Jan. 6, 2010
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State University director of athletics Randy Spetman, noting that it is "not a common occurrence," formally introduced Jimbo Fisher as the Seminoles' ninth football coach - the institutions first new one in 35 years - at a Wednesday morning press conference.
Fisher succeeds Bobby Bowden, second all-time in major college victories, whose 34-year run came to a close with Friday's Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia.
"It is not a common man that I introduce you to today as our head football coach," Spetman said. "A common man would not have the courage, patience and determination to follow the greatest college football coach in history. A common man would find it too challenging to accept the coach-in-waiting role and ignore openings at other top-flight programs. A common man could not have rekindled the Seminoles spirit, excitement and vision so quickly."
A veteran of 22 seasons as a college assistant, including the last three as Florida State's offensive coordinator, Fisher has hit the ground running in a job he officially inherited on Jan. 5, 2010.
"I've been preparing for this day for a long time," said Fisher. "I've been fortunate in my life to be around a lot of successful people that I have learned many, many things from. But I think the greatest thing that I've learned from them is I have to be myself. I must do things the way I want to do them, do what got me here and remember the reasons why I am here."
In one of his first official moves, Fisher announced his coaching staff and their designated assignments. Among the four returning assistants, Rick Trickett will retain his title as assistant head coach/offensive line, as will defensive line coach Odell Haggins. Lawrence Dawsey will add passing game coordinator to his duties as the receivers coach, while James Coley will add offensive coordinator to his duties coaching tight ends.
Fisher formally introduced five new assistants, all of whom were on the road recruiting.
Mark Stoops, 42, succeeds Mickey Andrews as the Seminoles' defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach. A 20-year coaching veteran, Stoops comes to FSU from Arizona where he held the same responsibilities for his brother Mike Stoops.
Eddie Gran, 44, is the most seasoned of the newcomers with 23 years at the collegiate level, including the last 16 in the SEC. Gran, who spent the 2009 season at Tennessee, has been named associate head coach and will also direct the running backs and coordinate special teams.
Greg Hudson, 42, will be assistant head coach defense/linebackers after spending the past five seasons as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at East Carolina. His 20-year career also includes stops at Minnesota, Cincinnati and Connecticut.
Dameyune Craig, 35, comes to FSU after two seasons at South Alabama. He will coach quarterbacks, the position he played for four seasons at Auburn under Fisher's direction. Craig brings NFL experience as a player and assistant coach to the table.
Darin (D.J.) Eliot, 33, is the youngest member of the staff but has spent the past 12 years climbing the coaching ranks. FSU's new defensive ends coach held that position, as well as recruiting coordinator, at Rice the past three seasons.
Fisher said he will designate either Craig or Eliot as recruiting coordinator at a later date. In the mean time, the Seminoles' new head coach will continue to work with the quarterbacks and call plays.
In his opening comments, Fisher acknowledged the importance of his faith and family - wife Candi and sons Trey and Ethan - his long-term love for FSU football and spoke openly of the influence coaches Bowden and Nick Saban have had on his career. He also shared, in broad terms, his vision for affecting change while returning the Seminoles to an elite level.
"Florida State has had a legacy of some of the greatest character, quality players to ever play in college football and I believe it will take each and every one of them and us to keep FSU on top," Fisher said, reaching out to former Seminoles. "I've met a lot of you, I look forward to meeting the rest of you. There's one thing that's been consistent throughout this university when Coach Bowden came in '76, it's commitment to winning.
"There is such a great desire to be successful here. That feeling is shared by our family, our student body, our alumni, our players and the ex-coaches that have made it that way. We won't be any different. I have stated before, there are many approaches to doing things. I will have my own philosophies on things. I will do things in many different ways, but as long as the core values and principles don't change, to me, then tradition doesn't change."
Developing an infrastructure to improve performance - academically, mentally, physically, nutritionally and socially - is paramount in Fisher's vision for the program.
"We're going to put as big of an emphasis on mental conditioning as we do physical in our program," Fisher said. "You don't need to be sick to get better. The old philosophy in coaching was getting all your players to think more of you, the coach, to get your point across. Our belief and desire is to get our players to feel better about themselves and what they can accomplish.
"Empowered, confident athletes are winners."
Fisher closed his opening comments with a reflection on Florida State's rich history under Bowden.
"History is our greatest teacher and it always will be," he said. "We're not asking to do things that have never been done here before. We're just asking to go back where they should be. With a little bit of hard work, as an old guy used to tell me, the secret to success is that there is no secret. The secret to success is hard work. Have your plan, be yourself, do what you think is right, do what got you here. That won a guy 389 games. Hopefully it will win me a bunch."