Why Jimbo Fisher ripped FSU football team after first spring practice
If Jim McElwain turns the Florida Gators into perennial championship contenders, the turning point will be McElwain's tirade after the win over East Carolina.
McElwain exploded at RB Kelvin Taylor after his throat-slashing gesture. Then he went off on his team in his post-game interview, calling it "embarrassing" to the team, the university, the administrators and even us lowly reporters who had to write about it.
The Gators responded by winning eight of their next nine games.
That moment popped into my head Wednesday, after Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher ripped his Seminoles after their opening spring practice.
Good coaches know what they're doing. I think McElwain's tirade proved two points: That UF's penalty-ridden history had to change, and that the Gators shouldn't be happy with close wins over mediocre teams. Those kinds of victories should be the expectation. By making that point known early, after the second game of the year, McElwain had the final 10 regular-season games to try to build the program his way for 2015 and beyond.
The same goes with Fisher.
Fisher started by calling the practice "very average to below average." Then he called it "awful." Then he said he has "never had a day on this field period like that in six years." The practice seemed to get worse as his analysis continued.
Maybe it was that bad. But maybe Fisher, like McElwain, was trying to fix a problem early.
The Noles are legitimate national championship contenders. They return almost everybody from a 10-win team, so talent isn't an issue. But remember the old coaching cliché: Hard work beats talent if talent doesn't work hard. And Fisher said FSU wasn't working hard Wednesday.
"No enthusiasm," Fisher said. "No life. No nothing."
By making a public statement, Fisher is making it quite clear that this FSU team hasn't accomplished anything yet - and might not, unless something changes. A playoff appearance isn't a birthright. Last year's 10 wins don't carry over into 2016. He wants those three losses to fuel the players. Saying it in a post-practice huddle is one thing. Harping on it to the media - and thus the fan base - has a greater impact.
And by doing it early, Fisher is fixing a problem before it festers and becomes a trend that could derail a championship run. Perhaps that's why Fisher ended his opening statement after the first day of practice with a hint of optimism.
"Glad we've got 14 more."