Aug. 5, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Jimbo Fisher’s first eight months as the Florida State football coach have been filled with milestones, but none of them quite compare to the one he’s about to notch this evening at 6 p.m. That’s when the Seminoles take to the field for the first preseason practice under his watch.
It’s a historical moment for a program that begins its 64th season of football, but its first in 35 years without Bobby Bowden, who coached – and won – more games than anyone in FSU history.
“My emotion right now is excitement, but it’s all about preparation,” Fisher recently told the media at the ACC Football Kickoff. “You have to prepare to be successful. I can’t be happy just to be here. I have the job now, so what am I going to do with it?”
Fisher has already done quite a lot, restructuring the way the Seminoles prepare for a season, from the meals they eat, to the way they’ve been conditioned in the offseason. Those are just two of the more tangible aspects of an infrastructure which has been completely overhauled since he took the reigns from Bowden in January.
Five new assistant coaches are in place, along with a new strength & conditioning coach, whose staff has tripled in size.
With all the change comes an over-sized dose of expectation for the Seminoles in 2010. FSU is the media’s pick to win the ACC’s Atlantic Division. They are nationally ranked in nearly every preseason Top 25. Quarterback Christian Ponder is on the radar as a candidate for a number of national awards; the leader of a position unit which includes EJ Manuel, which Sporting News recently ranked as the best in the country. Likewise, All-American senior guard Rodney Hudson and senior center Ryan McMahon headline an offensive line that returns 144 career starts and is widely regarded as one of the best in the land.
There’s a new defense in place under the direction of Mark Stoops, who steps in for Mickey Andrews after a quarter-century. A host of talented newcomers, who will have the opportunity to compete and contribute right from the start, will get their first taste of major of college football.
Collectively, Fisher and the Seminoles share one vision.
“I came into this program having high expectations,” Ponder said. “I wanted to compete at a national level and I expected to compete at a national level. … That’s something that has driven me. I’ve been given a great opportunity to try and change that. It’s my last year and I’d like to get us back to that level.”
Fisher has embraced the expectations that come with being at the head of a program with name-brand, national recognition.
For the better part of eight months the Seminoles have been quietly building toward this historical moment. This evening, when the practice field scoreboard horn sounds and the bullhorn blares, “Period One” – signaling the start of camp – the Fisher Era at Florida State begins in earnest.