- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher talked about his preparation for Auburn on Sunday morning, casually mentioning that he keeps “a running record of all the guys we've played against and books on all the guys we've ever played against for the last 10, 15, years.”
The past 10, 15 years?
And you thought a month was a long time to prepare for the VIZIO BCS National Championship.
“We see everything,” Fisher said. “We have a lot of guys on our staff [who] have played against [Auburn coach] Gus [Malzahn] for a long time. They know a lot of his high school roots, they know a lot of people he was around and things he did.”
With so much crossover in the coaching profession, there are few true secrets anymore.
Everything is on film, and the Seminoles have a library full of it. Florida State’s staff has seen hints of Auburn in their games against Clemson, where offensive coordinator Chad Morris uses a Malzahn blueprint. Fisher has seen what Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson likes to do, because Fisher played against Johnson when he was at Mississippi State and South Carolina.
“We research all the way back on all those guys, and we've got a running record of all those guys, and we check all that stuff,” Fisher said.
It’s not just Auburn.
Florida State keeps every practice schedule from preparing for each opponent to every film breakdown. The Seminoles keep all of their notes from the end of each game -- what they did well, what they did poorly, things they’d do differently, big plays, critical plays, what was called when the game was on the line.
“You have a list of those things, and we keep a file on everybody, offense, defense. We've done it for years and you file them away,” Fisher said, “and when you play them again, you pull them out and see how they change or what they've done and things like that just to keep a running record of guys you play, because, whether in the conference [or nonconference], in this business you cross over so much.”
In fact, Florida State’s staff has so much information on Auburn, Fisher said they have to be careful of not trying to do too much Monday night.
“You have to play five more games to get all the plays in you want,” he said. “You have to make sure you keep doing things you do well.”
Both coaches are playing for their first national title tonight, so information overload is to be expected. Malzahn could become just the fourth coach in the poll era (since 1936) to win a national championship in his first season at a school. Malzahn said self-scouting is just as important as researching the opponent.
“Yeah, I think any time you have 30 days, you're going to have all the information and then some, and then as a coach, you've just got to filter all that and predict the best you can on what they're going to do offensively, defensively and special teams, and then I think it's very important that you self-scout yourself,” he said. “So we've tried to do a great job of that, even like we're our own opponent just to see what they're seeing, and then you match up.”
Both teams are likely to add a few wrinkles tonight, but odds are there are few true surprises.
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