NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says winning the national championship was the culmination of a four-year process that began when he replaced Bobby Bowden as the head of the program in 2010. The next challenge is to sustain that success.
Fisher now finds himself in Bowden’s old shoes where titles will be expected from a passionate fan base. Florida State beat Auburn 34-31 Monday night to win its first crown since 1999.
“You’ve got to go back to ground zero and you can’t worry about expectations,” Fisher said Tuesday. “That’s the thing, once expectations get so high, is to not let complacency set in.”
“It’s human nature, you take winning for granted. You take success for granted,” he said.
A quick glance at the roster shows why Florida State (14-0) will enter 2014 as the favorite.
The Seminoles return Heisman quarterback Jameis Winston for his sophomore season and lose just three senior offensive starters. Florida State must replace four senior defensive starters and Fisher said he thinks there are up to three underclassmen who have decisions to make about a possible move to the NFL.
“The future is bright,” freshman cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “We know what it takes now. We know how it feels. We don’t be disappointed next year from not being here.
“We want to make this thing a dynasty. Florida State is back to where it should always be.”
That senior class was Fisher’s first as head coach and was the cornerstone of the new foundation. The 2011 class, however, was widely considered the No. 1 recruiting class in the country and one of the best in school history. Then there’s the 2012 class that includes Winston, another handful of starters and more young talent that had to wait their turn.
This was not an old team that will need to replace starters all over the field.
“I don’t care how talented you are,” Fisher maintained. “This team has to go back, get its own identity, get its own leadership and develop that, and that’s going to be our challenge now. It’s how hungry can you stay to be able to do it over and over again, and that’s going to be the challenge and our mindset and that’s going to be my temperament going in, to be able to set that stage so we can do that and stay on top and be very competitive at the top.”
“That’s our nature as humans, it’s not too grind, it’s not to push. That’s why there is only one champion at the end,” he said.
Fisher did get a chance to savor the moment late after the game, surrounded by friends and family in his hotel room. He sat half asleep in a chair, exhausted, and nursed a pulled hamstring he sustained running down the sideline and chasing an official after Auburn wasn’t called for a horse collar tackle at the end of a catch-and-run by Rashad Green late in the game.
“You feel like you want to sleep for about a week after these seasons,” Fisher said. “We’ll get back tomorrow and give the staff a day or so and then we’ll get back recruiting and we got to get going.
“It’s time for another one,” he said.
Twenty years after Florida State won its first national championship under Bowden, the Seminoles won the third in school history with his successor. The Seminoles broke a string of seven consecutive national champions from the SEC.
Now Fisher and Bowden both have an undefeated season on their resumes.
“It’s kind of fitting to me,” Fisher said. “It was Miami and Florida State every year. They had the teams. They were in it, the Nebraskas, the Oklahomas. The SEC couldn’t get in it. But I think it’s very fitting that Florida State come full circle back and like I say, maybe we don’t play in the SEC but we play in the South and we’ve got good football.”
“It’s like the reckoning. Things are getting back in order again,” he said.
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