I've got loads and loads of interviews to go back over, but while everything is still fresh in my head I did just want to get down a few points from media day. I'll have quotes and interviews and stories later on, for now here are a few thoughts...
-Jimbo Fisher spoke for about 25 minutes and the coversation ultimately turned into a referendum on off-the-field problems and marijuana use. I'm going to do a long piece on this sometime in the next couple of weeks so I won't go too overboard now, but Fisher asked that a lot of the media empathize with Greg Reid and kids who make the kinds of mistakes that Reid and also recently Tyrann Mathieu at LSU have made. Much like Leonard Hamilton often tells reporters when a kid is in trouble, "I know you were all perfect at that age, but..." Fisher acknowledges that the socioeconomic backgrounds and the substance abuse histories of kids' families plays a huge role, much larger than we in the media often give credence to. Fisher believes marijuana use is rampant on campuses around the country, but also that the issue is no more grave than alcohol abuse and that the aim should be helping not punishing when it comes to enforcement.
-Fisher also made an interesting point about the state of recruiting, and by extension the game of college football. According to Fisher recruiting defensive linemen, the blue-chip, big-bodied, athletic sort (of which the Seminoles scored four this offseason), are as hotly contested as elite QB's nowadays. Jimbo attributes that to the devaluation of the skill positions, where there is an abundance of great talent to be had. There are a lot fewer elite linemen. And the competition for them is heated.
-Vic Viloria is far more insightful than you would think at first blush. You may have noticed him as the bald coach waving the towel and jumping around the whole game on the sideline. Viloria is a ball of energy in games and at practice, but the strength and conditioning coach is probably also a little ahead of his time in his approach to training. You can tell Viloria loves the intellectual aspects of training and building the human figure. Listening to him discuss how the strength and conditioning program evolved (he corrected me quickly when I asked how he changed it), you just get the sense that Viloria may be more important than any coach outside of Stoops and Fisher (recruiting not considered).
-Mark Stoops is a great interview. I hate to break it to you Seminoles fans (if it wasn't already obvious) but if this season goes off the way Florida State hopes, Stoops will have his own head coaching gig next year. Hurricane fans need no introduction to the Seminole defensive coordinator, he coached some the best Hurricanes of the last decade, and now Stoops has a defense at Florida State that finished in the top five last season and could be even nastier this year. Stoops built that defense, and somebody is going to want to give him the keys to their program if it's as good as advertised this year.
-Bryan Stork thinks it takes the kind of bad year Florida State had up front last season to really help an offensive line gel. If that's true, this group should be pretty tight. Stork says he prefers right tackle but is happy to play wherever he is needed and singles out Josue Matias as the most improved player on the line.
-Dustin Hopkins is always a great interview, he's classy and well-spoken and he has a pretty sharp wit to him also. Of all the players I spoke to about their individual goals for the year, Hopkins was the only one who really told the truth. After a couple years of finishing as a runner-up for the Groza award, the senior kicker admits he really wants that trophy. Hopkins has been one of the nation's top kickers for going on three years now, but consistency over a stretch doesn't win a Groza award, one fantastic year does. Hopkins will need to have that year in 2012 if he wants a Groza.
-Speaking of Hopkins, touching moment out at team pictures as Hopkins stopped to kneel and talk with a tiny little boy holding a football. The boy bore a serious looking scar on the left side of his head, and to be honest he looked a little bit timid as the massive bodies of the Florida State football team thundered out on to the field around him for positonal photographs. But Hopkins knelt beside him and said warmly, "I hear you're here to take my position." And the little boy's face just lit up. Afterwards EJ Manuel, Brandon Jenkins and a host of other players made their way over to meet the little boy and offer him words of encouragement, but nobody seemed to have the same effect as Hopkins. Not every player you meet is as nice or as genuine as we want to believe they all are, Hopkins exceeds your expectations. Great person.
-This defensive line is a fun group. You can tell they genuinely enjoy one another, they're big, they're strong, they're mean and they know they might just be the best group Florida State has seen in decades. People around this program think this line will be good but they're hesitant to expound on just how good. Call that humility or fear of hubris, but nobody at FSU has come right out and said they think they have the best defensive line in the country. Odell Haggins may have tipped his hand a little bit with regards to his true feeling about the Seminole line when he made it a point to ask for a copy of him and his unit during position group shots Sunday afternoon though. A physical photo, a big one, glossy, he said... The type you frame.
Time to start transcribing, I'll have a few more things for you later this afternoon and into the evening. So keep checking back...