FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher has the highest winning percentage in ACC history
Jameis Winston throws for 444 yards in victory at No. 3 Clemson.
Saturday night's 51-14 Clemson crush exorcised FSU's Memorial Stadium demons and thrust the Seminoles into national title contention
Early in a potential superstar career, it's clear that Jameis Winston and Jimbo Fisher are on the same page, writes Brandon Mellor
Wise beyound his years, Jameis Winston isn't shy about sharing the glory surrounding his growing success -- but he deserves a great deal of credit, too, writes Brandon Mellor
Seminoles pound the Blue Devils 45-7 to take home the league title for the second straight year.
Images from FSU's game against the Duke Blue Devils in the ACC Championship game.
ACC Championship Football Game Duke vs. FSU 12/7/2013 Photos by Ross Obley
Football FSU at Florida 11-30-13 Photos by Ross Obley
No. 2 Florida State vs. Florida - UTSI
Jimbo Fisher's objective when he took over the Florida State football program wasn't just putting together a couple of 10-win seasons, a conference championship, a BCS Bowl win and a top 10 national ranking, all of which he's accomplished in just three seasons. Fishers' goal was making Florida State "the program" again. Not a one-hit wonder, but a program that graduates student athletes, puts out elite athletes, wins consistently, replaces departed experienced talent with more talent. As Fisher says, "not just being a team, being a program." Entering his fourth season in 2013, Fisher's vision continues that track carrying momentum from his first, second and third seasons to bring the Florida State football program back to a place of prominence on the national stage.
After 22 seasons as a college assistant, including three as FSU's offensive coordinator, Fisher succeeded Bobby Bowden - the second winningest coach in major college football. The Seminoles' first new coach in 35 years, and just the ninth in program history, hit the ground running in 2010 and hasn't looked back. He led the `Noles to a 10-4 mark in 2010 - the most wins by a first-year coach in FSU history - and the first of two ACC Atlantic Division titles. He followed with a 9-4 season in 2011 and improved to 12-2 in year three.
With a 31-10 record in just three seasons including FSU's first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship since 2005 and first Bowl Championship Series win since 1999, Fisher has won more games than all but one man in ACC history after three seasons. Bobby Bowden, the legendary Seminole coach whom he succeeded, has the best record among ACC coaches in their first three seasons (33-3-1). His Discover Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois pulled him even with Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who posted 31-8 marks at the conclusion of their first three campaigns in the ACC.
Most impressively, since 2010, only seven FBS programs have more total wins than Fisher's Seminoles. FSU leads the ACC for most wins over the period. Only two teams from the Southeastern Conference have compiled more wins over the same stretch (Alabama and LSU). Currently, Fisher is the seventh winningest among active FBS coaches heading into 2013.
Considered to have one of the best offensive minds in the college ranks, Fisher's early success has come in all three phases of the game actually, but the cornerstone has been defense. All of his recruiting classes have been stockpiled with much more defensive talent which has produced two consecutive top five defenses the last two seasons.
In 2012, Florida State's defense led the nation in yards allowed per play (3.86), ranked second nationally in total defense (254.14 ypg) and ranked in the top six nationally in scoring defense (14.71 ppg), rushing defense (92.29 ypg), pass defense (161.86 ypg), pass efficiency defense (95.43) and opponent three-and-outs (6.29 per game). That defense featured nine players who earned All-ACC honors including four first team All-ACC selections led by unanimous All-America selection Bjoern Werner and Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, who formed one of the most productive defensive end tandems in the country.
Florida State's defense tied for the nation's lead in sacks (48) his first season in 2010 before having a breakout season in 2011. FSU's run defense allowed opposing backs to average just 2.35 yards per carry, which led all 120 FBS programs. The Seminoles ranked fourth nationally in total defense (275.0), second in rushing defense (82.7), fourth in scoring defense (15.1), eighth in tackles for loss (8.62) and tied for eighth in sacks (3.08 per game) in 2011. The Seminoles led the ACC in eight different defensive categories. Linebacker Nigel Bradham became the first Seminole in 20 years - since All-American Marvin Jones - to lead the team in tackles for three consecutive years.
But Fisher's knowledge of offenses is still where FSU will thrive. Florida State's offense reached new heights in 2012 under Fisher. The 2012 FSU offense went down in FSU history as the most productive ever racking up a school record 6,591 yards which surpassed the 2000 team for the most yards. The Seminoles resurgent running game averaged 205.9 yards per game and produced a single-season record 40 rushing touchdowns. The 6,000 yards eclipsed happened just for the fourth time since 1993. Quarterback EJ Manuel capped off his senior season with one of the most memorable in FSU history not only finishing as the most accurate passer in FSU history, but ranking among the top five Seminole quarterbacks all-time for passing yards (7,736, 3rd), total offense (8,563, 3rd), completions (600, 4th) and attempts (897, 5th), despite only two seasons as the full-time starter.
Fisher's special teams unit has been that third phase which has pushed FSU into the upper echelon. Two-time Lou Groza Award Finalist Dustin Hopkins not only became the ACC and Seminoles all-time leading scorer in 2012, but the NCAA FBS all-time kick scorer finishing his career with 466 points. That came one year after Shawn Powell's departure as a consensus All-America punter. The Seminole coverage teams are amongst the best in the nation, which has allowed FSU to win field position battles.
Year three for Fisher provided the best regular season performance by a Florida State football team since 2003 which didn't go unnoticed as a league-leading 12 Seminoles were spilt between All-ACC first and second teams while another four Noles garnered honorable mention honors. With a win over Georgia Tech in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship game and the win over NIU in the Orange Bowl, FSU closed the year ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches poll and No. 10 in the Associated Press poll cashing in on its nation-leading 31st consecutive bowl appearance. It was another stepping stone set in motion by the ground work laid beforehand.
Fisher wrapped up his second season at the helm of the FSU program in 2011 by guiding the Seminoles to a 9-4 record, capped by their 18-14 victory over Notre Dame in front of a Champs Sports Bowl record crowd. Florida State ranked No. 23 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls after rallying in its 30th consecutive bowl appearance It was a fitting finish to a season that saw the Seminoles successfully defend their state title, sweeping both Miami and Florida for a second consecutive season - something that had not been done since the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
The Seminoles displayed tremendous resolve throughout the 2011 campaign, winning seven of their final eight games after getting off to an injury-riddled, 2-3 start. Receiver Rashad Greene burst onto the scene in limited game action and put together one of the best seasons ever by an FSU freshman. Greene posted the second-most receptions (38), receiving touchdowns (7) and third-most receiving yards (596) by an FSU freshman and ranked among the top five freshmen nationally in receiving touchdowns. That, coupled with running back Devonta Freeman's freshman campaign in 2011 which saw him run for the most yards (579) by a freshman since Travis Minor in 1997, showed that Fisher's offenses continue to be a force to reckon with in college football. Success in the NFL draft also continued to pick up steam as Bradham was FSU's highest 2012 NFL draft selection going in the fourth round to the Buffalo Bills. He was joined by fellow draftees Zebrie Sanders (5th round, Buffalo Bills), Mike Harris (6th round, Jacksonville Jaguars) and Andrew Datko (7th round, Green Bay Packers).
Florida State's success under Fisher has not been unexpected. Fisher set the standard for expectations in his first season, delivering the Seminoles back to a place of national prominence with a 10-4 record in 2010. FSU capped the season with a 26-17 win over No. 19 South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and finished at No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. In addition to his season sweep of in-state rivals Miami and Florida, the Seminoles won the ACC Atlantic Division title en route to their first 10-win season since 2003.
Fisher won the most games (10) by a first-year coach in Florida State history and is tied for the second-most by a rookie coach in ACC history. He was named the 2010 Football Writers Association of America's Freshman All-America Team Coach.
Three of his players in 2010 earned All-America honors: offensive guard Rodney Hudson (consensus All-America selection), defensive end Brandon Jenkins and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes was named the ACC Rookie of the Year and National Defensive Freshman of the Year. Fisher capped off the 2010 season with three seniors selected in the 2011 NFL Draft led by his 11th NFL quarterback prodigy in Christian Ponder - the No. 12 overall pick in the draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Ponder became the highest offensive player to go for the `Noles since offensive lineman Alex Barron in 2005. Before Ponder, Gary Huff was the highest drafted FSU QB as the 33rd overall pick in the second round of the 1973 draft.
Fisher has carried the success of his first three seasons onto the recruiting trail as he put together a 2011 recruiting class ranked either first or second nationally by ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com. He did it again in 2012 with a recruiting class ranked second nationally by ESPN.com and again in 2013 with a top 10 class despite the departure of several key assistant coaches, who not only became hot commodities themselves after FSU's success in three seasons but all received coaching promotions.
While maintaining the core values that Bowden instilled over the course of his 34 seasons in Tallahassee, Fisher has a simple explanation for the sweeping changes he has brought to the program: You don't run a business the same way today as you did 5-10 years ago.
He has carefully crafted his vision by borrowing from two men - Nick Saban and Bowden - he worked under. Their influence, though very different, can be seen sprinkled throughout Fisher's own blueprint for success. Fisher has not wasted any time putting his stamp on the Seminoles. From assembling a staff of energetic, ambitious assistants, to dramatically overhauling the program's infrastructure, he has left no stone unturned. His attention to every aspect of the program - from strength & conditioning, nutrition, mental training, academic support, talent evaluation and recruiting, player development and peer mentoring among teammates - is centered on establishing an unshakeable foundation that emphasizes the whole development of each player.
Yet the greatest influences in Fisher's life have been his parents, John James and Gloria Fisher. His late father, a coal miner and farmer who demanded accountability from sons Jimbo and Bryan, helped them understand the value of hard work from an early age. Those lessons extended beyond the family farm and home and onto the fields and courts as a promising young football, basketball and baseball player.
By the time Fisher reached junior high school and became the starting quarterback, he was calling plays in the huddle. Win or lose, the car rides home with his father always included a critique of what transpired on the field.
Fisher learned about tough-love from his father, but his future was also shaped by his mother, Gloria, who retired in 2011 from the West Virginia public schools system after teaching high school chemistry for 51 years. It was Gloria who made sure that her son escaped from a life in the coal mines and followed his dream after an all-state career at Liberty High School.
He has done both and with a high degree of success. After a one-semester stop at Clemson, where he was going to play baseball, Fisher returned home to Salem College in West Virginia. He starred for three seasons at quarterback, establishing a school and conference record for career passing yardage. A two-time conference player of the year and an All-American in his final season at Salem, Fisher transferred to Samford College in Birmingham, Alabama for his final season of eligibility. He enjoyed a record-setting season in 1987 with the Bulldogs, earning NCAA Division III National Player of the Year honors, which he parlayed into a season with the Chicago Bruisers of the Arena Football League.
In 1993, Fisher joined the staff at Auburn and over the next 14 seasons, including stops at Cincinnati and LSU, he built a reputation as a keen play-caller whose development of quarterbacks was second-to-none in major college football. His list of standout pupils included record-setters Stan White, Patrick Nix and Dameyune Craig, who is the lone 3,000-yard passer in Auburn history. After guiding Cincinnati to one of its most prolific seasons in a one-year stint, he joined Saban's staff at LSU. Over the course of a seven-year run with the Tigers, quarterbacks Josh Booty, Rohan Davey, Craig Nall, Matt Mauck, JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn were selected in the NFL Draft. Russell, who was the first player selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, and Davey remain the only 3,000-yard passers in LSU history.
LSU made seven consecutive bowl appearances, won two SEC titles, posted a 70-20 record and won the 2003 BCS National Championship with Fisher as its offensive coordinator. He was a finalist for the 2001 Frank Broyles Award, presented to the nation's top assistant coach.
Fisher accepted Bobby Bowden's invitation to join the Florida State staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in January 2007 and by the end of his first year, was tabbed as Bowden's successor upon retirement. The quick ascent followed a similar arc to the Seminoles' offense, which improved statistically in each of his first four seasons.
Along the way he has significantly impacted FSU's recruiting, been instrumental in the development of quarterbacks Ponder and Manuel and set the table for the inevitable transition to the seat occupied by Bowden since 1976. The time as a coach-in-waiting allowed him the opportunity to closely evaluate the players and program as a whole; what changes needed to be made and how to work the proper channels to get that accomplished.
After having the longest tenured coaching staff in college football in 2012, Fisher had some holes to fill in the offseason but he's managed to put together another top staff in the country with more than a combined 100 years of collegiate coaching experience. They have quickly become a part of the FSU football family on and off the field.
Fisher's wife, Candi, and their sons, Trey and Ethan, are regular visitors in the football office and on the practice field as were and are the families of all his assistants.
In the same sense, Fisher treats his players very much like his own family, challenging, praising, even admonishing, when necessary. It is all in an attempt to help each and every one reach their full potential as student-athletes and responsible young adults, thus strengthening the team one player at a time.
He firmly believes that it takes a keen ability to focus on the task at hand to fulfill, not only their individual potential, but the collective result as teammates.
Fisher wants relentless competitors to define his Florida State program; players who are immune to adversity.
As a hands-on head coach who will continue to work with the quarterbacks and call plays, Fisher will remain a vocal presence on the field, while balancing a myriad of off-the-field responsibilities as he continues to shape the Florida State program in his own image.
Fisher will do that with a sense of responsibility and appreciation for Florida State's rich past and the men - Bowden and the players who have come before those he coaches today - who have built the program. Not surprisingly, he has welcomed those players back with open arms in an effort to bridge the past with the present and future.
It's that rich tradition that drew Fisher to Florida State and his time under Bowden. He's built on it thus far, but still has more left to accomplish.
A CLOSER LOOK
Led FSU to its first Bowl Championship Series Win since 1999 with a 31-10 victory over Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Fla. FSU finished in the top 10 of both the USA Today Coaches (No. 8) and Associated Press (No. 10) polls for the first time since 2003 in the coaches poll and 2000 in the AP poll.
Led FSU to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship since 2005 with a 21-15 title game victory over Georgia Tech on Dec. 1, 2012 in Charlotte, N.C. The Seminoles have won two ACC Atlantic Division titles in three years and with their 13th conference championship, trail Clemson by one title for the all-time league record.
Has led FSU to its 31st consecutive bowl appearance - the longest active streak in the nation and second all-time to Nebraska's 35 - and extended its streak of four consecutive bowl victories, which also is the longest active streak in the nation.
With 31 victories, he has collected more than any previous Florida State coach in their first three seasons. FSU's 51-7 win over Boston College on Oct. 13 was the 25th of his career, which moved him past Don Veller (24) for most wins in his first three seasons. Bobby Bowden registered 23 between 1976 and 1978.
Has reached 31 wins in 41 games, matching the legendary Bowden to reach that standard.
Tied for second all-time amongst Atlantic Coast Conference coaches for career wins in three seasons with former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen (31) and current Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer.
Highlighted by the first back-to-back sweeps of Miami and Florida since 1998 and 1999, he led the Seminoles to five consecutive wins over their in-state rivals, matching the longest such streak in school history (1977-79).
Under his three-season watch the Seminoles have recorded five shutout victories, including two in 2012. Only two Seminole coaches have recorded more shutout wins in their first three seasons at the helm. Don Veller notched seven shutout wins from 1948 through 1950 and Bill Peterson registered six between 1960 and 1962.
In 2010 he guided FSU to its best home record (6-1) since 1999 and 2000, then matched that mark with a 6-1 record at Doak Campbell Stadium in 2012. The Seminoles are 17-4 defending their home turf over his last three seasons.
Named the 2010 Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Freshman All-America Team Coach.
Won the most games (10) by a first-year coach in Florida State history and tied for the second most by a rookie coach in ACC history.
Put together back-to-back top five recruiting classes with the 2011 class ranking either first or second nationally by ESPN.com, Scout.com and Rivals.com, and the 2012 class ranking No. 2 by ESPN.com.
In posting the first season sweep of in-state rivals Florida and Miami, he joined former Florida coaches Ray Graves (1960) and Galen Hall (1985) as the only men in the state to pull off the feat as a first-year coach. The 52-point combined margin of victory over the rival Hurricanes and Gators was the widest margin in a season sweep by the Seminoles.
By winning six of his first seven games in his first year, Fisher joined former FSU coaches Don Veller (`48) and Larry Jones (`71) to notch that feat as a first-year coach with the `Noles.
Responsible for developing FSU QB Christian Ponder who, as a second-year starter, led the ACC in total offense and passing yards per game in 2009. Ponder capped off his senior season in 2010 by becoming the 12th overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Has already turned out seven NFL Draft picks in his first two seasons, matching the total produced by the Seminoles over the three previous seasons.
As FSU's offensive coordinator from 2007-09, the Seminoles improved each season to rank among the ACC leaders in total offense.
Offensive coordinator for the 2003 National Champion LSU Tigers.
Coached three players selected in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft, including No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell.
Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, announced on Aug. 5, 2011 the creation of a new national fund to fuel the quest for a cure for Fanconi anemia, a very rare life-threatening disorder that afflicts their 7-year-old son, Ethan, and many others.
Money raised through a campaign called "I Fight Fanconi" will support research into Fanconi anemia at the University of Minnesota, one of the leading universities pioneering better ways to treat the disorder, in advance of finding a cure. The campaign will raise research dollars for the Kidz 1st Fund, established by the Fishers, through the sale of t-shirts, wristbands and other products and through online donations. Less than seven months after creating the fund, Coach Fisher and his wife Candi along with their sons, presented the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital with a check for $500,000 for Fanconi anemia research during the first half of a University of a Minnesota men's basketball game on Mar. 3, 2012. The $500,000 doubled the University's current research budget for Fanconi anemia.
This type of hereditary anemia, primarily a blood disease, can affect all systems in the body and leads to bone marrow failure. For decades, the disorder was thought to be untreatable, but promising advances in medical research have improved the prognosis. To extend their lives, most children suffering from Fanconi anemia will require a stem cell transplant, either bone marrow or cord blood, yet many wait years to find a donor who is a perfect match - or never find one.
Kidz1stFund's ultimate goal is not a dollar figure. It is a cure, so that Ethan and other kids with Fanconi anemia may lead full, happy lives. Together we can fight FA for the thousands affected by this disease. Through your gift to Kidz1stFund, we can all say "I FIGHT FANCONI."
The Fishers also are making a widespread appeal for people to join the National Marrow Donor Registry to determine if they are a match for any of the thousands of people whose lives depend on a bone marrow transplant. For more information visit: www.Kidz1stFund.com.
Fisher's Coaching Ledger