Nearly a year ago Florida State University promised $2.5 million to Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher for “staying out of the market” the next three years and said the money was his if FSU failed to hand over the head coaching job to Fisher when Bobby Bowden retires.
After the season FSU just had, I say there’s a good chance the university – or more accurately the Seminole Boosters – may wind up coughing that money. Because right now I find it hard to believe that Fisher has given the Seminole faithful a truly compelling reason to hand him the keys to the kingdom.
That point was reinforced in the second half against the Gators when senior quarterback Drew Weatherford was brought in to try to steady the Noles following a lousy performance by Christian Ponder. After the game, it was revealed that Ponder had hurt his back against Maryland and that coaches were worried about how well he would do.
Well, guess what? Weatherford was in his own words “rusty” and not really prepared for the Gators onslaught. Hmm. Think that would have been a different scenario if Weatherford had actually had a chance to play in a couple of earlier games, like say, the Wake Forest game where Ponder was totally ill-equipped to deal with the Demon Deacons defense?
I’m willing to put aside the deception of the FSU coaches, and just dwell on the obvious: Fisher was given complete control of the offense this season and the results were decidedly mixed. He benches Weatherford at the start of the season and goes for the more mobile Ponder as the starter, a recognition perhaps that the young, inexperienced offensive line may not be able to protect Weatherford.
But the decision also said that Fisher was thinking more about the future – read when he is head coach – than he was about this season.
In some games, Ponder was a difference maker due to his legs. But as should have been expected for a young quarterback, his performance as a throwing quarterback was erratic. (FSU’s passing offense was ranked 9th in the 12-team Atlantic Coast Conference.)
Weatherford was never going to take FSU to a national championship. There were times, however, when the Noles offense needed some steady, if unspectacular play. To throw him in the second half against a ferocious UF team after having him on the bench for nearly three months smacked of desperation. That Weatherford was able to lead the Noles on their only touchdown drive of the game just makes you wonder what would have happened if he had been given a chance to play earlier in the year.
Other concerns about Fisher: He appears a bit hot-headed and seems to always be screaming at his players. His offensive game plans were hot and cold. One week he comes with up with a brilliant approach, while in other games the offensive play calling makes little sense. And of course, I would assume that if Fisher is eventually named head coach there will be a complete restructuring of the defensive coaches because it’s hard to conceive that Mickey Andrews and Chuck Amato will want to start taking orders from a person that they view as a peer not as a boss.
I’ll make a friendly little wager: There’s going to be a lot of people urging Bowden to stick around for at least one more year.