Florida State has faced a P.R. nightmare the last month or so, with one player dismissed from the football program after a video surfaced of him punching a woman in the face at a bar and, a short time later, the star running back accused of the very same thing.
Not surprisingly, the off-field issues for his football program have taken center stage for Jimbo Fisher at the ACC Kickoff event in Pinehurst, NC, this week. According to the FSU head coach, neither he nor his football program has any patience for a player who lays a hand on the opposite sex, which he (correctly) states is a problem that’s not unique to the Seminoles.
“There’s no tolerance for hitting women,” Fisher stated. “You’re judged by what you do and we’ve had a couple of instances, just like other people have, too. It’s not a Florida State problem, it’s a national problem. It’s not just an athletic problem, it’s a domestic problem across our country. … we don’t tolerate it or accept it.”
Fisher, though, has been criticized because of his handling of the Cook situation, with many suggesting he’s still a part of the team, albeit suspended, because he’s the team’s top back — Cook led the ‘Noles in rushing as a true freshman last season. In explaining why Cook remains on the team (no video of the alleged punch has surfaced) while De’Andre Johnson was booted (video surfaced), Fisher stated plainly that “[w]ith each case you wait for the facts to come out.”
Because of the negative attention brought on the university by these situations, FSU president John Thrasher had what some have described as a come-to-Jesus meeting with the football team earlier this month. Fisher says that’s simply part of the ongoing effort to educate all of his players.
“You have to continue to educate your kids,” Fisher said. “We’ve had a very extensive program. We go 40 days a year of bringing in character-building people, developmental conditioning with issues: drugs, alcohol, opposite sex, domestic violence. We’ve done it from the very first day I’ve been there.”
ESPN.com writes that, as part of that ongoing education, “[t]he players are in a new four-step program and are coming off a five-hour seminar that was originally planned for August.” Just one week prior to Johnson’s arrest, former Navy SEALs spoke to the team about making good off-field decisions. Fisher is also good friends with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has agreed to work with the football team as part of his “Pass the Peace” campaign, which supports victims of domestic violence. Former Seminoles, including Charlie Ward and Myron Rolle, have offered their services to come back and speak to the team.
Both the Cook and Johnson incidents took place at Tallahassee drinking establishments, which led to reports that Fisher had banned his players from bars. According to Fisher, the players themselves were involved in the decision to “avoid” bars and nightclubs and the like.
“They said they’re not putting themselves in those positions,” said the coach. “It’s a collective ban. They collectively as a group said the same thing, ‘we don’t need to be in there.'”