Clark: Gibbons' candor commendable as he tries to make impact at FSU
There were plenty of things to appreciate during Dillan Gibbons' first interview session with the Florida State media last week.
First and foremost, of course, is the money he's raising for a friend in need. It goes without saying this gesture is awesome, wonderful, charitable and everything else in between. And when Gibbons spoke to us for the first time a week ago, that was the topic most reporters asked about -- with good reason.
But as special and heartwarming as that story is, I thought something else Gibbons spoke about during his 20 minutes of fielding questions was incredibly insightful and interesting as well. And it might end up being more indicative of the type of football player Florida State is getting in the Notre Dame transfer.
At one point during the interview, Gibbons was asked about his time with the Fighting Irish. More specifically, he was asked why he left that program to come to Florida State.
Typically, a player in this position tells reporters he was just looking for a fresh start, a different opportunity. Maybe he'll say it was a "mutual decision" or something along those lines. And heaven knows, we are quite familiar with how transfers talk since it seems like 90 percent of the guys on this FSU team started their college careers somewhere else.
But Gibbons was different. He didn't sugarcoat anything.
"I woke up the day after the spring game at Notre Dame and wondered kind of what was keeping me at Notre Dame for my fifth and potentially sixth year," Gibbons said. "So, I had some meetings and things and didn't necessarily get the answers I wanted out of some coaches about the perspective of my future."
That's smart-person talk for saying the coaches didn't guarantee him a spot on the starting offensive line despite his experience and despite the departure of four starting linemen from a season ago.
It seems clear that Notre Dame's coaches didn't think Gibbons was an automatic option to fill one of those positions.
While that fact isn't necessarily earth-shattering -- Gibbons has started just one game in his college career so far, and Notre Dame has produced some of the best offensive lines in college football -- it's just that Gibbons was so open and honest about it.
That was a bit startling, I have to be honest, and more than a bit refreshing.
As was his reasoning for choosing Florida State.
Yes, he believes in what head coach Mike Norvell is building. And yes, he thinks it's a good fit.
But he also had some pragmatic reasons for choosing the Seminoles. And he didn't gloss over that fact.
"I wanted to be back in the state of Florida," Gibbons said. "And the only school I considered at the end of the day was FSU. Just because, when I was a kid, I was a big fan of FSU. ... And for me, I was also looking for a school where I could get into the MBA program. And a school that would have me for a fifth and a sixth year.
"So, Florida State fit all those criteria."
He also said he appreciated how Norvell spoke about Notre Dame's offensive line after last season's game between the two teams -- a game in which Gibbons got some of his most extensive action of the season.
"Just hearing that from a head coach was something I really didn't experience before," he said. "I actually went ahead and watched it again a few weeks ago ... and it just kind of reassured me that I made the right decision."
I know some of you are reading this and saying to yourself, "I don't care what Norvell said about the opposing team in a postgame press conference. And as long as can he block, I don't really care if Gibbons gets an MBA or a GED or a SCUBA license."
I get it. I do. Because let's be real -- that will be more important than anything else when it comes to how Gibbons' two seasons at Florida State are judged.
But I think we were all a bit surprised by the improvement displayed by FSU's offensive line last year under first-year coach Alex Atkins. Now, the Seminoles have added a veteran transfer who has played with some of the best linemen in the country for the last four years.
A player who has seen up close what it takes to be great. A player who has no problem being honest about his situation with reporters he doesn't even know. And a player who talks like a 50-year-old coach already.
When asked about the FSU offensive line he'll be joining, Gibbons started off his answer with: "See, it's a very interesting dynamic ..."
He did that more than once actually. He started several sentences with, "You see, ...." as if he was a tenured professor giving a lecture on quantum physics (and in case you were wondering if I ever studied that particular subject, please know that I actually just looked up how to spell quantum).
I don't know how good Gibbons is going to be.
I assume he'll start at guard this fall, but who can know for sure?
I do think guys like him -- mature personalities like him and previous grad transfer Devontay Love-Taylor -- do worlds of good for a position group that is still very young and still has so much to prove.
"I think now the offensive line, so far, is in a really good place," Gibbons said. "We have veterans that are leading the room. Guys like me, guys like Devontay Love-Taylor, guys like Brady Scott. I think we're doing a lot better job of taking control of the room and setting the actual standard."
Contact senior writer Corey Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @Corey_Clark on Twitter.