FSU Beat: Jimbo Fisher Takes a Major Step Backwards

In a game eerily similar to Florida State’s late season loss to Virginia in 2011, the Seminoles failed to reach what was a very attainable 6-0 start on Saturday night in Raleigh. What is being taken nearly as hard as the loss itself by the FSU fans is the reaction from Jimbo Fisher, who is now in his third season as head coach at Florida State. Watching the game on Saturday night, there were several instances in which it was easy to surmise that Fisher did not trust his fifth year senior QB, EJ Manuel, to get the job done and had resorted to trying to shorten the game and simply get out with a win. It seemed that Florida State was playing to protect a lead, rather than extend it.

Sure enough, Fisher himself admitted to perhaps being too conservative immediately following the game, but he would change his tune in Monday’s press conference. After accepting blame on Saturday, Jimbo Fisher did everything but on Monday, and the FSU media and diehard fans took notice. Repeatedly blaming the evening’s shortcomings on execution and maturity, Fisher postured that he had no regrets in his playcalling and all but said he just wished his kids had performed better. The lack of accountability stings a great deal, given it is one of the prime symptoms that grew increasingly old with Bobby Bowden during the final years that effectively soured his relationship with loyal Seminoles.

At one point, Fisher went as far as mentioning that a lack of execution plagues teams all over the nation from week to week, a statement that is nearly as crazy and irrelevant as Coach Bowden’s classic: “Half the teams in the country lose every Saturday.” Fans, supporters and media members are not interested in the at-large state of college football, they are much more interested in knowing why Florida State has now lost five games under Jimbo Fisher in which the Seminoles were 10+ point favorites. People have no interest in hearing Fisher explain shortcomings with X’s and O’s or blaming the players for their execution, especially considering that he is now in year three. These are all his players, and the majority of them have been in his system for two to three years minimum. If they aren’t mature, focused and ready to execute under these circumstances, they never will be.

Such inexplicable letdown games are the type of contest that many doubters feared would occur prior to the season when all the hype had come back, yet again. Lo and behold, those doubters were right. That game did occur, and when it did, Jimbo blew his opportunity to accept his role in the failure. He went on further to explain that undefeated seasons are rare, as if this absolved himself and the team from the loss. There are a lot of people who want desperately for Jimbo Fisher to succeed at Florida State. Some because they are sick of waiting and know that if he isn’t the guy, it will be a much longer wait, and some because they have a genuine affinity for Fisher as a coach and person. Regardless, it will be difficult for him to achieve that desired success if he limits his own growth with the type of attitude displayed on Monday.

There are a laundry list of complaints and criticisms against Fisher as a head coach. There are many who argue that his offense is unnecessarily complex, which does quite a bit to level the playing field between his elite athletes and skill players against their competition. Execution is seemingly always an issue for Jimbo Fisher’s offenses, and there is always a litany of excuses and explanations as to why certain plays failed to work out. Despite the fact that other coaches in other systems across the country do not struggle in the same way to field high powered offenses, Fisher has proven that he is married to his process and is not very flexible or open to change.

How things play out from here for Fisher and the Seminoles will depend on how well he can survive this season. At the beginning of the year, this was very much an ACC Championship or bust situation. This is still the case, but even if Florida State were to win 10 regular season games, it would be tough to convince a big time coach to replace Jimbo Fisher after firing him for winning 29 games in three seasons. Here in lies the conundrum. Florida State may have put themselves in a UGA/Mark Richt type of scenario, where they have a coach who is really good, but clearly not great. It is possible that Fisher could get over the hump and take the ‘Noles to elite status, but to say that faith has dwindled among the fan base would be a mild understatement.

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Adam Tolliver, @primediscussion on TwitterAdam Tolliver is an Atlanta, GA native and college football enthusiast who has been covering Florida State Seminole sports for three years. He is currently a contributor at Tomahawknation.com and XOFan.com, where he consistently delivers honest and accurate commentary and reporting regarding Florida State Seminole Football and Men’s Basketball. You can find Adam’s personal twitter account @primediscussion, where he spouts out about all things under the sun, or you can follow @Unconquered_FSU, which is exclusively dedicated to FSU Sports.

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