21 November 2011
It's safe to say that the 2011 football season has been a monumental disappointment for the Florida State Seminoles. At times like these, a decent perspective is difficult to come by when passing judgment on the job being done by a head coach. We all know that college football is a world of results and what's being done right now, more so than process and what could be done down the road. With that being said, Jimbo Fisher is having a tough go at things right now as the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles.
The Seminoles entered the year with lofty expectations, which is not unusual. What was unusual is that these expectations had many more substantial reasons to be warranted than in recent years past. The team was coming off of a strong 2010 campaign that featured a 10 win season and two decisive wins over the Noles two biggest rivals on national television. Fisher and his staff had reeled in the best recruiting class in the country and current players on the roster had progressed greatly from the previous year. There was a legitimate buzz surrounding the program for the first time in a while with some whispers of a dark horse National Title run. Fast forward three months from that point and the Seminoles now sit with a 7-4 record, having lost three conference games heading into their matchup with the Florida Gators. Losses to teams like Wake Forest and Virginia were two of the least expected outcomes for the 2011 season coming in and those results have people questioning whether or not Jimbo Fisher is the guy for the job in Tallahassee.
From my view, those questions are certainly legitimate. That being said, though the question is well-warranted, I'm not completely convinced the answer is cut and dry or that there is even enough evidence available to give a conclusive answer. While there may be many different reasons for the Seminoles' disappointing season, there is no doubt that Jimbo Fisher deserves a healthy heap of blame for the way things have gone. Fortunately, he seems to be shouldering that blame well, which is the first step in proving that he is capable of fixing the problems at hand. From here, Jimbo Fisher has an incredible challenge on his hands. Whether it is fair or not, Fisher's margin for error is slim in the eyes of the FSU fanbase moving forward. 2011 has not officially ended and the talks of 2012 being his make or break year have already begun.
By all indications, 2011 was expected to be Florida State's welcoming back to the world of elite college football. Instead, the Seminole faithful got stuck with a growing pains year. The fall from expectations to reality was longer and harder this year than in past seasons due to the amount of momentum surrounding the program. Prior to Fisher taking over, many people questioned the idea of a first time coordinator taking over a program like Florida State and 2011 is the reason why. Whether warranted or not, FSU fans perceive their program as one that is too good to be some coach's first crack at running a program. They aren't interested in growing pains and learning on the job after an entire decade of mediocrity and heartbreak--Florida State fans want victory right now. For any number of reasons, Fisher has been unable to field a consistent football team in 2011. Be it injuries, lack of offensive line depth and experience or personal family issues off the field, this team simply has not gotten the job done. All this, despite showing flashes of greatness here and there throughout the season. Two of the losses on the schedule have been nothing short of inexplicable and another was a product of extremely poor discipline and execution. These are issues that great football teams either minimize or overcome and Florida State has not been able to do either. If changes need to be made, this off-season is unquestionably the time to make them. That type of call needs to be made by Fisher and it is not always an easy one for any head coach. Whether someone on his staff needs to resign or be fired or it can be worked out with the current group is the type of decision that falls on Jimbo Fisher to make and you can rest assured that Seminole fans will pay close attention to how it plays out.
Below are a few questions that I have heard asked the most over the past two days following the UVA loss. I took the liberty of answering them and do hope that the readers will share their thoughts as well.
Should Jimbo Fisher relinquish his playcalling duties and either hire an offensive coordinator or allow James Coley to take over?
-This is probably one of the most common questions and in my opinion the answer is no, not necessarily. I think execution in Saturday's game was much more to blame than playcalling. Florida State has moved the ball pretty well and scored on teams all season. Even in Saturday's loss, there were numerous opportunities and big plays, but ultimately breakdowns in execution led to failure on offense. Especially between EJ Manuel and the offensive line.
Is it time for FSU to look away from Rick Trickett and find another offensive line coach?
-With the way things have gone along the offensive line, it's difficult to make an argument on behalf of Trickett at this point. Each season there is some glaring deficiency with the front five, be it run blocking or pass protecting. It is safe to say that the line has not been completly effective in both aspects since Trickett has been here. At this point, FSU may need to consider other options.
How much have Jimbo Fisher's family health issues impacted the product on the field this season?
-It's incredibly difficult to navigate through a discussion of this nature, but the personal life of a coach is something that has to be factored in when considering the job they're doing because it is obviously going to have an impact. The life of a major college football coach is extremely demanding and stressful as is, so throwing some type of personal family crisis is bound to have an added adverse affect on things. In the early going of his son's illness, Jimbo Fisher did have to miss a few weeks of summer practice and there's no telling how much it has affected his sharpness and focus while at work. It's the type of unthinkable adversity that can't just be written off as a non-factor. Hopefully things continue to trend positively in that regard for Ethan Fisher.
Has Jimbo Fisher reached his ceiling as a head coach?
-This question is much more broad, but the short answer is absolutely not. Unfortunately, if Fisher can't get this situation turned around quickly (next season to be exact), Florida State fans will not get the best of Jimbo Fisher. He has put together some impressive ingredients thus far, but as stated earlier he will be judged greatly on his ability to make the tough decisions. That often involves staff changes and having to dispose of someone that you may consider a close friend. Fisher has shown that he can recruit well on both sides of the ball and he's fielded more consistent offenses than what we've seen out of Florida State this season. At some point, hopefully before leaving FSU, he will be able to put it all together.
Again, please feel free to share your thoughts on the above questions. we would love your feedback!
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