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Future Florida State Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher must focus on defense, recruits

Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who's now only about a month away from taking over the football program, is going to be burning up his cell phone minutes.

He's the guy solely in charge of finding a defensive coordinator to replace Mickey Andrews now that Bobby Bowden has announced he will be stepping down after the team's bowl game. And it shouldn't be a surprise if that crucial hire elects to bring in some defensive assistants.

If that's Fisher's No. 1 job these days, then job No. 1A is talking to prospects and trying to answer their questions about the staff makeover that's sure to come.

"We can let guys know as we go into it … what's going on," Fisher said recently. "It's been brought up a bunch. But like I tell them, they've got to trust in us. We'll do a good job. (I tell them), 'If we're really in it and you really like us, be patient with us.' "

It's no secret the Seminoles (6-6) need some defensive help.

They've allowed an average of 443.6 yards, 108th among 120 I-A teams, and 30.8 points, 98th in I-A. And graduation will claim three of their top defensive players: CB Patrick Robin­son, LB Dekoda Watson and S Jamie Robinson.

But Fisher is confident the team can close the gap with rivals Florida and Miami in short order.

"That's the one thing this state has shown," he said. "Whenever one of us is on top, the other two, if they put their ducks in a row … can close that gap very quickly. There's too many good players in this state."

But the question remains: How might the coaching changes — including Fisher's rise — affect recruiting?

"It's got to help that there's closure there," said Jamie Newberg, the national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "Even if these kids thought they'd be playing for Coach Bowden, it'd only be for a year."

Newberg said before the season that the Seminoles were poised to have a top-10 or top-five class but has since lost "traction because of what has happened, both on and off the field."

Still, there's plenty of time to make up ground.

"Knowing Coach Fisher as long as I have, he's always been a very good recruiter, so I expect them to do pretty well," Newberg said. "And I expect that there's going to be a renewed excitement around that program now that decisions — tough decisions — have been made.

"I know they'll do well in the future — post this February. But between now and the signing date, I think they'll be all right."

Ponder(ing) next year: Redshirt junior QB Christian Ponder, recovering from surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder, said Bowden's announcement doesn't affect his short- or long-term plans.

"I'm still going to file some paperwork (with the NFL draft advisory board) and see what they say, I think just out of curiosity," he said. "I'm pretty set on coming back."

A lasting image: He just happened to be near campus Tuesday morning and stopped by to see a media horde camped out at the Moore Athletic Center and, appropriately, around the bronze statue of Bowden he sculpted and unveiled in September 2004.

It gave Stanley Proctor a moment to reflect.

"When you do a bronze of someone, you have these desires to show things you know you're just not going to be able to in an inert material," he said. "To me, when all this settles, it's not going to be about his win record or loss record.

"The main thing that's going to last is Bobby's love for the players and the effect that he had on so many young men."

If he had another sculpture to do of him, he said he would want it to have Bowden with a hand on the shoulder of a player who had just botched a play, explaining, "I personally think that's what Bobby was about."

You might have missed it: The volleyball team (28-2) is entering the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday against Alabama A&M with its highest ranking in program history — No. 12 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347. Read his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/seminoles.

Future Florida State Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher must focus on defense, recruits 12/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 9:09pm]
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