July 30, 2011

Fisher speaks on issues around college football

Fisher speaks his mind (by Paul Thomas)

Earlier this week at the ACC Kickoff in Pinehurst, North Carolina, ACC commissioner John Swofford gave his opinion on the state of college football.

He echoed many of the same sentiments that SEC commissioner Mike Slive touched on just a few days earlier. Things like multi-year scholarships, raised GPAs, and scholarships covering the full cost of attendance.

"We're at a tipping point. I'm not the first to say that, but we're at a tipping point," Swofford stated on Sunday afternoon. "What do we do? I think what we do is to get back to basic fundamentals of what college athletics are all about, but at the same time adjust, and adjust in a progressive way to the modern world in which we live."

Swofford thinks that by allowing the schools to cover the full cost of attendance with the scholarships (money for travel home and laundry among other things) it will help rid the college football of some of the third party offenses that have tarnished the public perception of the sport in recent months.

"I'm not for paying players per say," he said. "I am for maximizing the grant and aid for a full scholarship. So let's seriously consider the full cost of attendance."

A day later Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher weighed in on Swofford's comments. While almost every other coach in the conference said they were against multi-year scholarships, Fisher declined to comment saying he hadn't given it much thought before.

He did seem to be in favor of allowing scholarships to cover more than they currently do.

"There's some extremely tough situations that occur out there for kids and some of the environments that they come from," he said. "Giving them the max that you can give to them is fully there. Whether it's travel back and forth sometimes they can't get back, there's some home situations for guys that you can't believe until you see."

Fisher also had a very strong opinion on another hot topic in college football right now, Slive's proposal to raise the sport's minimum GPA from 2.0 to 2.5 for athletes to be eligible.

"I think it's extremely unfair with the schedules and what they have to do," Fisher said of raising the required GPA. "It's not that they're not student athletes and not that they're not doing well….these guys are the largest window in which the University is seen. They're on the front line of the University, why are you punishing them?"

Fisher also said that a 2.5 in the SEC is not the same as 2.5 in the ACC.

While he was holding court and not holding anything back with the ACC media, Fisher also gave his opinion on a potential playoff in college football, saying he wasn't a 'playoff guy'.

The second-year head coach said he thinks that a playoff would be more unfair to the fans who could be forced to travel across the country multiple times in three weeks to see the playoff games. He also said that it is unfair since all conferences don't adhere to the same academic regulations.

Fisher is in favor of the current system, because at the end of the year more schools benefit from the extra practices and experience teams get when they travel to bowls.

"We usually get it right 90 something percent of the time in my opinion on who the best team is in the end," he said of the BCS. "It's the only sport in which you can end on a victory and build into the offseason and keep developing your players

Datko back to full strength (by Gene Williams)

It isn't surprising that Andrew Datko was one of four Seminoles selected to the pre-season all-conference team at ACC Media Kickoff.

Last season, the former St. Thomas Aquinas standout posted the Seminoles' second-highest grade among linemen at 87 percent, trailing only Rodney Hudson. He also relinquished just one sack, was penalized just three times and had only five missed assignments in 691 snaps. All of this was accomplished despite having to battle through a nagging shoulder injury for most of the season, and then two banged up shoulders in FSU's final two games.

"When he played last year in the bowl game and the (ACC) championship game he basically had no shoulders. Both shoulders were screwed up," head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He has done that (played through injuries) ever since he's been here... There are a lot of tough guys but not a lot of them can play with pain but he can play with pain and still be productive."

After undergoing shoulder surgery and sitting spring practice during his rehabilitation, the senior offensive tackle has been given a clean bill of health. From all reports, Datko is 100 percent healthy for the first time in years. He's also added muscle to his 6-foot-6 frame and according to Fisher his star lineman is tipping the scales at over 320 pounds.

"He told me the other day that his shoulder feels better than it's ever been, even when he was a freshman," Fisher said. "I am excited about that."

Brandon Jenkins, who ranked third nationally in sacks last season, goes up against Datko on a regular basis in practice and attributes much of his success to his matchups with FSU's left tackle.

"I wouldn't be where I am at today if it wasn't for Datko," Jenkins said. "Datko has put me down a lot of times in practice. He's big, athletic and has quick feet. I think Datko is really one of the best talents in the country, if not the best."

So what will Datko bring to the table now that he is fully recovered from his shoulder injuries?

"He's already showed that he's pretty good and this year he's going to show that he's dominant," Jenkins said.

Renewed focus on Indoor Practice Facility (by Paul Thomas)

During his session with the media, Fisher was asked if there had been any progress made towards the indoor practice facility project.

"Yes I think we're really starting to get a push now," he said. "I don't think we're moving financially, but I think we're emphasizing it a lot more. Hopefully we can get this thing going here pretty quickly."

One of the arguments for not building the facility is the fact that in-state rival Florida doesn't have one either. But in December conference rival Clemson approved the budget for a football-only indoor facility. The Tigers hope to have their facility finished during the 2012-13 academic year.

Other ACC schools such as Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Boston College already have access to multi-sport indoor facilities and two other schools are in the conference are in the process of building facilities as well.

Duke has begun construction on their $10 million facility and is scheduled to be ready for use next fall. In just a matter of weeks, FSU's closet geographic rival in the conference, Georgia Tech will have it's own indoor facility.

The Yellow Jackets could be able to practice inside the John and Mary Brock Football Practice Facility as soon as August. Head coach Paul Johnson said that while the facility will be something different to show recruits, it will have a bigger impact on players currently on camps, because they won't have to adjust their practice schedule or mother nature anymore.

"We don't need it so much for the gold as we do for lighting, heat, you know all those things that you get in Georgia in late summer early fall," Johnson said. "I think it will help us in recruiting, and I think it will help us in a lot of ways."

So while in-state rival Florida has no current plans for an indoor facility, FSU could be falling behind the facilities war in its own conference.

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