Jimbo Fisher should help FSU win another national title next season

Still sleepy from a night of celebration, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher held up the Waterford crystal football trophy presented to the national championship winner Tuesday at the Newport Beach Marriott in Southern California.

Who needs more than a few hours of sleep when you've finally earned this moment?

It's a moment that was the culmination of months of hard work, sacrifices — on and off the field — and poise in the face of distractions during what can only be described as a special season for the Seminoles.

Yet even before the glitter dried on the "Welcome Home National Champs" banner in Tallahassee, Fisher's thoughts shifted to the future.

"It's time for another one," said Fisher.

In order to accomplish the goal, Fisher said everyone involved in the program — from the players to the coaches to the ball boys — must stay hungry and avoid letting complacency overtake them. It's a familiar challenge, one Fisher witnessed first-hand as an assistant coach at LSU after the Tigers won the title in 2003.

His experience dealing with success is the reason I believe Florida State can repeat as champions in 2015.

That's not much of a stretch when you consider the Seminoles return 14 starters from a record-setting squad led by quarterback Jameis Winston. Experience will only benefit Winston, who will start the season with the expectations of the preseason Heisman Trophy favorite and possibly the top pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

Florida State's offensive line returns four starters who account for more than 100 career starts among them while players such as Nick O'Leary, Rashad Greene and Karlos Williams return to bring explosive potential to the offense. Throw in some younger players like Kermit Whitfield and Jesus Wilson and FSU's potential for success expands exponentially.

In fact, Florida State's success next season will be a credit to this past season. Fisher and his staff did a masterful job of integrating youth and talent into the program. A handful of freshmen received starts this season, including Winston, kicker Robert Aguayo and safeties Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews.

Whitfield also made key contributions in the return game. It's safe to say his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the national championship game made him a household name heading into 2014.

The defense returns seven starters, including defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., linebacker Terrance Smith and cornerbacks Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams. With safeties Ramsey and Andrews back, FSU will boast one of the best secondaries in college football.

And you can't talk about Florida State's future without mentioning recruiting. The Seminoles are headed toward another top-five recruiting class in 2014 led by five-star running back Dalvin Cook out of Miami Central High.

Then there is the College Football Playoff set to begin in 2014.

The four-team playoff means there is slightly more room for error. FSU needs to finish among the top four teams in the country rather than the top two to have a shot at winning another title.

The playoff selection committee will be weighing a team's strength of schedule, which should be no problem for Florida State.

The Seminoles' schedule in 2014 features matchups with Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Florida, Miami, Clemson and Louisville.

Fisher's top goal for Florida State extends beyond the flawless 2013-14 season.

"We're not interested in being a great team," Fisher said. "We're interested in being a great program and we want to be around for a long time."


Penn State hires Franklin

It didn't take long for Penn State to fill the void left by Bill O'Brien, who departed for the NFL. The school announced Saturday James Franklin would be the Nittany Lions next head coach. Franklin spent the previous three seasons rebuilding Vanderbilt into a national program while becoming one of the hottest coaching candidates along the way. It was only a matter of time before Franklin took on another challenge. Franklin, 41, brings a high-octane coaching style to Happy Valley and it can't be overlooked that he's the second SEC coach along with Urban Meyer to join the Big Ten.

Lane Kiffin at Alabama

Nick Saban's decision to hire former USC coach Lane Kiffin to replace departing Doug Nussmeier as Alabama's offensive coordinator certainly raised some eyebrows this week. Why would Saban, a notorious perfectionist who controls every last detail of the program, risk hiring a coach like Kiffin? It's like the modern day version of the Odd Couple. Although, if anyone can revitalize Kiffin's coaching career, it's Saban. His assistant coaches are rarely seen or heard throughout the season — Saban's choice — and his attention to detail guarantees he will have a hand in any changes his new OC plans on making. Kiffin, for his part, was once considered an offensive guru while working with Pete Carroll at USC and could inject creativity into the Crimson Tide's offense that ranked No. 33 in the country in yards per game.

Viewers tune in to BCS games

Florida State's victory over Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game last week capped a successful bowl season run for ESPN. The network announced all five BCS bowl games drew an average of 16,549,000 viewers — up nine percent from last season. All five featured close matchups, with each game decided by an average of less than a touchdown. Orlando ranked No. 14 among major markets with a 5.2 rating for all of the bowl games on ESPN this postseason, while West Palm Beach ranked No. 24 with a 4.4 rating. During the regular season, Orlando No. 13 overall with a 2.7 rating for all the network's regular-season televised contests and West Palm Beach ranked No. 16 with a 2.5 rating.

On the Web

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