STILLWATER – Four things we know for sure about Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
1. They rarely cross paths in recruiting and have never coached against one another.
2. Fisher is on record saying it is “ridiculous” the Big 12 doesn’t play a conference title game. Gundy has said playing every team in the conference is challenge enough.
3. The majority of their players were picked from different regions (69 players from Texas at OSU, 68 players from Florida at FSU).
4. Both coaches have gushed about their respect for each other’s teams recently.
From Gundy: “I think this is the best team that I’ve competed against as a coach and I can’t even remember as far back as when I was playing, but they’re really good.”
From Fisher: “We’re playing a great Oklahoma State football team. Mike Gundy is a great football coach … they’ve won 41 games in the last four years, it definitely gets your attention.”
So as the much-anticipated Saturday season opener at AT&T Stadium approaches, it might seem like the Cowboys and Seminoles will arrive from different college football planets, despite mutual respect. Two programs separated by geography and some football philosophy.
But Fisher is not a complete stranger to the Big 12. Over the past dozen years, he’s coached against a number of conference giants and basement dwellers as either offensive coordinator or coach with a mixed bag of results.
Here’s a look back at those matchups, starting with Fisher’s first Big-12 encounter.
DEC. 31, 2002 / TEXAS: 35 LSU: 20 (COTTON BOWL) / FISHER’S BIG 12 COACHING RECORD: 0-1
What happened: The Tigers led 17-7 in the second quarter, but Texas responded with 28-straight points to seal the win. UT wide receiver Roy Williams was the big-play spark plug, reaching 142 yards receiving on just four catches.
Fisher’s perspective: This was the final game of Fisher’s third season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for LSU coach Nick Saban. Fisher’s offense fired out of the gate, scoring 10 first-quarter points against a UT defense that allowed opponents a combined 16 in the quarter all season. But Fisher, nor his players, could keep that momentum rolling in the second half.
Quotable: “We left a lot out there.” — Saban
JAN. 4, 2004 / LSU: 21 OU: 14 (NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP) / FISHER’S BIG 12 COACHING RECORD: 1-1
What happened: The Tigers captured their first national championship in more than 40 years by dismantling a Sooner offense that featured Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Jason White. OU averaged just 2.2 yards per play.
Fisher’s perspective: Offense wasn’t the trademark of this title team, but Fisher should get plenty of credit for the championship. His offense was led by a freshman running back, Justin Vincent, who earned MVP honors with 117 yards rushing and a touchdown. About three years after this game, Fisher would leave LSU for the same position at Florida State.
Quotable: “I said to (White), ‘Excuse me, Mr. Heisman. I'm going to be coming at you all night … I think our conference is the hardest and Jason White wasn't anything we hadn't seen before.’” — LSU defensive end Marquise Hill.
SEPT. 16, 2007 / FSU: 16 COLORADO: 6 / FISHER’S BIG 12 COACHING RECORD: 2-1
What happened: The Seminoles traveled to Boulder and narrowly squeezed out a victory against a CU team that won just six games that season. The FSU defense impressed by holding the Buffaloes scoreless until late in the fourth quarter when tight end Tyson Devree hauled in a touchdown catch.
Fisher’s perspective: This was not the offensive outing Fisher, in his first year as FSU’s offensive coordinator, had in mind. The Seminoles settled for field goals three times deep in Buffaloes’ territory and their only touchdown came on long rushing score in the second quarter.
Quotable: "The most ridiculous demonstration of football I've been around in my life. I'm going to tell you what, if I'm an offensive player, I'm embarrassed. Our defense won that football game. It's ridiculous the mistakes we keep making ... It's my fault. It starts with me. If you ain't coaching it, you're letting it happen. We're going to find 11 guys who want to do it. We'll start on Tuesday when we get back, I promise you." — Fisher
SEPT. 27, 2008 / FSU: 39 COLORADO: 21 / FISHER’S BIG 12 COACHING RECORD: 3-1
What happened: FSU easily swept its home-and-home series with CU by cruising past the Buffaloes in round two. It marked Bobby Bowden’s 500th career game as a college head coach. The Seminoles scored 12 points late in the second quarter to get out front and never looked back.
Fisher’s perspective: The anger from Fisher’s previous encounter with CU was certainly a distant memory. FSU totaled a respectable 378 yards of offense against a Buffaloes, who entered the game 3-0. But the larger implications for big nonconference wins like this would follow a few years down the line, as the Fisher , the “coach-in-waiting”, would finally get his chance.
Quotable: “Feel very fortunate to win that football game.” — Bowden
SEPT. 11, 2010 / OU: 47 FSU: 17 / FISHER’S BIG 12 COACHING RECORD: 3-2
What happened: The Seminoles defense struggled as OU rolled out 487 yards on 83 plays. FSU went scoreless the second and third quarters and used two quarterbacks — Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel — in hopes of drumming up some momentum.
Fisher’s perspective: It was the first marquee-nonconference matchup of Fisher’s reign as head coach and it was a tough challenge: on the road against the No. 10-ranked Sooners. Expectations were high, but realistic, as the Seminoles were installing a new defense and played a plethora of young players on both sides of the ball.
Quotable: “There is always going to be work to be done. You've always got to improve the whole season and when you play a caliber opponent like Oklahoma who is very well coached and has good players, you find out. So, I didn't expect them to score that many in the first half, but they got hot and they did it and we just need to move on." — Fisher
SEPT. 18, 2011 / OU: 23 FSU: 13 / FISHER’S BIG 12 COACHING RECORD: 3-3
What happened: All eyes were on Tallahassee for the biggest nonconference matchup of the day for No. 1 OU against No. 5 FSU. The Sooners prevailed for the second-straight year, this time behind the big-play ability of wide receiver Kenny Stills: seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Fisher’s perspective: The then second-year head coach wouldn’t go as far to say it was a moral victory, but it seems Fisher could read the writing on the wall: the future was bright. The Seminoles’ young players would soon develop into the base that would lead FSU to the national title in 2013.
Quotable: "I am disappointed we lost and we had a great opportunity because we had a chance to win that football game. But I am also very encouraged that our kids can compete at the highest level. I truly believe that.” — Fisher