Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said he read books written by former NBA coach Phil Jackson in an attempt to discover the secrets of winning multiple championships.
Jackson led teams to three consecutive titles on three separate occasions. Fisher is just focused on capturing back-to-back championships.
The fifth-year coach routinely lists Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as inspirations, but also mentioned Miami Heat president Pat Riley, former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll and former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson on Monday.
“The key to all of them was how they related and got the message over to their players to make sure that they stayed hungry,” Fisher said. “One of the keys to all those things was that it was serious, it was work, but at the end of the day they still enjoyed playing the game.
“We can get so caught up in not trying to lose instead of winning and playing good football. … What I don’t want us to do is create a culture where we’re worried about losing.”
Florida State, the defending BCS champions, held its first preseason practice Monday afternoon. The Seminoles ended a string of seven consecutive titles won by Southeastern Conference teams with a perfect 14-0 record.
While the Seminoles have some offseason issues – Heisman trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston was cited for shoplifting and receiver Jesus Wilson is suspended indefinitely for the theft of a motor scooter – they have enough talent to make another run. The Seminoles return 15 players who started in the championship game.
Winston served a three-game suspension during baseball season and Fisher spoke with Wilson on Monday to discuss his status. Wilson continues to practice with the team after he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors stemming from the theft last week. Fisher had no timetable for his return. Wilson was originally charged with a felony.
Fisher has refused to refer to his team as the defending champions – a habit he began immediately after winning the title in January. He wants the focus on the future and what it will take to reach the top again. Fisher, however, has constantly looked back to previous two-loss and four-loss seasons.
“Once you’re up on that podium, do you really want to walk off?” Fisher said. “How important is it to stay on that podium? We talk about that.
“We’ll throw those flashes up there to remind them of, you’re either going to walk off that podium or you’re going to stay on that podium.”
The Seminoles’ first practice was well attended as each freshman signee was academically eligible and there were few injuries. Defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample was limited with a shoulder injury and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe remains out with a foot injury.
Running back Karlos Williams said there is a different kind of hunger after putting a championship ring on their fingers.
“We want to be the first ones (to win the college football playoffs),” Williams said. “A brand new pair of (Jordans) come out, you want to be the first person to get a brand new pair. We want to be the first one to get that trophy.
“We were the first team to win the BCS and the last team to win the BCS. We want to be the first team to win the college football trophy.”
Senior receiver Rashad Greene, who could break three major school receiving records this season, said the team has the confidence of knowing how to win a title, but has be humble enough to go through the process again.
“We just can’t get complacent,” safety Tyler Hunter said. “I think we have a bigger edge now, just knowing that teams are going to come at us even harder being No. 1.”
The team returned to a new locker room that was part of a $4.25 million facility upgrade, new student apartments, a redesigned logo plastered all around the facilities and new national championship paraphernalia all around the athletic buildings. The team also sported new practice jerseys designed as a replica to the new game day versions.
“Who doesn’t love brand new stuff?” Williams asked. “I remember my freshman year, Terrell Buckley said that to us, you look good, you feel good, you play good. … We’re going to play good.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.