Analyzing how FSU football plummeted from perch atop college football mountaintop
{{ timeAgo('2020-09-30 19:44:27 -0500') }} football Edit

Analysis: How the FSU football program fell so far so fast

It was a four-year run of dominance seldom seen in college football.

From October 2011 through October 2015, the Florida State Seminoles ran roughshod over the ACC and practically every other opponent in their way. During that four-year stretch, they posted an incredible record of 52-4, won the school's third national championship and at one point reeled off an ACC-record 29 straight victories.

What FSU fans didn't know at the time was that cracks were already beginning to spread in the program's foundation.

The attention to detail, which had been a hallmark of then-head coach Jimbo Fisher's early years, was starting to slip. Recruiting was beginning to dip as well. And a sense of entitlement and complacency was permeating the program.

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Jimbo Fisher (clockwise, from top left), Stan Wilcox, John Thrasher, Willie Taggart and Mike Norvell.
Jimbo Fisher (clockwise, from top left), Stan Wilcox, John Thrasher, Willie Taggart and Mike Norvell.

Five years later, here we are.

Fisher's initial replacement has been hired and fired, and the replacement’s replacement is off to a humbling start. First-year head coach Mike Norvell is 0-2 with a home loss to Georgia Tech, which was picked to finish last in the ACC, and a 52-10 thrashing from arch rival Miami.

After dominating the Hurricanes and fellow in-state rival Florida from 2010 through 2017, posting a combined 14-2 record in those games, FSU has now lost four straight to UM and two straight to the Gators. The two losses to UF were by a combined margin of 50 points, and the last two to Miami were by a total of 59 points.

How did the Seminoles fall so far so fast?

As one might expect, it was a confluence of events that took place during the course of several years.

Over the next two days, we will take a closer look at how the FSU football program got here, and what Mike Norvell's coaching staff will have to do to help the 'Noles reclaim their winning ways.

Today: How FSU fell so far so fast

Coming Thursday: What Norvell and company can do to right the ship

The beginning of the end -- Fisher losing his focus

There are a number of theories for why Jimbo Fisher lost his focus after Florida State won the 2013 national championship.

Complacency. Discord with the FSU administration. Concerns about ACC finances. Family health and marital issues. Perhaps a combination of all those and more.

But even while the Seminoles were still racking up victories during the 2014, '15 and '16 seasons, issues were festering underneath the surface.

When high-quality coaches left the staff, they were replaced with assistants who either weren't as effective on the field or in recruiting -- or both.

Player accountability slipped on the field, in the classroom and in the strength and conditioning program, and a wave of entitlement swept through the program. Fisher's inability to motivate players was evident in scenes from Showtime's "A Season With" in 2016.

Fisher flirted heavily with LSU after the 2015 and '16 seasons, and there is every indication he was ready to leave both times if the Tigers' administration could have closed the deal. Those dailiances led to a feeling that Fisher had one foot out the door and ultimately led to his pursuit of the Texas A&M job while still coaching at FSU.


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