Chat with David Hale
Welcome to NoleNation! On Tuesday, reporter David Hale stops by to chat about the state of Florida State football.
Hale joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering the Philadelphia Phillies for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and the University of Georgia for The Macon Telegraph. Hale has written about college and professional sports since 2004 and currently lives in Tallahassee, Fla.
Send your questions now and join Hale Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
David Hale (11:02 AM)
Hey there ladies & gents. I've got a great game plan for this chat, but let's hope the execution is as good... It's all about execution. Let's get to the questions.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the Worst Florida State Football team ever?
David Hale (11:06 AM)
Well, I think the 1973 squad is the default answer. They were 0-11 and lost to Florida 49-0. So that's pretty bad. But since we need to promote as much knee-jerk reactionary responses as possible, I'll say this year's team is second because they lost a game.
I continue to shake my head when it comes to FSU football. I got accepted to FSU in 2005 and graduated in 2009. Those first couple seasons were rough! Bobby will always be a great coach, but the second I got to Tallahassee I was screaming to fire him. National Championships is what brings programs money...Period. Jimbo Fisher has made improvements to the Seminoles Football running game for example. My concern is that as Nole fans every year we look at the up coming schedule and overlook (NC State, Wake forest, and even BC) these are teams that have had strong success in upsetting us over the past 5 years. What do you think the Noles need achieve to in order to save the 2012 season? ACC CHAMPIONSHIP? FINISH TOP 5?
David Hale (11:09 AM)
Bottom line for FSU right now is they have to win out or this season is looked at as a disappointment. The reason I say this is because there are only two possible ways they can lose before the bowl game: a.) get upset by another mediocre team or b.) lose to Florida. Either option is going to get fans VERY angry. Perhaps Saturday was a wake-up call... but the frustrating part is that for the past three months, Jimbo has been raving about how prepared and focused his team is. So if that was the case... what happened?
Looks like everyone jumped off the band waggon real quick. Lol
David Hale (11:10 AM)
Sure, but man... so much more leg room on the bandwagon now. Can really spread out.
Ched (Panama Beach, FL)
Jimbo looks like he might lose the team/offense. He's always yelling at EJ when he comes to the sidelines even after a touchdown pass. I just read that he says the loss was due to poor execution. Could his desire for "perfection" lead to the team playing too tight, and also cloud his trust EJ?
David Hale (11:11 AM)
Well, I will say that there was a clear distinction between what Jimbo said in yesterday's press conference and what EJ said. But I'm not sure that means there's a problem between them so much as it means they weren't both "on message" with the media. Jimbo has been EJ's biggest cheerleader, but I also think it says something that he didn't put that game in EJ's hands in the latter half of the fourth quarter.
Mike (Saratoga NY)
I was a bit shocked yesterday watching Fisher's press conference! To go back and say it was bad execution was not what I was expecting from him. Do you think he learned anything from that game?
David Hale (11:13 AM)
I tend to take some of those press conference answers with a grain of salt. I think it's probably not the best PR move by Jimbo, because it's simply not what fans wanted to hear. BUT... I think Jimbo, like Saban, uses the media to get whatever message he wants out there. He's not overly interested in telling us the real story. So does he really think he made no bad calls? I doubt it. But for whatever reason, that's the message he wants out there. I'm just not sure he did himself any favors with the fan base by saying it.
Does any one else think like I do that shiny, mirrored finish helmets such as Oregon and ND are wearing should be banned?? They are a distraction to the opposing team and can cause a reflection from the sun or night lighting that can temporarily blind a player. Besides that the whole game of CFB is taking on a Las Vegas club like atmosphere, because of the colorful, irredescent unis and shoes. Wayne Newton would look drab beside today's garbed out Oregon Duck. I find this trend to be not to my liking. What will they think of next??........ LED lighting ......... or sequins maybe?
David Hale (11:14 AM)
Some team definitely needs to put the Knight Rider swoosh light on the front of helmets. I would be all for that.
Do you think fisher played too conservative in the 4th quarter? I think he kind of just wanted to escape the game and probably would have if for 2 plays. Sack of EJ out of field goal range and the blocked punt.
David Hale (11:15 AM)
Agreed. I think a big part of it was Jimbo did what he says he doesn't want his team to do: He overlooked NC State. He assumed he could play not to lose rather than trying to stick the dagger in NC State's heart. I think he knows it was a mistake, too.
David Hale (11:16 AM)
But here's the larger question, Mike: Yes, change one or two plays and FSU could've easily won. BUT... Why do so many games when FSU is a heavy favorite against mediocre talent come down to one or two plays? If the Noles are really national-title level talent, these should be blowouts. If it happens once a year... sure. But so routinely? It's a problem.
Some coaches are better coordinators than head coaches...
David Hale (11:17 AM)
I'm not sure Jimbo is a bad head coach or a bad coordinator, but MOST coaches agree that it's tough to be both.
Heath (Newport News Va)
David, Why is it so hard for JF to turn the offensive duties over to his OC? Isnt his job to manage the game and coach his qb and the offense? In my opinion I dont really think he trusts EJ or the offense that much. To me it seems like EJ still doesnt know what to do as a 5th year senior. Its his last year, turn him loose and he might surprise us all.
David Hale (11:19 AM)
I don't think it's that EJ doesn't know what to do. He's a smart kid, and he knows the system. But you can take very smart, talented people and put them under pressure and things change. His decision making and execution in those moments was not great Saturday, and I'm sure there are other examples, too. Having said that, I think much of Jimbo's concerns about not putting the game in EJ's hands was more a concern about trusting his O line to allow EJ to make a play.
David Hale (11:20 AM)
And to answer the part about OC duties... for a lot of former OCs-turned-coaches, it's a matter of trusting the guy you're handing play calling over to. Jimbo, like Saban, is a micro-manager. There are times when that works and times when you need to be comfortable delegating. That's a tough transition for a lot of coaches.
Jimbo reminds me of Mack Brown. Can recruit like no one's business - always has top-5 class. But when it comes to game coaching, leave something to be desired.
David Hale (11:22 AM)
Perhaps... but Mack Brown also has a national title under his belt. A lot has to go right -- a lot beyond a coach's control -- to win championships. But I think watching that NC State game, it's understandable why fans are frustrated.
Tommy (Wilmington, DE)
As he is highly regarded as the top FB in the nation, where do you see Lonnie Pryor projected to go in the 2013 draft?
David Hale (11:23 AM)
I was actually just discussing this with someone the other day. I think he'll get drafted -- his versatility, personality and work ethic make him valuable. But fullbacks don't ever go too early in the draft. He'll be a final day guy, probably 6th or 7th round, I would guess.
Is this a 1 year window for Jimbo? I know he recruits alot of talent, but you gotta expect a lot of players to jump ship after season, right?
David Hale (11:25 AM)
To be clear: There's no chance Jimbo is fired after the season, regardless of what happens. (OK, maybe if they lose out... but realistically, no.) BUT... it does sort of start the clock for next year, and life gets a lot tougher next year. He's most likely going to lose as many as 12 starters from this year's team and potentially a couple of top assistants. This was a window of opportunity to win big -- and while that's still possible, the biggest prize is gone.
David Hale (11:26 AM)
And again, I don't think most fans are angry that FSU lost a game or won't win a national title. An undefeated season and Nat Champ was a longshot anyway. BUT... it's the way they lost and who they lost to that has fans upset, and reasonably so, in my opinion.
Mike (Saratoga )
Going back to the press conference. Do you think the team would turn on him for statements like that?
David Hale (11:27 AM)
Jimbo's a smart guy, and I think he knows how to gauge the mood of his team better than the mood of the fans. His presser was bad PR, in my opinion, but it also sends a message to the team. It's a message that could get some guys angry -- but that also might be just what Jimbo wanted.
So what is your bowl projection now?
David Hale (11:29 AM)
Hasn't changed... I still see FSU in the Orange Bowl, only because of the lack of any real competition. Clemson is going to lose another game eventually. That defense is just too soft. FSU may lose to Florida, but that won't affect their status in the ACC. My guess is FSU finishes 11-2 and plays in the Orange Bowl where they'll likely get a bad Big East team and win that one, too. All in all, it won't be a bad year... it just won't be a special year, as so many fans had hoped.
Yesterday on Finebaum's radio show, one of the analysts said that FSU has to stop thinking about the Big 12 and dominate the ACC. Is that fair?
David Hale (11:32 AM)
Yes and no. I think the latter half is true. Look at those 1990s FSU teams and they were unstoppable in conference. And if anything, the ACC has gotten worse since then. This is a league FSU has the talent and resources to win every year, and that should be the goal. Having said that, I don't think anyone that matters -- i.e. Jimbo or the players or the coaches -- are thinking about the Big 12. If focus was lacking, it's not because they were worried about conference affiliation.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Does Florida State need to run the table and make it to a BCS bowl in order to quiet Fisher's detractors after the debacle in Raleigh? Is he on the hot seat if the Seminoles don't make it to a big bowl?
David Hale (11:35 AM)
Well, in the ACC, it's entirely possible FSU could finish with two conference losses and still win the league. BUT... let's say they lose to Va Tech on the road (a possibility, though not likely) and Florida. They're 6-2 in conference, 9-3 overall. If the second loss knocks them out of ACC title game and they end up in a second tier bowl with 3 losses (including one to Florida) and no conference title... yeah, Jimbo's seat gets pretty hot. Not enough to be fired, but enough that next year's storylines will be dominated by his job status.
Tommy (Wilmington, DE)
Do you think the weak schedule early on hurt the squad in the long run? Obviously the Clemson game is an exception, but do you think steam-rolling over everyone else up until the Clemson game made the team soft for USF and NC State?
David Hale (11:36 AM)
Yes, I do think this came into play. I think the Clemson game was actually terrible for them, too, in some respects. What we know now is that the Clemson D is awful. But FSU -- and fans and, well, me -- allowed it to be a bigger deal than it was that the Noles offense looked so good in that game. The truth of the matter is, we didn't know a whole lot about this team at all because of the schedule, and last week's game was probably the most telling.
David Hale (11:37 AM)
And it's funny you ask that question because I keep hearing fans ask if a national title is still possible. That's not the question they should be asking though. The real question is: Is this a national-title caliber team? I think Saturday tells us it's not.
Geoff Blackman (New Port Richey, FL)
I can not understand why did jimbo changed the game plain that was working all season. By that I am refering to James Wilder Jr only getting one touch. The first five games Thompson would set up the D with speed in the first half and then Wilder hit them up the gut in the second that really bothers me the most in this lost.
David Hale (11:39 AM)
I agree completely Geoff. I will say though that Wilder's had a couple short-yardage carries the last two weeks that he did nothing with. That may have gotten him into Jimbo's dog house, and that's why he didn't play. But to me, that's short sighted. You have to give the kid a couple of touches late.
my concern is that Jimbo does not seemed as disappointed as we are. we truly believed and i still do that we have the talent and team to compete for the NC this year. every game should be played as if it were do or die. he just seems like, oh well, we didnt execute. almost like he was trying to prove a point by calling only a certain # of plays. am i way off here?
David Hale (11:41 AM)
It's easy to read into things, and you may be right to an extent. But I think there's probably not anyone more disappointed by the loss than Jimbo. He just hasn't chosen a particularly eloquent way of expressing it to fans. On one hand, I think he doesn't want to convey to his team that this is something it needs to be distraught over... that only leads to more losses. But on the other hand, the whole "how many teams here have gone undefeated" speech was a really bad thing to say to disappointed fans. It just sounded ignorant.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Is Clint Trickett the heir apparent to EJ Manuel at QB? Or will Jamesis Winston challenge for the starting positon in 2013-14?
David Hale (11:43 AM)
Way too soon to say with any certainty who'll get the job next year. Right now, Trickett would be first in line based on knowledge and experience. But if you rank them by talent, it's probably 1.) Winston, 2.) Coker, 3.) Trickett. So it's tough to say anything before we get a look at them this spring.
It seems the national perception is that the ACC is weaker this year than even it usually is. Do you think this is the case?
David Hale (11:44 AM)
Yes. I think FSU and Clemson are good but flawed. After that... yikes. I'd say Miami, North Carolina and NC State are bowl teams, in the 7-8 win range. The fact that Duke is realistically the 5th best team in the conference should tell you all you need to know.
Mark (Miami, FL)
Do you think Seminoles consider EJ Manuel as a disappointment and underacheiver at this point in his career similar to how Sooner fans lament Landry Jones in Norman? Even though Jones at this point does have the conference title that has eluded Manuel.
David Hale (11:46 AM)
When you say Seminoles, do you mean players, coaches or fans? I think the fans would probably agree that is an apt comparison. I think EJ is a good quarterback, a smart kid and a solid teammate. But it certainly seems like he lacks that incalculable "it" quality that separates the truly great ones. As a fan, you just want to see a guy put his team on his back and not allow a game like Saturday to happen.
How closely tied are the Big 3 Florida schools? Does UF's sudden surge stir a lot of emotion at FSU and in the sports community?
David Hale (11:48 AM)
Yeah, I think so. For the past two years, there's been disappointment with the finishes at FSU, but that could at least be overlooked a tad because they were 6-0 in games against Miami, UF and bowls. Now, it looks like Miami and UF will be the toughest games they have left. If FSU loses either or both of them, the heat gets turned way up around Tallahassee.
Mike (Saratoga NY)
What did you think of Stoops play calling on defense? I wanted to tell him to have Jernigan run backwards 10 yards and start doing jumping jacks. My idea of stopping the crossing patterns. Laughing
David Hale (11:49 AM)
The defense seemed to me to be a bit of a reflection of the offense -- doing enough not to lose but not going outside the box to try to win. I can't pin the loss on the D, which was largely effective. BUT... the lack of pressure on Glennon was inexcusable, and the LBs inability to clog up the middle of the field and prevent those crossing patterns was a huge concern.
What is your take on the Miami Hurricanes this year? They seem to be all over the place from game to game.
David Hale (11:50 AM)
Not sure if they're really all over the place. They get creamed out of conference and look decent in conference. That tells me the ACC is bad and Miami is average, which I think is a pretty fair analysis.
In your opinion why do so many of these games come down to the wire. Honestly, NC State is terrible. FSU should have won going away. But this pattern repeats itself under Jimbo. Why do you think this continues?
David Hale (11:51 AM)
Good question, and I asked Jimbo flat out yesterday. His answer was vague and not particularly helpful. He essentially said it comes down to focus, and focus will always be a problem with 85 kids on a roster. But to me, that answer simply means this pattern will continue, which is a bad answer.
Jimbo doesn't have that killer instinct. Get's ahead and takes his foot off the gas. The team takes on the personality of the coach.
David Hale (11:52 AM)
Agreed on the latter point. Jimbo can't tell his team never to overlook an opponent when he clearly wasn't taking NC State as seriously as he should've in the second half of that game.
Will James Wilder be moved to linebacker? It seems it is his destiny.
David Hale (11:52 AM)
Highly doubt it. He's shown enough this year to get more opportunities, and there's no chance they're going to switch him with only a year left. So if he's still at RB by the end of this season (which I think he will be) then it's probably a done deal for the rest of his career. Now... at the NFL level? That's another story.
What's the attitude on the team right now? Are they angry to where they want to destroy the next 6 opponents or are they deflated?
David Hale (11:53 AM)
From the handful of guys I talked to, I think there's some real anger. Whether that anger is going to be directed in the right places remains to be seen. Terrence Brooks gave a good answer yesterday though: "You don't want that feeling. Everybody's pissed off. But we were ready to get back to practice, get back to the grind and take it out on the next team."
Monty (Fairfax, VA)
I haven't seen a head coach with such a stunned look on the sidelines in a long time, almost as if he just realized what happened.
David Hale (11:54 AM)
That's really the chasm between fans and Jimbo, I think. He was stunned at the outcome. Most fans could sense what was happening long before the game was over.
Who has been the most disappointing ACC teams ya think? Georgia Tech and Va Tech have been ugly.
David Hale (11:55 AM)
VT is by far the biggest disappointment, only because more was expected. GT is not good either though. Firing Groh was a first step, but it's going to take a miracle worker to do much with that defense.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Any updates of Brandon Jenkins and his status for next season?
David Hale (11:56 AM)
Essentially a holding pattern for right now until he can get to a point in his rehab where he's more mobile and can put more weight on the foot. That's probably a couple more weeks away. It'll probably be December before he'll know enough to make a good call on what comes next.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Would sweeping the state of Florida ensure another huge recruiting year in 2013 and 2014 and buy Fisher some time if things go south this year or next?
David Hale (11:57 AM)
It would certainly help with the fans. Not sure it means much to recruits, who care way more about whether they'll have a chance to play and contribute than what the team's record was before they got there.
Stunned look?? What kind of a look was that at the end of the UVA game last season.
David Hale (11:57 AM)
Big Bushel (ATL)
Are there plans to boost the OOC schedule in future years? Its not just about W's, but also getting better/tougher against better teams.
David Hale (11:58 AM)
The ACC's decision to retain the 8-game conference slate really helps. That leaves the door open to scheduling some decent home-and-homes. But the other thing to remember is, with the new playoff format, scheduling means less because the top 4 teams get in. Go undefeated against even a pretty lackluster schedule and you're virtually guaranteed to finish in the top 4.
This will sound like I'm whining, but does anyone in the program ever mention the holding that happens to our DL? Holy cow, the best tacklers in the game were the NC ST. OL.
David Hale (11:59 AM)
It's a fair point. That shouldn't have determined the outcome of the game because FSU should have won going away... but there's a lot of flagrant holds that aren't called.
I am just shocked at how back the ACC is this year. But regardless who you got in the ACC champ game?
David Hale (12:01 PM)
I'll say FSU-Miami, which would actually be something of a boon for the league. Duke is better than normal Duke teams, but still not great. UNC is OK, but I'd still take Miami over the Heels. In the Atlantic, FSU is the best of the one-loss teams.
David Hale (12:02 PM)
OK folks, that's all the time I've got. Thanks for the questions and we'll do this again next week.