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New sheriff in town

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher makes no bones about it: He's ready to put his stamp on the Florida State football program.

Fisher made that more than evident Sunday during the Seminoles' annual Media and Fan Day. And for the first time in 34 years, the man who built the program, former head coach Bobby Bowden, wasn't at the podium.

When a reporter began asking a question about how the new coach following a legend hasn't always had the greatest success, Fisher softly interrupted, "Sometimes they have."

"The core values (that Bowden installed) haven't changed, just the day-to-day operations," he said. "All this is not about me, it's not about coach Bowden. It's about the players."

Fisher, the Seminoles' offensive coordinator the past three seasons, and Bowden, the man who tallied 389 wins in Tallahassee, have talked on occasion, but Fisher preferred to keep the details of those conversations private.

Still, the first-year head coach doesn't plan to rely too much on Bowden, who has said he won't have much involvement, if any, with the program so soon after retirement.

"All the guys that were great and successful, they've done it their way," Fisher said.

While Fisher said it was an honor to work under Bowden and learn from him, one thing he doesn't want a part of is the mediocrity that persisted in Bowden's final years, including three 7-6 seasons in the past five years.

"We're not interested in being average," Fisher said.

After speaking with reporters, Fisher held an impromptu team meeting Sunday to tell players that junior receiver Jarmon Fortson had been dismissed from the team for violating team policy, according to the university. Fortson, the third leading receiver last year with 45 catches, 610 receiving yards and four touchdowns, was expected to be one of quarterback Christian Ponder's main targets this season.

Fisher, who said earlier Sunday that Fortson had been held out of practice last week for a small injury, spoke at length about character and doing things the right way. He pointed to Ponder as one of the shining examples on the Seminoles' roster.

Ponder threw for more than 2,700 yards last season before a shoulder injury in the ninth game ended his year. Ponder, who said he's fully recovered from the injury, will be the face of the Florida State team in 2010. And that's just fine with Fisher.

"I think it's important for the whole organization to have a player that the other players truly respect," Fisher said. "He's willing to put the sweat in to get the glory. He doesn't know how to do it any other way."

The Florida State offense, which returns all five offensive lineman from last year's 7-6 team, hasn't been the talk of early fall practice. It's the defense that Seminole Nation wants to see improve after giving up 30 points a game a year ago.

"We'll never be a great team until we're great on defense," Fisher said. "I like where we're going (but) we're not there yet."

Mark Stoops, brother of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Arizona coach Mike Stoops, was brought in from Arizona to run the defense this year. Mark Stoops, who'll face his brother Bob when Florida State travels to Oklahoma on Sept. 11, takes over for long-time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

Members of the Seminoles' secondary said Stoops' coverage schemes are different from Andrews', mainly in that they'll be in zone coverage more than man-to-man.

"There's a lot of talk about zone coverage because we played man last year a lot, but (Stoops) will throw (different coverages) in there," Seminoles sophomore cornerback and former Lowndes County star Greg Reid said. "We're going to blitz a lot and bring the pressure."

Senior corner Ochuko Jenije said he expects the defensive scheme to be completely installed by the opener against Samford.

"We're picking it up," Jenije said. "We did a lot of work during the summer, so hopefully we'll get it by Game 1.

"That's the goal."