TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Thanks, everyone. Really pleased to be here at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and at ESPNZone. Obviously the 125 teams in the FBS when they begin the season, this is what they covet, the crystal football, and we're down to the final two, one against two, Florida State against Auburn. We begin with the man of the hour, who's led the Seminoles to a 13 0 record here in record setting fashion in so many ways. Let's bring him out, Jimbo Fisher.
I know there were some travel issues getting out here. You're basically straight off the plane but looking nonetheless no worse for the wear.
JIMBO FISHER: We're very excited to be here. We're very excited to represent Florida State University and the ACC. This is what you play for, this is what you prepare for, and when you start those meetings all the way back -- we don't even talk about it at all, we talk about last January when this team was first formed, like I always talk about, a team has a one year identity, a one year life span, and that is the ultimate goal, what you want to get to. We're very proud to be here, very excited to be here like I say representing Florida State and the ACC and looking forward to a great game against great opponent with Auburn and hopefully we'll play well and represent ourselves very well.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): No one knows what the shape of the game will be, but let's start with something that you guys really haven't faced much of, and that's been a close game. You've won every game by 14 or more. If you're able to get that result here it would be just the third team to ever do that. Give us an idea of what you think you might find yourselves, if it's a close game late.
JIMBO FISHER: It doesn't matter to us because we don't look at the scoreboard. We don't care what the score is, and we play every game like that. We were behind in the Boston College game 17 3 in the second quarter, played very well. Miami game was 21 14 at half. We had a big play, we had 14 14 when we scored before the half. But as crazy as it sounds, we don't care what the score is, we're about playing every play one play at a time, putting our head down. We don't look at the scoreboard, give effort on every play, and at the end we look at the results, and we don't become a result oriented team, so we don't know if it's close or far away. We just want to play well. If we continue to play well, sometimes they're not close.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Coaches in this game always find themselves always trying to rework the schedule, plot out the number of practices, how to build that schedule. How has the team practiced and what sort of challenge have you felt in building out that grid?
JIMBO FISHER: I was very pleased. I thought our first five practices before we went to Christmas break were excellent. Our guys really got after it. They came back and I thought we did a great job of really responding by that second day I thought we were right back in form. I think our guys are very focused and this team has been this way. The thing about this team that I will always remember is how unselfish they were and how they were willing to prepare. They just didn't like playing the games, they liked everything about it and they liked practicing. This team has always done that, and I felt the same in our bowl preparation.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): We had a chance when we met before Christmas to talk about it. Not many people know this, I find this fascinating about the way you manage your time and review the decisions that you've made. You write notes when you encounter situations and you feel as though the decision has prompted a favorable outcome you'll write a note and it goes in one place, if it was an outcome that you believe could have come out better it goes to another spot. Which pile is bigger.
JIMBO FISHER: Well, right now the ones that went right. I don't say it's not because of our wisdom. I think it's because of our players and our assistant coaches. They have done a great job of preparing this team. We've made good decisions. People say why do you do that? Well, everybody says when you make a mistake, you'll remember it and be able to correct it. But the thing that we don't in our society, we don't remember why we have success because being able to -- you want to be an undefeated team, you want to be in these games, you have to repeat success. And to repeat it, you have to remind yourself about what you do and how you go about your business, so I always want to put those reminders there so we not only know how to correct mistakes but we also know how to repeat great performance.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): I want to bring out a couple of the outstanding playmakers for the Seminoles, one on offense and one on defense, Lamarcus Joyner, outstanding defensive back, and Rashad Greene, another sensational pair of hands and outstanding young man in the wide receiving corps.
I want to start out, Lamarcus, with you. We've had a chance to chat over the course of the season, and I know what this senior leadership and this senior class has been through in terms of the time they've spent on this campus and what this group means to you. What role have the seniors played in authoring a perfect season, and if you could identify it, what's been the key message from the seniors?
LAMARCUS JOYNER: One team, one heartbeat. We started that way back in January, and we kind of adopt the attitude and the character of Coach Fisher, and we want to thank him for being a wonderful leader. We kind of adapt to his character and we're able to do great things from that because we know all the pressure's on coach and we do whatever we do to support him and this team, and the leadership has been doing a pretty good job of that.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Rashad, 22 career touchdowns, nearly 1,000 yards, 981 yards receiving this season: Jameis Winston, throwing a ball, give us an idea, this is a guy that throws 97 miles an hour off a pitcher's mound in baseball, but describe his touch and his feel as you break a route.
RASHAD GREENE: Jameis' balls are very precise, first of all. He reads your body language when you're in and out of your cuts so the ball is pretty much out of his hands before you even come to your break, and that gives you enough time to run your route right, and once you get your head around the ball, it's there, and that's perfect for tight coverages and things like that.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Rashad, this is an offense which is 28 points away from setting the all time record in the history of the FBS in college football, Division I. Why have you been able to score so quickly and so prolifically?
RASHAD GREENE: Because the way we practice. It has a lot to do with it, the way we start fast at practice, and that turns over into the game, and once we get in the game and we get going, we're able to execute, it just keeps going and going and going and doesn't stop.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Lamarcus, I know you've heard over and over, despite being the No. 1 defensive recruit in the nation out of high school, about your size. You lead the Seminoles in sacks, third in the team in tackles. How does a guy at your size make so much happen on the field?
LAMARCUS JOYNER: It goes back to attitude. That's what we believe around at Florida State and what Coach Fisher says. I may not be the biggest but I may have the biggest heart in the United States of America. That's all that matters.
Football is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physicality, and I do the best I can with my mental aspects of the game.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): We have seen Auburn run the ball with great effectiveness against some great defenses. Watching their game plan, watching tape, what do you see?
LAMARCUS JOYNER: The same thing, nothing but respect for those guys. Pretty physical football game, football team, and they stay consistent for 60 minutes, and that's what coach Fisher says about consistency. It's all about bend, don't break. Those guys don't break. Those guys do what they do and they do it well, and on the other hand we do what we do well, so it's going to be a great football game.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Coach Fisher, when you watch the way they scheme to rush the football and as prolific as they've been, what concerns you the most?
JIMBO FISHER: I think that their versatility in going outside and inside, and then they also have the quarterback when you add the speed sweeps and you have to set edges on the defense so they can't out flank you, but at the same time, you can't worry about too much outside when you set at the edges because you become weak inside and then they have the quarterback who will do the runs and then the play actions back off of it. They create outside runs, inside runs, and then the quarterback can run with the running game, and it's very three dimensional, it causes a lot of problems and also they block very well up front, and then their receivers block very well. I think that's an underlying thing that we don't talk about enough. Their receivers do a great job blocking downfield, as well.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Rashad, we've all said the 109 yard touchdown return, we've seen in the Georgia game the deflection and the remarkable catch that led to a touchdown for Auburn. What role does luck play in a season?
RASHAD GREENE: I don't believe it's luck. I feel like you control your own destiny the way you prepare and you go about your business, so I don't feel like luck is a part of the game. It's how you go about yourself and take care of your business and preparing.
These were the guys you sent to ACC Kickoff at the beginning of the season. Talk about why you identified them back then as the guys you wanted to represent the season?
JIMBO FISHER: We have so many players, but we considered guys, the great, great players, the guys that affect the guys on the team in a positive way every day. I mean, as an athlete, as I say, Stevie Wonder could have recruited them. You knew when you watched film of them, the way they play. It's their attitude, their work ethic and their unselfishness and the way they affect everybody on our team in a positive way every day, on the field, off the field, whether it's good, whether it's bad. They are the leaders and the guys who truly affect and get the true respect of our team. There are a few others I would like to bring, but these two guys consistently on a day in, day out basis, they represent what they want -- when you think of a Florida State football player, that's what they want you to think of, these two guys right here.
Jimbo, it's been a long time since you've coached at Auburn. It's more than 20 years, I guess. Just talk about Auburn meant to you then, and do you ever think back on those times with Couch Bowden?
JIMBO FISHER: I definitely do. It's kind of ironic that I cut my teeth at Auburn in true Division I football. The first year we go undefeated, that '93 team that came in and went undefeated wire to wire and played some great games that year. But just learning how to coach in Division I, learning how to recruit, learning how to coach. As I say, as I look back at it now, I didn't even know I didn't know. I was just going about it, just full force, kind of like I was a freshman like these guys, I was a Division I AA coach, we had great success at Samford. But when you went Division I at that level in the SEC, Division I football is a different deal. We all just put our nose down and worked, and it's amazing the success we had, great times, great friends, and as I say, it's where I really cut my teeth and learned how to coach and learned how to recruit, and in that state of Alabama, you'd better know how to recruit and know how to handle your business, because it is a great football state and I have nothing but great aspirations for those times and great memories.
Coach, you made a little news before you even got on the plane. The school announced that you signed a new contract.
JIMBO FISHER: Yes.
I was wondering about the timing of that, why now, and what's your feelings on getting that taken care of?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, it was because I didn't get the contract until Saturday. I mean, we had agreed upon terms long ago during the season, but when lawyers get involved you know how things can take a little while. It wasn't anything bad. It was just a matter of dotting I's, crossing T's and getting -- and we practiced all the way up until we got here, coming on the trip, and I was leaving at 6:30 in the morning, I was getting home at 11:30, I wasn't thinking about anything. We got the contract, so today was the first time I had a chance to sign it and I gave it to Stan and very happy and that's what we agreed upon during the season, toward the end of the season, and very proud of that and very happy to be at Florida State.
When you reflect on that '93 season at Auburn, when you look at this Auburn team now the way they've played wire to wire close games, any reflections on that and maybe what Auburn went through this season playing these close games to pull them out?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, I think to get here you're going to have to win close games and do things -- back then in '93, we had some close games. It was a very -- we went undefeated that season. As a matter of fact we were the only undefeated team in the country that year, 1993, it was quite an amazing year. But there were some amazing stories on that team, too. But the Auburn team then probably reminds me more of our team now here at Florida State. As a matter of fact, I don't know as much about that Auburn team there, but that Auburn team in '93 had some great players, ended up being long time NFL players just like I think there will be a lot of those guys on our football team at Florida State. It was a team back then that had a mission and had an attitude. Our word back then was attitude and then we believe how we set the parameters of what you did. That team reminds me more of this Florida State team than of any team I've been around.
Lamarcus, could you just talk about what this day has been like? I know it's been a long one. Has it sunk in with Disneyland behind you and the crystal ball, that you're here playing for a National Championship?
LAMARCUS JOYNER: This day has been long, but I've been enjoying it with my brothers, people that I fight with, go to war with. So it's always a good time, good environment, good atmosphere that we have, the brotherhood around that. It's starting to sink in by the minute that we are here. We talked about it in January, and we believed in the power of preparation and letting the chips fall where they may, and we're here. It's no better feeling.
Rashad, could you talk about having a high school teammate come this far together, and for you two guys to be here? It's kind of surreal I would think.
RASHAD GREENE: It's great being able to play high school basketball with this kid and come to college and continue to play. But at the same time once I knew I was coming here, I knew I was going to get better every day facing him in practice, the same way I did in high school. He's such a great friend on and off the field, and I love him to death.
LAMARCUS JOYNER: I remember being in the summer at St. Thomas, I'm getting ready for college, this guy is getting me ready, and we're going best out of ten. This guy beat me best out of 100. To see that continue throughout the years and to have something, a special bond continue to grow as we mature as young men, that's great. He's like my brother. I just cherish these moments with Rashad.
Jimbo, about that contract, how satisfying is it for them to show that commitment to you, and what does it say about your commitment to Florida State?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, it does. Like I say, I'm very happy to be there, they're very happy to have me. Hopefully that relationship will go on for a long time. We had a great year. I love working there, love being there, and very comfortable there.
I'm pretty sure you can talk about this, Dalvin Cook just announced that he chose you guys, chose Florida State, and he signed his agreement, so can you talk about what kind of player you're getting in him?
JIMBO FISHER: I mean, we're blessed. I think he's one of the special guys, I really do. I think he's one of the special guys in this country. Some guys move the chains, other guys change numbers on the scoreboard. I think he's a guy that changes numbers on the scoreboard. Not only that, he understands how to win, he understands, just like this guys, he comes from a tremendous program, understands how to prepare, understands everything that goes with being a champion. They had a tremendous program at Miami Central and just an outstanding player. We're very blessed to have him. I think it will have an effect on a lot of other guys and I think he'll be one of those guys hopefully one day sitting up here with me in one of these games because I think he has that kind of ability and he's that special of a player. Yes, early enrollee, yes.
Going back to those days at Samford, did you ever envision signing the kind of contract that you just signed? Did you ever envision having the kind of success that you're having right now?
JIMBO FISHER: I couldn't even pay rent. Candi thinks that's why I had to start dating her. She had a job. I was a poor football coach.
No, we laugh about that sometimes. I was a GA and became the quarterback, I was an offensive coordinator and we went to the I AA national semifinals, I AA quarterfinals and I made $15,000 a year. You know what's funny? I was as happy as I ever was. I mean, I'm happy now, but because you coach -- I believe this: You coach because you love doing it, and I always tell folks that want to get in coaching, go live without it and see if you can. If you can't, come back and coach because it's too much of a lifestyle, it's too much of a commitment to you, your family and to these guys. Because I'm going to tell you something, if you're not working at it 16, 18 hours a day, you're cheating these guys because they're putting their futures in your hands. It's too competitive, it's too hard and you truly have to love the game to me to be one of the guys that makes it successful, and that's what I always love, I always loved the game and never envisioned myself out of it. To me, it was funny, those were some of the most happy times in my life back then, even though we were making $15,000 a year, just coaching ball and happy and proud I was trying to be a college football coach.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): This is for Lamarcus and Rashad both: The past few seasons you guys have had one sort of puzzling or baffling misstep or loss. What was different this time?
LAMARCUS JOYNER: The way we prepared. Talent will win you games but I don't believe talent will win you championships. We have a brotherhood, and we really believe in one team, one heartbeat, and we dedicated ourselves into that thought process, and we just believed in what Coach Fisher sold us and everybody bought in, not 5 percent of the guys, 95 percent of the guys, 100 percent everyone put their heart into it. And now we're reaping the benefits, and I wholeheartedly believe that.
RASHAD GREENE: Just based on what Lamarcus was saying, everybody bought in from the summer when the freshmen came in, everybody wanted to be a part of it and knew we could have something special going on. The biggest thing that I realized about this team compared to the other teams, there's not a selfish guy on this team. Our motto is a player doesn't care who makes it, and we're all happy for each other, regardless of who makes plays. When Telvin scores, James, Devonta, I'm as happy as ever just to see those guys have success and we have success as a team. I just think the way everyone bought into each other and just cut out all the selfishness.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): Jimbo, how do you preach team goals and a team game when inevitably certain players receive so much individual attention?
JIMBO FISHER: Well, it was easy, and we are, we are in a time where it's self gratification. It's me, it's me, and that's what we promote on TV, the things that go on. But I think it's a belief, it's a family atmosphere. But like I've told these guys, ever since we started winning all of a sudden we have more individual awards. Ever since we started winning as a team, everybody's getting drafted. Everybody's getting signed. And they see that when the team does well, the individuals stand out and get the awards. We have a motto, we say there's no I in team, but there is an I in win. That I stands for your individual responsibility for you to be great within the team so the team can have success, and when the team has success, it's funny how it comes right back to me and I get my individual awards, I become who I want to be, I go to the NFL or I get a degree, all the things that happen to you, and as I said, the proof is in the pudding about how these individual awards have came as we started really warted winning.
I'm going to tell you something, you recruit character. We talk about talent all the time. Talent will win you games, character will win you championships. I say this all the time: We are as talented a football team as there is in this country, I believe that. But we have better young men on this team than we have players, and I wholeheartedly believe that twice as much.
TOM RINALDI (ESPN): We want to thank our student athletes here, Lamarcus and Rashad. We want to thank Coach Jimbo Fisher, and we want to say this is the first step toward the closing chapter here. January 6 looms in the Rose Bowl. I know you guys have more practices and preparation to get to, but we certainly hope here at Disneyland that you'll enjoy the night.