Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher can’t find a book.
He’s found books in the past, ones that inspire and instruct about how to leap the myriad hurdles and win a championship. But he can’t find one now — one that tells him how to hold off the challengers and stay at the pinnacle for at least one more year.
And that’s the goal for his Florida State team this year, following its national championship last season. Anything short of another undefeated, national title-winning year would be a letdown in some sense for the Seminoles. In order to achieve that goal, they’ll need to battle the urge to get complacent. Of course, becoming complacent is something Fisher believes is human nature to do, and it’s something he’s still trying to figure out how to prevent.
“I can’t find many books on it,” Fisher said. “All of them talk about how to get there, but not many of them talk about how to stay there.”
With a lack of literature, Fisher has turned elsewhere for guidance. Namely, he’s turned to Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, John Elway and a host of other elite athletes who can boast multiple championships.
In doing so, Fisher has flipped the fight against complacency on its ear. Instead of obsessing over the pitfalls of Alabama in 2013 or any other team that failed to repeat, he’s challenged the Seminoles to take the next mental step of being a champion.
“We looked at those guys and studied the habits they had. They all had that attitude of domination, which is what we called it,” Fisher said. “That’s what we have to create. If you look at things that failed, that’s great, but I’d rather look at things that have succeeded and why they succeeded.”
It’s that phrase — “attitude of domination” — that has rung throughout Tallahassee, Florida, this offseason and will continue to do so for some time. Acquiring that attitude would be akin to developing the “killer instinct” that is oft-discussed in sports. Fisher doesn’t want the Seminoles to keep the car humming along at the same speed; he wants them to try and reach the next gear.
The best way to do that, Fisher believes, is studying the few athletes throughout history who have been able to reach that level. This summer, the Seminoles have read quotes from Montana, Jordan and Co. They’ve watched Jordan’s Flu Game, the way Bird willed his team to victories despite a bum back and the way Montana commanded his offense during a concussion-plagued career. They’ve spoken with members of those athletes’ entourages. They’ve even heard directly from those athletes — eight-time world champion sprinter Michael Johnson has addressed the team.
“It’s a constant education to me and the kids to try to get them to think in that type of molding and keep pushing. It’s human nature to win and relax,” Fisher said. “It’s not natural human nature to strive. We tell them they have to create those habits. If you want to be special, you have to do something different.”
If Florida State can respond to Fisher and attain that attitude of domination, there’s no limit on what it can accomplish this season. The Seminoles have nine preseason All-ACC picks, which is more than twice as many as the next-best team. They return a Heisman-winning starting quarterback and a troop of NFL first-round picks from a team that blew through the 2013 season en route to a national championship.
But last year’s title doesn’t mean anything come Aug. 30, when Florida State sets out on another championship quest in a season-opening game against Oklahoma State.
“We’re not defending anything. We’re trying to go and get another one,” Fisher said. “We want to create an attitude of domination.”