- Associated Press - Monday, October 25, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (AP) - After seven games as Florida State’s head coach, Jimbo Fisher is putting his stamp on the program inherited from the iconic Bobby Bowden.

He’s already made plenty of changes and is riding a five-game winning streak that has the Seminoles sitting alone atop their division in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Florida State is preparing for another ACC showdown, this one Thursday night at North Carolina State (5-2, 2-1 ACC).

Under Fisher, the 16th-ranked Seminoles (6-1, 4-0) have been all business on and off the field. Penalties are down and individual celebrations are gone _ lest a player incur the wrath of the coach, a self-described fan of the game who holds dear sportsmanship and the game’s traditions.

“Core values don’t change, tradition doesn’t change,” said Fisher, who mixes in his own brand of psychology into his dealings with his coaches, players and fans. “If you want people to think of you in the right way, then act the right way.”

He starts with basics.

The Seminoles dress in their traditional gold pants and garnet tops at home and white over gold in road games. Fisher has eschewed _ at least so far _ the blackout, or whiteout, promotions that often serve as little more than a distraction for players.

And then discipline.

The Seminoles are averaging fewer penalties per game than they have in nearly two decades. Off-the-field problems have become more rare since two starters were kicked off the team shortly before the season began.

Showboating is out.

“You’ve got to play the game with class because it sends a message of who you are and what you are,” Fisher said. “I don’t want to take the fun out of ball, (but) go have fun with the guys who have helped you score a touchdown. Act like you’ve been in the end zone before.”

One freshman player caught laughing on national television after Florida State was flagged for a personal foul at Oklahoma was hauled into Fisher’s office at 7:30 in the morning the following Monday and immediately disciplined.

Fisher even instructs game officials to let him know if any of his players are mouthing off or taunting the other team.

“Treat the opponent with respect,” Fisher said. “Treat him with respect by playing him hard and hitting him right in the mouth and be clean about it.”

Although he learned a lot as an assistant to Nick Saban and Bowden, the 45-year-old Fisher has plenty of his own ideas.

“The greatest thing I learned from both of them, don’t be like anybody else,” Fisher said. “Be yourself.”

And that he has been. Confidence is not scarce with Fisher on any issue. Things are done his way, period. Ask Fisher’s highly paid assistant coaches. Well, you can’t. They’re off limits to reporters. The same goes for freshmen.

Fisher determines who and when players can talk. Senior quarterback Christian Ponder is Fisher’s anointed spokesman much of the time.

“It’s my third year, I think he realized that I’m comfortable with it,” Ponder said Monday. “It doesn’t really put me on the spot or anything. It’s no big deal.”

Fisher, who made his mark as an offensive coordinator, still calls all the plays.

“I have to control what we do now,” said Fisher, who is in the first year of a five-year deal with the school.

Fisher loves all sports, but football consumes him.

Jim Smith, the former chairman of the university’s board of trustees, recalled a hunting trip he took with the new coach.

“We didn’t talk about the weather, we listened, about football,” Smith said. “He doesn’t take a breath, he’s 110 percent football. I think we’ve got some real great days coming.”

Fisher’s enthusiasm, combined with a Gatling gun speech pattern, can be disarming if not amusing.

Fisher also doesn’t hold back in his praise of the players he favors, especially those who play his old position of quarterback. He’ll hint about the mistakes players at other positions commit.

Comparing him to the folksy and charismatic Bowden wouldn’t be fair _ and Fisher just wants to be measured by his own standards.

“Greatness is consistency and performance over a long period of time,” Fisher said. “I’ll do what I believe is right for this time.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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