team is one of the most unique teams I've been around as far as what they've overcome.¬† I think the attachment comes from the seniors, from watching a 6‑6 team that struggled to get in a bowl game, to keep the bowl streak alive when EJ had to win those games when he was a red‑shirt freshman, come in and play when Ponder got hurt, to keep the 30‑something game consecutive bowl streak alive, and what they've achieved over time as they've fought through expectations and fans and people who say you're never going to get there, you can't be there, you can't do this.¬† Those guys just believed in each other, they never turned on each other when everyone doubted them, they kept staying together and they won the first championship and how they did it and the legacy in which this senior class is leaving.¬† And then I think what they have done is shown the other groups of guys on that team what it's like to be family and how to trust in each other, and love on each other and believe in each other when other people don't always do that.¬† That's very important today because of the way the structure of athletics are, because you never do enough, and that's what we are, but I think as grown‑ups you handle it, but as kids it leaves a lasting impression on you.¬† I heard Sammie Smith say something yesterday at the FCA breakfast, and it really hit me, he said he got drafted here at Miami with the ninth pick in the draft, right out of high school, was a great player, maybe as talented a tailback to ever to play at Florida State, probably the most talented.¬† And he got a call to come to the FCA breakfast, and he talked about all of a sudden he had a bad feeling, his stomach just got in knots because he didn't have a good experience at Miami, he didn't play well.¬† He remembered the first game he ever played he fumbled on the goal line.¬† The second game he came back after being out of training camp, he fumbled on the goal line.¬† People booed him and his little kids had to hear it.¬† He said, I did it, I know that, it was my fault that I didn't play well.¬† But the feeling I had about coming back to Miami, he said, that all came up again.¬† You know what I'm saying?
And as an athlete there's a lasting impression that happens with you, and the people who really understand are the guys on the team.  And I think what our seniors have done is built a bond around our team of all the times and the tough times and they've taught those young guys you have to believe in each other when other people don't and to keep that camaraderie.  And there's a genuine unity and love within this team for each other, one of the most unique that I've been around in the 25 years that I've been coaching.  It's very special to see.  You can see it.  You can feel it when you're around it, you can feel it when you coach them.
Even when the other guys have bad games, you watch our players go to the guys who have those tough times and take the criticisms and take this, and you watch them seal up around them and you watch those guys, and they build them right back.  Our players build them.  As coaches we do, but those individual players do.  They don't point fingers at each other, they genuinely have a love for each other and wanting to accomplish something, and they accomplished the first championship in a long time, and it's very special to see that.  That's a great.  This is a very unique team and I feel very close to them, because hopefully we can do that in the future and keep those kind of teams, but that doesn't always happen like that.
It's a great question.

Q.  A lot of times the cornerbacks and defensive backs are kind of measured by fans and media by their numbers.  Talk about Xavier.  Have people not gone to him a lot?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† Played extremely well, been an all‑conference corner, got voted by the coaches and I think when the draft comes he'll be a very high draft pick.¬† He'll go in those top couple rounds.
It's like anything, we measure by numbers, but that goes by opportunities.  If you don't have the opportunities, you can't create the numbers, and people, when they have genuine respect for you, they don't throw at you, they don't come at you and it's hard to create numbers when people aren't giving you the opportunities, but you keep doing your job and locking down your side of the field over there and doing the things you do.  Xavier is an excellent player.  He's one of the very unique guys in that he's big and physical, compressed, but he can also can tackle, he can blitz, he can play inside run support, he can play off.  Xavier is a very unique player and a very special player.

Q.¬† Why do you think that these non‑AQ schools have been so successful in BCS games?
JIMBO FISHER:¬† Why was Butler in the NCAA Finals two years in a row in basketball?¬† I mean, you develop teams.¬† Teams can come in all shapes and sizes.¬† Everybody says they've got a chip on their shoulder.¬† No.¬† They just play good football.¬† And there's so many good players out there in football.¬† There's more kids playing football than ever, and if you look‑‑ everybody says you want a 6'4", 300‑pound lineman.¬† Okay, if a guy is 6'2?", and he's 290 pound instead of 300, all of a sudden some big boy is passing him up, but there are a lot of guys in the NFL ‑‑¬† you look at the NFL on the rosters how many non‑BCS schools or schools that are lower conferences are in the league, there's players everywhere, and players get developed, and you get a uniqueness, they've got a great tradition there and they've had great coaches, and those teams come and every so often they have those teams that can compete and play at the highest levels.¬† And they develop confidence and once they develop confidence from winning, like I say, 21 or 22 games, it makes them very unique.¬† And the confidence in an athlete overcomes a lot of things.¬† To me confidence is the greatest thing you can have as an athlete.¬† Once confidence comes in, you change, and then all of a sudden confidence comes in your team, now you have a great team.¬† And those guys have done a great job recruiting, developing players, and they've got good football players.¬† And I think those schools, Utah's, the Boise, they beat Alabama, West Virginia, like that, but the coach‑‑ in his first game they beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl that one year, Boise beat Oklahoma, Utah beat Alabama.¬† You know what I mean?¬† They do happen, and that can happen.¬† It's going to be a dog fight.¬† It's going to be a great football game, and we're going to have to play very well to win it.

Q.¬† You haven't really touched on Lynch very much.¬† As an offensive guy‑‑
JIMBO FISHER:  Oh, it's amazing to me, how does he practice?  I mean, he does so much in the game, I don't know how he's got the energy to practice all week.  The guy runs the ball for 130 yards a game and runs it for 250 or whatever.  It's amazing what he does and the pounding and the beating.  I mean, he's not an extremely big guy.  He's well built, but he's not a huge guy, and to do the things he does, he's a great competitor, I think he has great instincts for the game, he can throw it, he can run it, he's tough, he's physical.  I think the team takes his personality.  The competitiveness in which they play with now they play with, I always say it always takes the personality of your quarterback very often and it definitely does with him.  He is one of the unique guys in college football.  It's been actually fun to watch his film.  I've enjoyed watching the film on the other side, I really have.

Q.  He remind you of anyone?
JIMBO FISHER:  Somebody asked me that.  I don't know if he reminds me of anyone.  I'm not a guy who likes to compare players because I think everyone is different in their own way.  But yeah, great quarterback, all the great quarterbacks, because they all have one thing.  They're all extremely tough, extremely competitive, they can throw it, they can run it, and they make the guys around them better.  I don't think you're a great player until you make the guys around you better and he definitely does that, so to me he categorizes himself as a great player.

Q.¬† Based on his style of play, the way you just defined it, how much pressure does he put on your cornerbacks to have to figure out, okay, run, pass‑‑
JIMBO FISHER:¬† Oh, it's huge.¬† Those linebackers, those second‑level guys, those safeties and they run it from all kinds ‑‑ empty formations, closed formations, different things he does, and you really have to have great eye discipline in your keys to be able to make sure you're making the right reads.¬† There's no doubt, it's extremely tough.

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