The stories are always good when former Florida State defensive coaches Mickey Andrews and Jim Gladden get together. And on Saturday, before FSU’s game against Louisville, they were the guests at “Sod Talk.” Below are some thoughts from the longtime assistant coaches.
On the importance of fundamentals: “If we play good out there today you’re going to see good fundamentals. Blocking and tackling. That’s still the name of the game. I don’t care what offense you run against, what scheme you play on defense, it’s about fundamentals. And I remember Jim and I and all our staff, we talked too much about it. … You’ll never see a great defense if you don’t see a great tackling team. That’s just the way it is. The better you tackle and the better you defend, the better chance you have of winning.”
On the philosophy of 11 men around the ball: “Well, it wasn’t something that we requested they did. We didn’t just ask them to do it. We demanded they do it. When Jim and I were first coaching here our little deal was you better be in that picture before it turns off. It didn’t matter where you were on the field. We want 11. And we would count numbers.”
On Deion Sanders: “Deion was a guy, he absolutely could not stand to get beat at anytime. I’m not talking about a whole pracitce. I’m not talking one play. I remember one year, his freshman year, he’s practicing baseball from 1 to 3 in the afternoon in the spring. And then he would come in, get dressed and do his football from 3 to 5. Back then there was not a three-hour time limit. So he might not get through until 7 o’clock on some nights. It was up to the players. But he was so distracted because he wasn’t stopping choking a receiver down on every play. He comes over and tells coach Martin, ‘I’m not gonna play baseball anymore. I’m just going to play football.’ When he was coming over to (football) practice, coach Martin called me and told me what happened. I told him I’ll talk with him. And I said, ‘Listen, you start something, you finish it. You go back over and talk to coach Martin right now.’ He said, ‘But, coach, I didn’t come over here to play baseball, I came here to play football. And I’m not getting better fast enough.’ But that’s just the way it was. I’ve never seen a guy with more passion to become a great player to be the best that he could be. … He was the easiest guy to coach that I’ve ever had.”
On the lack of a star system: “Years ago we didn’t have stars. It wasn’t a three-star, four-star, five-star. Deion was up here for the Saturday Night Live (event). He had his son here. I asked Deion, ‘What star would you have been if they were giving out stars back then?’ He said, ‘A two-star, maybe a three.’ I thought, that’s exactly what I would have said. Really. He had raw talent. I will tell you what he did have: he had a five-star heart.”
On former FSU defensive back Chris Hope: “One of the smartest players we ever had. Not just football but about life. And just determined. Very dependable.”
On former FSU defensive back Tay Cody: “Not flashy. Knew what it was to accept responsibility and knew how to finish plays.”
On former FSU linebacker Marvin Jones: “If Shade Tree was playing now I don’t think he’d ever finish a game. He’d get caught for targeting. Target him with your eyes and your facemark. Inthree years he broke four quarterbacks’ jaws.”
On working with coach Bobby Bowden: “There are a lot of things about coach Bowden I would like to share with everybody here. But for the lack of time, I don’t have the time to tell you everything about him. But it was coach Bowden’s management style. His management style was the thing that set him apart. And by that I mean what he allowed us to do. Don’t get me wrong here now. He laid down a foundation for us. He laid out parameters for the defense, and laid out parameters for the offense and the kicking game. And he said, ‘Now, within those parameters, you guys, coach the team, do it your way. It’s your bunch of guys you’re working with. I’m not going to tell you how to do your job. If had to tell you how to do your job, I wouldn’t need you.’”
“So he’ll allowed us to put our own spin on a scheme he endorsed. And what that did was that gave ownership to each and every one of us. We had ownership in the team. And that’s what Coach Bowden did with the fans. … It was always we. It was always us. It was always together, we’re going to do it.”
On how the coaches handled repeated ‘loafing’ by players: “Monday night was the night to condition our team. And we were always going to run five gassers as a team. Ok? (A gasser is a sprint from one goal line to the opposite goal line – 100 yards – and back within a time defined by your weight or position.) But we dangled the carrot out there to the defense. If you hold them under X amount of yards, it takes one off. If you score or set up a score, that takes one off. If we intercept three passes or more, that takes one off. So we gave them an opportunity to take these gassers off. Now, if you shut them out, it took them all off. We ran gassers for missed assignments, loafs, foolish penalties. And they had to make a time.” Editor’s note: each position had a prescribed time they had to complete. A defensive back or wide receiver might have a time of 25 seconds where an offensive lineman might have to make their time in 35 seconds. If they failed to make their time they had to do it again.
And if a player who ran gassers and continued to loaf: “The way you stop that guy is after you’ve done your traditional conditioning everybody’s going to do and after Coach Bowden has dismissed the team, we got the defense down there in the south end zone. Ok. Let’s call that guy’s name, Charlie. You go over and sit on the bench, Charlie. The rest of the team is going to run your gassers for you. So if a guy had six or eight gassers, the rest of the team is going to run his gassers and they got to make them. And he sat on the bench and watched. That was motivation.”
On coach Bowden’s recruiting philosophy: “Coach Bowden’s driving theme was that dependability is the best ability. ‘Don’t bring an undependable guy in this program. Don’t bring a thug in this program. I’m holding you responsible for what you bring into this program. … You go to that guidance counselor, you look at that transcript. And you determine if that boy can graduate from Florida State. If he can’t, you go on to the next guy.’ And he said, ‘No. 2, you can tell if he’s dependable. He’s got 20 absences a semester, you go on to the next guy.’ And then the third thing he said, ‘Can he run? Recruit speed.’ Coach’s statement was, ‘You can’t take a mule to the Kentucky Derby.’ “
On defensive tackle Ron Simmons: “Probably the first great player on a national board we brought in in the Bowden Era. Fast. Strong.”
On former defensive lineman Andre Wadsworth: “Big. Strong. Had to be double-teamed at the point of attack.”
The Sod Talk guests on Saturday before the NC State game will be Kenny Shaw and Dedrick Dodge. If you enjoy reading stories like this, consider a subscription to the Osceola. Go to theOsceola.com/reasons-to-join-our-tribe to read about our staff and enjoy a 7-day free trial.