Jimbo Fisher Isn't to Blame for Florida State's Offseason Troubles

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterJuly 11, 2015

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Florida State's troubling run of offseason headlines is not a product of Jimbo Fisher; he can only do so much. But as the public face of university leadership, what happens next is entirely on him, which is as unfair as saying the Seminoles' national championship for the 2013 season was entirely his doing.

It is convenient to applaud a head coach for his team's triumphs. When business is good, this man is buried in fortunes, trophies and job security—perhaps the most desired commodity in coaching. It is just as easy, if not easier, to throw this same man under the nearest bus when things turn for the worse—especially when his program acquires a reputation that it's lost complete and utter control.

It is a cycle that turns seamlessly and without warning. It is as rewarding as it is unforgiving. It is not fair or right to claim full responsibility for either—the highs or the lows—but this is the life of a CEO of a big business.

Balance, in this regard, may not exist.

Still fresh off that title and a dominant run of recruiting, there are zero concerns over the way Fisher acquires and develops talent. He is a great teacher and an exceptional offensive mind. On pure football assessments alone, he is a master of his craft.

But given the recent run of offseason turmoil, the pressure on Fisher has reached a boiling point of sorts—at least from a perspective outside the Tallahassee fortress. The growing perception is that the program is losing control.

After booting freshman De'Andre Johnson from the program following the release of surveillance video that showed the quarterback punching a woman in a bar, star running back Dalvin Cook is facing serious allegations that could impact his football future tremendously.

According to ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, Cook has been charged with misdemeanor battery and suspended from the football team indefinitely. The charges are the result of a 21-year-old woman claiming Cook punched her multiple times outside of a Tallahassee bar in June.

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Running back Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles rushes with the ball against the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on J
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The details of the incident are troubling to say the least. The allegations are merely that in present time, although damage is already being done.

Cook should (and will) be given a chance to present his side of the situation until a conclusion is made. It is only right. It is why he is only suspended from the team at this present moment, and rightfully so. But the growing perception of the program, led by its undeniably gifted coach, is turning negative even before this next conclusion is reached.

Well aware of his surroundings, Fisher wasted little time—even with the legality of his latest obstacle hanging in the balance—to release a statement on the matter.

He did not hide from the string of incidents or the reputation; he did not insist we wait for more details. The message, via Bob Ferrante of Noles247, was abundantly clear:

Recent events at Florida State University involving members of my football team have brought a lot of attention to the school and program. It is important to me that our fans and the public be aware that I do not tolerate the type of behavior that was captured on video and that was most recently alleged. We spend a good deal of time educating our student-athletes about appropriate behavior and their responsibilities as representatives of Florida State. The majority of our players are exemplary, but clearly we must place an even stronger emphasis on this, and I personally promise we will.

I remain committed to educating our young men and holding them accountable for their actions.

Florida State is a great university. Our fans and supporters deserve better than to hear of actions that are not consistent with the school’s proud history and national stature.

We will do better. I will not tolerate anything less.

These words are significant. Releases sent out by schools following off-field incidents of this nature are typically vanilla in nature and loaded with legal terminology.

This was personal. It was essentially an apology for things outside of his control.

It has become increasingly popular to declare a coach responsible for the negative transgressions of his athletes. Behind a computer, it is convenient to blame one man for this behavior—a man whose access with these young men is actually limited—which oftentimes takes the ownership out of the hand of guilty parties. 

No college football coach can control what his players do after hours. He can hammer home the importance of quality decision-making and solidify the consequences, but the reality of this setup is that Fisher has very little say in what his players do. It is ultimately his decision to bring them on campus to begin with—which is significant—but he cannot be there at strange parts of the night to tell them to walk away. 

That is on the players. It is on the youth to stray far from situations such as these. Blaming a head coach for what happens when players are outside the facility is both common and incomplete.

And yet like any major face of any major business, Fisher is ultimately the man responsible for ensuring this perception changes.

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 06:  Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship on December 6, 2014 in Greenville, North Caro
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Great CEOs, business minds and coaches are undone by developments outside their control all the time. When things go bad, especially on the field, changes are made to create a perception that the next hire will do better. It doesn't mean the individual being replaced was bad at his job. One doesn't reach that professional level by accident. But to create a perception of change and offer a new voice, it is oftentimes the course of action. 

The stakes are high, and the business is often unfair. Fisher is now one of the highest-paid coaches in his sport, and deservedly so. When his team won a championship, he benefited most financially. The flip side of this is how responsibility is determined in troubling situations.

Ultimately, it's on the young men to do the right things and avoid the horrific things being done and alleged. That cannot be stressed enough. Before blame or doubt is cast elsewhere, look directly at the people involved. 

These recent situations go beyond youthful ignorance. They are life-changing events that must be avoided, football players or not. They are a product of the people who create them, not the coach whose access with these young men is closely monitored and limited.

This part is sometimes lost. It's significant to his overall cause. Regardless of who's to blame, however, Fisher must find a way to repair a dwindling perception through means that are mainly out of his control. 

It will be his job over the coming months and years to recreate a positive reputation. As acting CEO, this is his responsibility. It comes with his title and salary.

But it will be up to the young men—just like it has always been—to see the whole plan through.


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