Jimbo Fisher: Is 2012 a Crucial Year for the Florida State Head Coach?

ABCCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 22:  Florida State Seminoles Head Coach Bobby Bowden, (R) and Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher watch the pregame action prior to the start of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium on October 22, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Jimbo Fisher, it seems, has managed to put himself into an interesting situation at Florida State University—and it’s not entirely dissimilar from what happened with Bobby Bowden. In Bowden’s case, the bar had been set too high during the 1980s,1990s and early 2000s for a drop-off of tremendous proportions to be acceptable. During the dynasty run, Bobby Bowden flat-out spoiled Tallahassee and the rest of Seminole Nation. Winning the ACC was a given and going to the National Championship was expected.

Then, after the 2001 Orange Bowl against Oklahoma and the subsequent hiring of his son as offensive coordinator, it all began to crumble. The dynasty ended and what ensued was the darkest period in Seminole football history. Eight years later, Bobby Bowden, the man who put Florida State on the map, would be shown the door by FSU president T. K. Wetherell.

Now, Jimbo Fisher, in his third year as head coach of the Seminoles, has managed to create a problem of his own—he’s proven to be a recruiting savant who, quite frankly, doesn’t have much to show for it.

With another huge recruiting haul in the books at Florida State, there’s no questioning Jimbo Fisher’s velvet tongue. Whether it’s snaring the commitment of an elite, preppy defensive tackle out of our nation’s capital or getting the most highly sought-after quarterback in the nation, an Alabama star who happens to live in Nick Saban’s backyard, Fisher has proven that he can land blue-chippers, and sometimes even makes it look easy.

According to some accounts, the only reason he’s not getting some of his other elite targets is because he’s already stockpiled so much talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, that these kids wonder if they’ll ever get any playing time.

Stockpiling—yes, that’s what he’s been doing, and nothing short of that. His kicker will begin the season as the front-runner for the Lou Groza Award. His quarterback, if provided with protection, looks to be Heisman-caliber. He has a stable of four- and five-star running backs. He's assembled an entire platoon of quality wide receivers. And his defense may be the mightiest unit in all of college football this season—there are literally going to be several five-star defensive players riding the pine, some even three-deep on the depth chart.

So with that kind of talent infusion, Fisher has definitely elevated expectations and created a type of mess for himself—10-4 and 9-4 seasons should very quickly become a thing of the past, as FSU boosters and fans know what this team is now capable of doing.

In 2010, no one expected greatness—everyone knew Fisher was trying to get the kinks out of the mess he inherited. And in 2011, Fisher’s team did endure a rash of injuries unlike anything FSU football has seen in a long time, so that excuse was somewhat plausible.

But the depth is there this year and there will be no excuses. It’s time for John James Fisher to prove his worth not as an offensive coordinator or as a recruiter—we all know he’s great at both of those—but as the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles.

This team has no semblance of Bobby Bowden. Tallahassee is no longer “Bowden Country.” Jimbo and his family have quickly become beloved in the Tallahassee community and this is most certainly his football team.

His players. His city. His team.

Seminole Nation stands strongly behind Coach Fisher and still believes he is the right one to follow the legend. But the time to prove it is now.