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2 posts from November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

Florida's Governor Weighs in On Florida-Florida State, ACC Realignment


I had an opportunity to talk with Governor Rick Scott this afternoon for about five minutes. The Governor will be in attendance at Saturday's Florida-Florida State game to take in the action and help promote the 'Visit Florida' tourism initiative. He was gracious enough to talk to me for a few minutes about this weekend's game earlier today.

"I think it’s going to be a close game," said the Governor. "For Florida State to win they’re going to have to do what they’ve done all season, great defense. I had lunch [on Monday] with Jimbo Fisher and they’re going to have to beat them on offense. But they both have good special teams, so it’ll be a fun game."

Scott isn't about to take sides or pick a winner, as the leader of the state he's not trying to alienate any voters with a Gator chomp or a Tomahawk Chop.

"Are they a Florida football team? I like all of the Florida football teams," joked Governor Scott. "I like both of the teams and they both have a legitimate shot. This is great for Florida, it’s great to have two teams with these records. I’m glad Florida State is going to the ACC championship, I wish Florida was going to the SEC championship, but hopefully FSU is going to win the ACC championship in Charlotte. EJ Manuel has had a great season and Driskel has had a great season over at the Gators. Gilleslee has had a great season as a running back. I like watching the games, I’ve been to a few of them. I don’t think I’ve been to a game as the governor that either of these two teams have lost, so this will be interesting."

Obviously that ends this weekend. In Scott's mind regardless of outcome though, the state wins big time when both programs are ranked highly.

"It’s great for tourism, it’s also a great way to promote our state," said the Governor. "As we know, all of us follow college football so having both Florida and Florida State in the top ten is great just for gaining notoriety for our state. But on top of that having this great game late in the season like this where they’re both 10-1 is also [big]. I think we’re going to see a lot of people here this weekend, I’m looking forward to the game. I know Florida leads the series but I think either one can win this weekend."

I also had a chance to ask Rick Scott about a potential move by Florida State out of the ACC. As a public university in a cash-strapped state, I expected Rick Scott to have a different take but he's supportive of whatever FSU needs to do long-term with its athletic programs.

“I want both Florida and Florida State to have great football programs, so the way I look at it is Florida State needs to do what they can do to make sure they have a successful football program," said Scott. "Both of them need to be in conferences where they can raise the money they need to have great teams. I’d like them both to be undefeated every year until they meet.”

The knee-jerk reaction may be that there are better things to fundraise for (than a massive ACC exit fee), but credit Scott for having the foresight to realize that the price up front may enable a program to be more lucrative in the long run. If the Seminoles want to switch conferences this offseason, the governor's office isn't likely to object.

I also had a chance to ask Governor Scott about the work Jimbo and Candi Fisher have done for the Kidz First fund, he was highly complimentary.

“I think it’s great what’s he’s doing. I think someone like Coach Fisher, what [he’s] doing to use his position to help kids I think it’s outstanding," said Governor Scott. "We have so many individuals like that around the state that use their position to raise money and take care of- in a variety of ways- take care of kids.”

If you want more information on the Kidz First fund, click here.

For more on Visit Florida, follow this link...

I'll be back later tonight with lots more FSU coverage...

Catching Up with Chris Thompson


If anyone on the Florida State roster is allowed to be down this season, it's probably Chris Thompson. A year after coming back from two broken vertebrae that threatened to end his career, Thompson was having a career year in his senior season only to have it cut short by a torn ACL against Miami last month.

Yesterday, we had a chance to talk to Thompson for the first time since he tore up his knee. 

“I was hoping it wasn’t [torn], but I did once I went down I did feel a little pop in my knee," said Thompson. "But once I went in the locker room I was kind of walking around some so I figured it wasn’t going to be as bad as it was.

"It didn’t even feel too bad on the plane ride back home but once I went to the meeting with Coach Fisher when he called me to his office, that’s when I knew it was bad. Once Coach Fisher asked me, he was like ‘what do you think your injury was?’ Right then I was like ‘I tore my ACL.’ He was like yep.”

Thompson has experience with missing the season, his broken back last year shook the Seminoles to their core and left Thompson overnight in a Winston-Salem hospital. This year, the seriousness of the injury didn't hit him as quickly.

“It was tough, at first it didn’t really set in. I was just sitting there looking at Coach Fisher," said Thompson. "I couldn’t even say anything at first, after I talked to my mom and Coach Fisher got on the phone with my mom, that’s when it really hit me and I just started crying.”

“I knew eventually I was going to have to get those tears out, because after I did, it made me feel a whole lot better about the situation. A couple other days I had where I was a little down but for the most part I know I’m going to come back, I know it’s nothing career ending. It’s nothing for me to really keep my head down about because I know without a doubt I’m going to bounce back.”

And that's why you cannot help but like Chris Thompson. After losing two of his prime years to major injuries, Thompson is as upbeat as ever. Jimbo Fisher calls Thompson what's right about college athletics. After a broken back and a torn ACL within 13 months of each other, it would be understandable if Thompson wanted to give up football for good. After all, who could blame him?

Fat chance though, he's motivated as ever.

“I think about that, but on the inside of me this is what I love to do and I’m not going to quit," said Thompson. "I saw both of these injuries that I’ve had the past couple years as, I see it as minor injuries to be honest with you. Because I know with both injuries that I’ve had that I’m going to come back and play again. I see it as a minor thing, and I also think it all happened for a reason.”

Thompson not only plans on returning, but given how strong he came back this season, he thinks his best is still ahead of him.

“I feel like [I will be better than ever]," Thompson continued. "I’m doing a lot strengthening my knees and my quads, this is an opportunity for me to get those parts of my body stronger. And with the progression I made with my back injury with the explosiveness and everything from that, I totally feel like once I go through this whole rehab process I’m going to come back stronger.”

So now the question is, where will Thompson resume his career? The logical conclusion is that Thompson is done at FSU. He would need to receive a medical exemption from the ACC in order to get another year of eligibility. Typically the ACC goes by the book and are likely to reject Thompson's plea, then it will fall to the NCAA to make a ruling.

If things play out as expected, Thompson will likely be working out for NFL teams come spring. But if he has his way, there's a chance he may be back in the Florida State backfield next season.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I love being here, just playing here with these guys," said Thompson. "I think what really has me thinking that way is just the fact I want to play another full season with my guys but at the same time I don’t know. I’m not sure if I want to come back or even just try to move on right now. It’s still one of those things I’ve been talking it over with my parents trying to decide what’s the right decision, which direction I should go.”

Ultimately, it's the NCAA's decision. Thompson can only control his rehab the rest of the season. 

"I’ve just got to focus on getting healthy and trying to finish up with school," said Thompson. "Because after all of that’s over in December as far as school I can think about what I want to do but right now I don’t really know which direction I want to go.”

One factor that could push Thompson towards another year at FSU– if he's given the opportunity– could be his education. Thompson is six credits from graduating this Spring and could return next year to pursue a masters degree.

“My parents always growing up just told me that education’s first," Thompson recalled. "[My mom] took me from football one time in high school because I got a “C.” So even coming back and trying to get my masters, that’s something that’s still in my mind also. And that’s another reason why I’m still kind of debating what I want to do.”



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