Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has called plays for Florida State as a head coach since he took over the program in 2010. Even though there were coaches with the designated title of offensive coordinator, Fisher retained the play calling duties. That has started to change this season as Fisher became more and more comfortable with co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders.
"Well, it's something that he had mentioned to me actually in the offseason two years ago," Sanders said. "We discussed it again last year during the offseason. And as the season was beginning we discussed it. And he would always say if I ask you to call it would you be comfortable? Yeah. Well, he would call it. And that's kind of the way it went. And then during the course of the season he called me into his office one day during the week and said hey would you be comfortable calling this game this week. I'm like coach I always try to get ready just in case. He said I want you to take it and be ready to do it the rest of the year. And kind of the way we've done it is I'll call it for a while. He may see something. He'll call plays. He may be calling a series or two. I'll say coach how about such and such. And it's been kind of a cooperative effort along the way. And neither one of us have a big enough ego that we're worried about how it works out. We're just worried about winning and doing what's right. And I think so far it's worked out really well."
While Fisher has had high praise for Sanders as a quarterback coach, Sanders believes that Fisher started gaining confidence in his ability as a play caller in the second game of the season against South Florida.
“It’s been really good," Sanders said. "From the second game I was here, I don’t know the first game, but probably the second game I felt like Jimbo put value on my input on game day. Typically between series, ‘hey what do you think, what do you see.’ And I would tell him what I thought, what I saw. He gained a lot of confidence in the things I was telling him at that point. That went on for the next season and the first part of next year. Whenever we made the transition for me to be the “primary play caller” things had just kind of flipped. I’d call it, Jimbo would tell me what he thinks, what he sees and what I would see. I have unbelievable confidence and respect for what he says, so usually if he says something we’re going to get to that pretty quick. There are times where Jimbo says ‘I got a pretty good feel for this, let me take this series’ or ‘let me take it for a while’ and he may start calling plays. And it goes back and forth. As I mentioned before, none of us have ego to where we’re worried about who’s calling it, who’s not. If he’s seeing it, he’s feeling it, great. If I’m feeling it and seeing the game pretty easily, let’s go that way. I think it’s a great benefit from two guys who have done it and aren’t worried about who’s getting credit.”
Fisher handled the duties for the the first four games of the season, but handed over the reins to Sanders for the Miami game. Florida State gained 539 yards and averaged 7.8 yards per play that game.
"[Miami] was the first one he’d ask me to call," Sanders said. "That was the first one, that was week five. So I’m going to say that the last seven games it’s been somewhere around 50/50, 60 something like that. He did pretty much all of them, then after that…If things are going well and we’re in a rhythm, nothing really changes. …He called me in and said ‘hey, you think you can handle this one this week’ and I said ‘ya.’ I thought it was interesting timing because it is a pretty big game. But also the fact he did it that game showed me the confidence he had in me.”
Fisher started letting Sanders call plays because he felt the team needed him in other aspects, and that coach Sanders could handle the task.
“There were other areas of the program that I needed to be in," Fisher said. "Different teams take different areas of concentration from the head coach at times. You have your set role, but you can tweak and turn in certain areas. You have to have people you can trust. I’ve got to leave this…you’ve got to leave your kids sometimes. You can’t be with them all the time. You have to leave them with somebody. Randy has tons of experience and he is a great coach.”
That being said Fisher isn't ready to give up play calling at Florida State yet.
"Maybe one day down the road totally," Fisher said. "How it goes. I don't know if I'm totally ready for that, but I've just got to have the experience to know where I need to be with the team at times. But I know that I've got a guy there who can do a great job."
Having an experienced coach like Sanders that Fisher trusts to call plays effectively will only help the Florida State offense going forward.