Watching Florida State over the past decade, since the departure of Mark Richt, I had developed a fairly stoic appearance at home or at Doak Campbell Stadium. Underneath the facade, I had stored pent up energy stewing over blown calls, dropped passes, a crowd killing QB in Chris Rix and uncreative offensive playbook courtesy of Jeff Bowden. Cumulatively, I was unsure of Jimbo Fisher’s potential after mediocre offensive performances during the last three years of Bobby Bowden’s tenure. After Fisher’s final ascension to head coach, more questions than answers had remained. Ringing hollow the mantra of “We’re back”, the team had consistently lost mental focus ending with losses over previous seasons to Oklahoma, UF and NC State. In 2009, I had viewed an anemic offensive playbook against the Gators in the Swamp. The same weekend, I had watched high quality play calling from Auburn’s offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn. Despite their record and eventual loss, Auburn had pushed Alabama. In contrast, FSU’s loss was simply a pathetic offensive outing. I had pondered, ”Is Jimbo really the right fit? How about this guy, Gus Malzahn?” Since then, Gus Malzahn had helped Auburn to a BCS championship in 2010. In 2013, as the head coach for Auburn, Malzahn had engineered a great turnaround with only one loss to LSU. This success had culminated this past weekend in Alabama’s last minute defeat at Jordan-Hare.
So, had my opinion changed about Jimbo Fisher recently? The answer was no. Coming into this season, I hadn’t known the effect of having Jeremy Pruitt as Defensive Coordinator from Alabama would mean. I hadn’t also known the impact of Jameis Winston. Moving into FSU’s ACC schedule, they had a close call with a win over Boston College (48-34). The team had realized, by their own admission, the necessity to be ready every week. From a coaching perspective, that had seemed obvious; however, the players themselves had decided to steward their destiny with pride in their effort and focus. Accruing one sided victories over Clemson, UF and Miami, I had started to become impressed with the chemistry and consistency of the team. Echoing championship caliber runs from FSU in 1992 and 1999, the team had embodied a certain collective fire on the field.
Over the past few weeks, news stories had surfaced relating to possible impropriety of Jameis Winston off the field. After the revelations of Penn State, the charges, in the context collegiate athletics, were not overly shocking. The amount of time the investigation had taken for maturing, concerning to be sure. I had discussed this with fellow alumi, family and friends. Why had these charges taken so long to come to closure? In my opinion, there had seemed to be some undue external political influences (i.e. alumni, boosters). The common man had probably expected having a trial or charges with a few months, not a year. During this past Thanksgiving, my brother-in law, a Hurricane fan, had blurted out commentary to the case, “Winning is the only thing!” The tone of this statement had repainted FSU’s run for BCS championship. I had directed a great degree of criticism at Penn State for their administrative shortcomings. My growing enthusiasm for this year’s run had weighted down with the possibility of criminal charges for FSU’s quarterback.
With the long developing legal issue for Winston, I had concluded,” Is this the reason Fisher for pulling Winston and the 1st team out so quickly during the season?” I had not known the answer but, without Winston, FSU’s odds for winning do change. This week forget the ACC and BCS Championship game, the big obstacle had remained off the field to be #1. For the sake of the other remaining players, I had hoped Winston’s legal woes to be untrue. If charges become a reality, if FSU still wins the BCS, Fisher and the team will had solidified their place in college athletics. For today, with the rest of the Seminole nation, I had continued to intently follow the fate of this QB, the coach and the remaining team.
FSU hires Alabama assistant as new defensive coordinator (Jacksonville.com)
Decision on Jameis Winston charges could come this week or next, assistant state attorney says (Orlando Sentinel)