"You are going to get approached by different people every day," Pope said Monday night. "You have to know what things to do and things not to do. Just make right decisions the four or five years you are here because whatever you do in the dark will come out in the light and bite you."
FSU players were still trying to cope with the news announced earlier in the day -- quarterback Adrian McPherson was dismissed from the team Monday amid reports that police planned to question him in the theft and forgery of a blank check.
Coach Bobby Bowden would not give details of the violation, but said McPherson would remain in school and on scholarship through the end of the semester. FSU officials said the investigation did not involve gambling or point shaving. No one has been charged in the check forgery, and police would have no further comment until criminal charges are filed, the Tallahassee Police Department said in a statement.
Pope said the Seminoles, who are coming off a disappointing defeat at North Carolina State, must regroup in a hurry for Saturday's showdown against rival Florida. Chris Rix will start for FSU, while Fabian Walker moves into the backup role. Rix has completed 53.6 percent of his passes for 1,490 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has been intercepted seven times.
"It's a shock to everyone, what happened today," Pope said. "We just have to move on because we have a big game. We just have to rally around whoever our quarterback is. It's going to take a team effort. I know we can come together these last two games (Florida and bowl game). You have to ignore this. There have been so many things this year, just one thing after another. We have to try to put things behind us. This is not the first time something bad has happened here. We just have to keep moving on and thinking it never happened."
McPherson was 80-of-155 for 1,017 yards with 12 touchdowns and one interception in nine games this season. He was replaced by Rix for the final drive in a 17-7 loss Saturday to North Carolina State. McPherson led FSU to victories over Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Though his numbers through those three games were not spectacular -- 51-of-98 for 654 yards -- McPherson threw one interception while throwing eight touchdowns.
"He has got to be feeling bad," Pope said. "My prayers are out to him. I hope he learned from whatever mistakes he has made. I hope he learns to never to do it again. We have had so many things happened to us, dating back to when Devaughn (Darling) passed away. We just have to play it out, day by day as it comes. It's going to be in the back of our minds, but this is a big test for us and people want to know how we are going to react."
Added senior offensive lineman Brett Williams: ""He kind of let us down. I can't imagine what it is because Coach Bowden has always treated the players in situations like this like they're his own kids. He wants to be lenient. He doesn't just kick somebody straight off the team and ruin their chances. It must have been pretty serious.''
McPherson's attorney -- Grady Irvin Jr. -- met with the player and his family Monday night in Tallahassee. Irvin, who is related to the McPherson family through marriage, represented the Rev. Henry Lyons and Buccaneer Warren Sapp in past cases. Irvin said McPherson initially approached the FSU coaching staff Friday to talk about a problem.
"They said fine Adrian. Thanks for coming forward. Now go out and get them on Saturday and we will meet with you Monday about it," Irvin said. "Adrian couldn't get it off his mind. It bothered him all Friday night and all day Saturday. One of the receivers even told him in the huddle, 'What's bothering you man? You are not acting like yourself.' "
Irvin says his client's name was not on the blank check in question.
"I can tell you Adrian McPherson did not sign on that check, write on that check or anything," Irivn said. "The check was not paid to the order of Adrian McPherson. Adrian is not even the person they wanted to talk to initially. I got the sense that the lead investigator was clearly disturbed the university had taken some action and he had not had the opportunity to complete his investigation or speak to Mr. McPherson."
On the field, meanwhile, Rix believes the Seminole can rally around each other.
"This is difficult for everyone on this team, including myself," Rix said. "The biggest thing on my mind is to rally these guys and go out and beat Florida. We are all shocked by what has happened but we have to get ready for the big game. I am concerned for my teammates, my coaches and this program as far as doing my job and helping this team. I can't control what other people think but hopefully the guys who came to play football here at Florida State will get up for the Florida game. Hopefully, we will rally behind each other."
Senior defensive end Alonzo Jackson says the Seminoles have no other choice but to continue to fight.
"I don't know the jist of it (McPherson's troubles) but my heart goes out to him," Jackson said. "Hopefully, whatever happened the truth will come out. We just have to keep battling."