*Courtesy Auburn Media Relations*
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Jimbo Fisher knows about championships. He knows about the Southeastern Conference. And he knows about Auburn.
Fisher, in his fourth year as Florida State's head coach, has experienced them all. He won a national championship and two SEC championships at LSU. He won last season's Atlantic Coast Conference championship. He cut his coaching teeth at Auburn, following Terry Bowden from Samford as a quarterbacks coach not that much older than the players he taught.
On Jan. 6 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Fisher and the No. 1 Seminoles (13-0) will try to break the Southeastern Conference's stranglehold on the BCS championship when they play No. 2 Auburn (12-1).
But Fisher dismisses the notion that he's tried to build an SEC-style team at Florida State.
"I've built a team I think will win the championship," Fisher said. "I coached in the SEC for 13 years. I know the good and the bad. I know the propaganda and the truth. It's a great league, great coaches, they love it. We built our team not off an SEC team. We built a team we think will win us a championship."
Fisher played quarterback for Bowden at Samford, then joined his coaching staff. He followed him to Auburn, where he spent five seasons. His Auburn connections are a thread throughout the coming game. Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett was Bowden's offensive line coach at Auburn. Auburn wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig played quarterback for Fisher at Auburn and coached for him at Florida State for three seasons. Bob LaCivita, Florida State's director of player personnel, filled a similar role for Bowden at Auburn. Fisher's wife, Candi, is an Auburn graduate.
His years at Auburn, Fisher says, were valuable for one so young.
"Naïve. Green. 27 years old. First Division I job. Great people," Fisher said. "Football is very important there. I made a lot of great friends I still have to this day. It's a great place to live and grow up coaching."
Behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston and a dominating defense, Florida State romped through the ACC and into the big game. To win it all, the Seminoles will have to deal with the nation's most prolific running game.
"They have tempo and they have good players," Fisher said. "The back (Tre Mason) is a very good player. The quarterback (Nick Marshall) is very dynamic and can run it. They create problems with motion. You have to set edges and they can outflank you. They make you have to be gap-control sound inside. They go at a high tempo.
"Good players, well-coached can run, different guys can carry the ball. They throw an occasional deep ball and make big plays that well. It's a combination of all those things, and they execute it very well. The guys that touch the ball are dynamic and the offensive line is very good."
Fisher says there's nothing unique about the plays Auburn runs, but stopping those plays is a different kind of challenge.
"It's the multiplicity of how they get the ball to the edge, get the ball in the middle, and there are three or four different ballcarriers," Fisher said. "It's not the wishbone but it's that philosophy. The old wishbone philosophy is you have to be disciplined or it's out the gate. But they throw the ball better than those teams did."
Both Auburn and Florida State will break for Christmas this weekend and return after Christmas. They will travel across the country on Dec. 31.