For replacing a legend the stature of Bobby Bowden, Florida State Seminoles Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has done quite an impressive job guiding the ‘Noles in his first three campaigns. Just this past season, Fisher led the squad to a Discover Orange Bowl victory, their first BCS victory since 1999. With yet another top-tier recruiting class signed this past February, everything seems to be coming together. But, there still may be one teeny-tiny issue that needs addressing.
From 2000-2006, Fisher was the offensive coordinator for the LSU Tigers, even winning a national title under Nick Saban during that tenure in 2003. The Bayou Bengals played to a 70-20 record during the time the coach spent in Baton Rouge, which had the Tigers’ fanbase sad to see him leave, and the Tallahassee faithful more than happy to welcome him in.
When Bowden was done and Fisher took the reins, a lot of people assumed that he would hand over his offensive responsibilities to someone else to oversee, as is the norm in college football these days. Well, that wasn’t exactly the case.
Fisher decided that in addition to him being known as the man taking over for a legend, he would also continue to assume control of the offense. To say that this decision was met with skepticism, would probably be an understatement. With Fisher’s resume’ at LSU, there were a few that thought the idea might work. Speaking as a completely unbiased observer, I’m going to go ahead and say that it is not, and Fisher needs to change this immediately. If he doesn’t, the criticism will continue to build and, at worst, he may seal his own fate in Tallahassee.
The problem certainly isn’t in Jimbo’s ability to call plays. In all seriousness, the man is a great offensive coordinator, always has been. The problem is, in today’s day and age, concentrating on coordinating an entire offense is too much for one man that has to oversee an entire 80-100 man squad.
Without a doubt, one of the hardest jobs for an offensive coordinator is having to make that snap decision in a close game. Whether you’re trying to put together a game-tying 90 yard drive with two minutes to go or figuring out the perfect play on 4th-and-goal from the 4 yard line with 6 seconds left, it’s one of the most pressurized situations in all of sports. This is especially evident in college football where one loss can ruin your entire season. It’s exactly too much pressure for a head coach to handle.
When you have the best interest of the entire team on your mind, sometimes you can become conservative. At times, maybe you become a little too conservative. After last year’s loss to the North Carolina State Wolfpack, Fisher took harsh criticism for not “going for the throat” in the fourth quarter.
There were many opportunities for Fisher and the ‘Noles to do exactly that down the stretch in that game and ultimately avoid the upset. Instead, in some crucial situations, Fisher opted for the ‘safe’ plays such as power runs and tunnel screens. On the opposite sideline, the NC State coaching staff let QB Mike Glennon loose, and the rest is history.
Again, it’s not that Fisher doesn’t know how to call plays in those situations. It’s just like a parent protecting their child, Jimbo may be basing some of his decisions on not putting his team in danger.
Turning over the reins to someone else may be the best thing at this point. Letting someone else upstairs dictate the offensive pace of the game for him would relieve some of the pressure off of his shoulders. Just being the guy that approves a few of the play calls rather than racking his brain over all of them could provide instant results.