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Monday, November 26, 2012
Updated: November 27, 10:36 AM ET
Fisher sets record straight

By David M. Hale
NoleNation

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It has been seven years since Florida State won a conference title, and Jimbo Fisher made a point to note the historical significance of this week's ACC championship game when he met with the media on Monday.

Gene Chizik
Gene Chizik's firing at Auburn was the subject of several questions asked to Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher.
The two games still remaining on Florida State's schedule -- the ACC title game and a potential Orange Bowl berth -- wormed their way into the talking points during his nearly 40-minute question-and-answer session, but the bulk of the drama revolved around last week's loss to Florida and what might await Fisher once the season ends.

For weeks, rumors have swirled that the Seminoles' coach might be destined for one of the four open SEC coaching positions, and Fisher did his best to quell the rumblings without completely closing the door on the possibility.

"I'm very happy right here. I'm content to be here. It's where I want to be," Fisher said. "We're building something special. We've got great players, and we've got players that want to come to be here. It's a great place to live. My family is set in this community. I'm planning on being here a long time."

The sincerity of Fisher's comments might be tested by the checkbooks at Auburn or Tennessee in the weeks to come, but what has been made increasingly clear is that coaches rarely have the luxury of planning for the long haul. And Fisher's first three years at Florida State haven't come without their share of criticism.

Yes, Florida State can win its first ACC title since 2005, but last week's loss to Florida still stings. In a dismally weak ACC, the Gators had been FSU's one true test. Against teams with winning records this season, FSU is just 2-2. Against ranked opponents, the Seminoles scored 75 points and allowed 74.

Yes, Florida State has won 10 games -- and could add two more -- but it also suffered an embarrassing loss to NC State, a team that now has a coaching vacancy of its own after Tom O'Brien was fired on Sunday. It was the fifth loss to an unranked underdog in Fisher's tenure.

Yes, the Seminoles have entered the last two as national championship contenders, but Fisher's crew has yet to come close to meeting that standard at year's end.

"We're accomplishing a lot of things, and you have to do that," Fisher said. "And we've got to learn to win a couple of those other games and not let that one game slip away. We've got to learn to play a big game better, and we'll continue to do that. It's also a new role for these kids, being the hunted. ... That's all part of building your program."

For whatever criticism has been leveled against Fisher through three years, it's impossible to ignore what he has built.

Fisher's recruiting classes have been stellar, and he confidently spoke of a future without stars like EJ Manuel, Brandon Jenkins and Rodney Smith next season, noting the immense talent waiting in the wings.

Florida State broke ground on a new indoor practice facility just hours before the game against Florida, adding a new toy for a program Fisher aims to keep competitive with free-spending SEC schools.

Fisher touted sterling graduation rates during a brief tangent about off-field issues haunting Auburn's program -- perhaps a hint that it wouldn't be a job he'd have much interest in under any circumstances.

He shrugged off the potential departure of assistant coaches -- denying that defensive coordinator Mark Stoops had interviewed at Kentucky -- suggesting FSU was a place any up-and-coming assistant would want to work.

Even that elusive national championship seems tantalizingly close, Fisher said.

"Sometimes the championship teams that jump on you aren't the ones you expect -- when everything goes right and things bounce right," he said. "There's a lot of things that go into winning a championship."

Certainly things didn't bounce just right for Florida State this season, whether it was Jenkins' season-ending injury in its first game or the turnover-filled disappointment against Florida in its last game.

The question now is whether an ACC title is an adequate consolation prize, and how long the fan base will settle for building blocks rather than a finished product.

A few years ago, that might not have been an issue -- and it certainly wouldn't have seemed likely at Florida State, fresh off a 7-6 season when Fisher took over the reins. But now coaches are fired two years after a national title, and expectations -- even for the rejuvenated Seminoles -- are rarely tempered in favor of reality.

Fisher said his focus in on what remains of 2012. He said he won't discuss potential job offers with his agent until after the season is over. But he also didn't say those discussions would never occur because, if nothing else, even Fisher knows that things can change quickly.

"To say you're never going to move in this business as a coach, you can't say that," Fisher said. "It's inevitable. From reporters, people -- there's too many things that go on. But I'm very happy, I'm very content, I want to be here."