TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday that the Heisman Trophy is a popularity contest for “show dogs” with the winner now usually the best player on which team voters feel is the best.
Fisher, who is adamant about trying to shield his players from outside distractions, bristled briefly when asked about quarterback EJ Manuel’s chances of winning the award.
“Like I say, that’s for show dogs,” Fisher said in response to a question at his weekly media availability. “If you want to parade him around and do all that, I’d rather have a hunting dog.
“When I let him out that truck, he’s ready to go,” Fisher said. “I think that’s what he is and I think he understands that. He’s mature enough to understand that.”
Fisher did say it would be “wonderful” if Manuel won the Heisman, considered the most coveted individual honor in college football.
“That’s all great, but that’s not for him to decide,” Fisher said. “For him to decide is what kind of teammate he’s going to be, what kind of leader he’s going to be and how he’s going to go each week.”
It’s an apparent change of mind for the third-year Seminole coach, who embraced an elaborate, albeit short-lived campaign two years ago for former Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, who is now with the Minnesota Vikings. There is no similar effort on Manuel’s behalf.
“Great players have won it, I don’t mean that,” Fisher said. “It’s the best player on the best team, ok, that’s great. If you want to be the best team, you have to play well.”
Manuel was sensational in Florida State’s 49-37 win over Clemson on Saturday when he passed for 380 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 102 to become the first Seminole quarterback since former Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward in 1992 to throw for more than 300 yards and run for over 100 in a game.
The exceedingly polite and humble Manuel said Monday he doesn’t think much about individual honors.
“Personal accolades are one thing, but you’ve as a team got to win,” Manuel said. “Nobody’s gonna really care about personal accolades unless you’re winning. We’ve just got to keep winning and playing well.”
Fourth-ranked Florida State is 4-0 plays its first road game Saturday at South Florida.