Seminoles or criminoles?: Fisher says FSU ‘stepping up’ to educate players about behavior

Published 2:19 am Thursday, July 23, 2015

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says the Seminoles are “stepping up” their process of educating players about domestic violence and other issues, after a pair of high-profile allegations overshadowed the program in recent weeks.

Fisher says the team has started a four-step program to address the problems, and that character-building exercises have been part of the FSU football culture for years.

Running back Dalvin Cook has been suspended from the team indefinitely after it was alleged that he punched a woman outside a Tallahassee bar, which subsequently led to him being charged. That news came not long after freshman quarterback De’Andre Johnson was kicked off the team after video showed him punching a woman in the face in a bar.

Fisher says that it’s not just a Florida State problem, “but a national problem.”

“I don’t think what’s happening at Florida State is relative to Florida State,” Fisher said. “It’s happening all over this country. We get more attention of it because of the success of our program and I understand it. That’s part of winning. That’s part of being one of the top programs in America and I accept that responsibility and our players have to accept that responsibility. … But we have to continue to work on the problems we have.”

Johnson was not expected to be a key contributor for the Seminoles in 2015, but Cook is considered one of the top running backs in America. He set a FSU freshman record with 1,008 yards last season on 170 carries, with eight touchdowns.

Fisher said he could not comment on the Cook case specifically until the legal process plays out and facts are revealed, though did say he has not considered dismissing Cook from the team at this point.

“It’s a shame that we had the instance we had,” Fisher said, referring to Johnson. “The young man was a tremendous guy. Never been in trouble in his life, but he made a bad choice.”

Those incidents follow the Jameis Winston saga, which had the quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy and led FSU to a national championship as a freshman accused by a fellow student of rape. Winston — now a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — was never charged, but the case continually made national headlines.

All the negative attention prompted FSU President John Thrasher to meet with players last week to reiterate that the off-field actions of the team must reflect well upon the university.

“We’re under a microscope,” FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo said. “That’s what you’re going to get when you come to Florida State. Everything you do is out in the public. It’s unfortunate but we’re learning from our mistakes and just moving on.”