Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, who will succeed legendary coach Bobby Bowden after the Seminoles' bowl game, said on ESPN's College GameDay that it has been a week of mixed emotions.
"I'm sad and happy," Fisher, 44, said Saturday in his first public comments since Bowden announced Tuesday he would be stepping down at season's end. "I'm happy for the opportunity which we have, but I'm sad because my hero is going. Everyone knows my connection to the Bowden family, and a lot of the principles and values in which I believe in coaching came from Bobby Bowden many years ago."
Fisher played and coached with Bowden's son Terry before coming to FSU as offensive coordinator in 2007. He was named as Bobby Bowden's replacement after that season. Fisher said he and Bowden have talked frequently this week, and their relationship remains strong.
"He's been very supportive," he said. "What happened between he and the administration, I stayed out of. And I had no problem with Coach Bowden wanting to come back for another year, but that's a decision they made. We just have to move on from there."
Fisher has been busy since a loss at Florida to end the regular season, wooing players as well as searching for a defensive coordinator to take over for the retiring Mickey Andrews. (It seems likely Fisher and the new coordinator will overhaul the defensive staff.)
"We have a couple guys in mind we're talking to right now, and that process is going very well," he said.
As for how long it will take Fisher to get the Seminoles back to national prominence, he said the glut of talent in the state historically has helped the Big Three of Florida, Miami and FSU stay close with each other.
"If you get out there and you work and you recruit, you can get good football players here; people want to come to Tallahassee," Fisher said. "The other thing is build the infrastructure of our program. That's where I've been very fortunate to have two great mentors, Coach Bowden who does things with as much class and dignity as anybody ever has in college football, and then I've also been very fortunate to have been around coach Nick Saban, who I believe builds as good an infrastructure around his players as anybody.
"So a lot of my beliefs come from both of them. If we implement all those systems, which I've been very fortunate to be around both guys, I don't think it takes a long time. To put a timetable on it, I don't know if you can say that, but I think we can get back to the top here relatively quick."