A Conversation with Jimbo Fisher: Pt. II

In the second part of our exclusive interview with Jimbo Fisher, Florida State's coach talks about the similarities and differences between the Florida and Miami rivalries, as well as the BCS vs. a playoff.


Kevin C. Cox/Getty
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher believes his team is still riding some momentum after beating South Carolina 26-17 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl six and a half months ago.

John Crist: The Florida rivalry and the Miami rivalry -- to you, how are they similar and how are they different? Especially this year since you have to play both of them in the span of three weeks, which is atypical.

Jimbo Fisher: Yeah, it is interesting. It's tough to play two emotional games that close together, I think. But that's what we have to do, so that's what we'll do. But I don't know. They're both hugely important. Florida is the rivalry, the old rivalry here that goes back and forth, but it is a non-conference rivalry. Miami's not only a rivalry but now it's a conference rivalry, which doubles the magnitude of it because you have to win your conference. But both of them are critical, and if you can win both of those games, you're usually in great position to have a chance at either an ACC Championship and a national championship. So they are very critical and they're big games and they're the reason you coach at Florida State, to be able to be in that kind of environment.

JC: One of the things that makes the rivalry with Florida so much fun is the pure hatred between the two schools. However, UF's new coach, Will Muschamp, is a buddy of yours since you were on the same staffs together, first at Auburn and then at LSU. Isn't that an unexpected spin on the situation?

JF: It is, but not really. Because he's a great competitor, and I'm a great competitor. Everybody says, "Is it hard?" We used to go at it every day in practice. When we went at it as the offensive and defensive coordinator, hey, there wasn't no friendship going on. Just like then, now we have to do it once a year. And now you do it in the recruiting battles and all that, it is. But just because he's on an opposite team don't mean you don't have to have respect for a guy, and I respect him [greatly] and I think he's a great guy. But when we go to play or recruit, and he'll do the same way to me, we'll go at it. That's one of the things I respect about him.

JC: What are your impressions of new Miami coach Al Golden thus far?

JF: I haven't met him yet. I talked to him on the phone one time, because I wasn't at the ACC meetings because of other issues. But he's been very good when I talked to him. I've heard great things about him, and I'm very anxious to get to know him.

JC: I hate to skip ahead to Week 3 already and act like the first two games on the schedule don't matter, but considering what happened to the Seminoles this past year in Norman, do you think you're going to be coaching up any sort of revenge factor against Oklahoma?

JF: You can't coach with revenge. I don't ever look at things that way. I mean, you want to win, pride and all that, but you want to win because it's the right thing to do and you want to play. You can't think about the past. You have to live in the now, what you're doing now and prepare yourself for the future. Revenge is not something... I don't use those words, and I don't like thinking that way. I think it clouds your thinking.

JC: Some people are saying, aside from all the Florida and Miami games over the years, that this is the biggest tilt in the history of Doak Campbell Stadium since the Sooners will likely arrive No. 1 in the country. Is that a fair assessment, or is this just our society's tendency to live in the now?

JF: I think we do have a tendency to live in the now. I'd have to go back and really research that in the past. But at that time, most of Florida State's major games in the day were Florida games or Miami games. I can't think of any off the top of my head that were played here that had any bigger magnitude, but hopefully we'll play well. And then one thing y'all have got to remember is, whether you win or you lose that game, it's still one game. And you've got to play your first conference game on the road (Clemson) the very next week. So, win or lose, you've got to get your feet back on the ground and go.

JC: As a person in charge of 18- and 21-year-old young men, things like Twitter and Facebook have got to keep you awake at night.

JF: We have people monitor those things all the time, and every meeting I bring it up. [The media] sit and monitor it. You've got somebody looking at it just like I do, all the time. We could ban it, but is that fair to them? But, if it gets to be where it's detrimental to our program, maybe. But we're not going to do that. Hopefully, they're mature enough that we teach them the right things to do and how to conduct themselves, and hopefully they won't make a mistake. But we are very aware of it, and I make them very aware of it. But that doesn't mean they're always going to be perfect, but we'll see.

JC: Are you a BCS guy or a playoff guy?

JF: Until they show me a playoff and how they're going to do it, then I'll believe it. But to do away totally with the BCS, no, I like the BCS.

JC: If a playoff was going to be put in place, is it four teams? Eight? 16? What's the magic number?

JF: I don't know the answer. How do you do it? Is it home-and-home? Is it maybe just one game after this, or... how many times have we truly been wrong? And it's going to change the regular season. But I want to see how you're going to do it. Is it home-and-home? I mean, if Florida State goes and plays Southern Cal on the road, how many people are going? Or we've got to play Michigan on the road. Or do you play them neutral? Do you play them like that? There's a ton of things that go into how they're going to do it before I want to... I still think the one they have's not that bad. I think it's pretty good.

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JC: Unlike most people in my profession, I'm not a playoff guy. I was sitting right there in those stands for the 1996 game between a No. 2 Florida State and a No. 1 Florida, with Florida State upsetting Florida in an incredible game. Had there been an eight-game playoff that year, the game would have been meaningless because both teams would have made the tournament win or lose.

JF: Exactly right. Before they do that, make every team have the same admittance rules. ... There's a lot of other things we need to regulate before we go doing that. Everybody wants change, but give me the change. Because football is one of the great sports that you can end on a victory and help build your program based on not winning a national championship. With the bowl games and all that, there's too much history in that, too much money in that for the cities. And the kids, that experience for the kids going on trips, I mean, all that stuff. I think it's all part of what goes on. I don't think it's broke as much as people think it is.

To go back and read Pt. I of NoleDigest.com's exclusive interview with Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, Click Here.


John Crist is an NFL analyst for Scout.com, a voter for the Heisman Trophy and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America.


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