Florida State fans are experiencing déjà vu as rumors swirl around head coach Jimbo Fisher’s reported interested in the coaching vacancy at LSU.
Following the midseason firing of longtime coach Les Miles, LSU is looking for a premier head coach to replace him, and Jimbo Fisher fits the bill. In his seven years as the head man at Florida State, Fisher has gone 76-17, winning the National Championship in 2013, one year after winning the Orange Bowl.
LSU’s interest in Fisher has been both public and intense, with the 51-year-old serving as LSU’s “dream candidate,” according to SEC Country. Fisher has ties to the university, having served as offensive coordinator under Nick Saban and, later, Miles himself.
Despite the speculation, some have called the rumors arrogant and insulting to a Florida State program that has returned to national prominence. The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi added that he believes that “the Florida State job is better than any job in the SEC.”
Others have pointed out some possible reasons Fisher could leave Tallahassee, starting with the Seminoles’ opponents on Saturday. Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times pointed toward the University of Florida’s game-winning goal-line stand against LSU on Nov. 19 as something that may intensify LSU’s pursuit of Fisher, in essence ousting interim coach and potential candidate Ed Orgeron.
Several other factors may play into Fisher’s decision, including his assistant-coach salary pool, LSU’s impressive facilities and aspects that may make recruiting easier for him if he were to change schools, according to Gridiron Now. Fisher’s ability to escape from the recruiting battles with Miami and Florida — not to mention his desire to take on a new challenge — may sway his decision.
It remains to be seen whether Fisher will leave the school that gave him his first head coaching job, and he has expressed previously his desire to remain at FSU. Time will tell where Fisher ends up next fall.
Eight months ago I sat in Monk Bonasorte’s office talking with Florida State’s senior associate athletic director about how his life had changed when doctors discovered a tumor on the left side of his brain last fall after he had a seizure while working out on a treadmill.
Bonasorte never once questioned why. He never complained (other than saying the most difficult part of it all was the affect the medication had on his body). He was content. He told me several times he was ready to accept any plan God had for him. It didn’t mean he was giving up hope. It didn’t mean he would stop fighting the insidious disease called cancer.
It just meant Monk was at peace with his life.
“I’ve had a good life,” he said to me several times.
Late Saturday, Monk Bonasorte lost his battle with brain cancer. He was 59.
In many ways Bonasorte was the face of Florida State football. He arrived in 1977, walking on as a tight end, one year after Bobby Bowden arrived, and earned four varsity letters as a safety. He ranks second in school history with 15 interceptions. Bonasorte was named by Athlon Magazine as a member of the Seminoles’ all-time team and inducted into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.
Bonasorte was a key member of the two teams that started what we know now Florida State football to be; the 1979 and 1980 teams that finished 11-1 and 10-2 and played in back-to-back Orange Bowls against Oklahoma. During his four years at FSU, the Seminoles were 39-8. They had 37 wins the previous eight years combined.
Behind Bonasorte’s desk is a grainy Sports Illustrated photo from one of those Orange Bowls. It shows Monk and fellow DBs Keith Jones and Bobby Butler surrounding an Oklahoma receiver. At the bottom of the photo, which was from SI’s annual year in review issue, it reads: Pass Defense.
Jones, who arrived at FSU the same year as Bonasorte and started 34 games alongside his fellow safety, has a copy of that same photo.
Sunday, he said it had much more meaning.
“Words can’t describe. .. ,” an emotional Jones said. “He meant so much to so many. They talk about glue guys. He was the absolute glue guy. He had no business playing. He weighed 175 pounds soaking wet. He ran the 40 in a day in a half. But he knew football. He taught me football. I learned more from him than any coach I ever played for.”
One other thing few knew about Bonasorte: He could read lips. “When they would whisper the play back and forth. … eight out of 10 times he knew what was coming,” Jones said. “They would get flustered.”
In 1979, Bonasorte was named a third-team All-American after recording eight interceptions, which until Saturday, he shared with one other player as the second most in a season in school history. But Saturday afternoon, Tarvarus McFadden tied that record with his eighth interception of the season in the Seminoles’ 45-14 victory at Syracuse.
Somehow, someway, Monk Bonasorte knew.
And he smiled.
That day we talked Monk was preparing for another grueling round of therapy, trips that took him from Tampa to Duke University in Durham, N.C., during the last year. But through it all, he never stopped working. … or working out. Monk was on that treadmill 50 minutes a day, every day, or every day his body would allow. He continued to fulfill his duties at Florida State. He was the president and executive director of the FSU Varsity Club for 13 years before being hired by the athletics department in 2008 as the senior associate athletic director for football.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said, in a statement, that “nobody cared more about Florida State University and it’s student-athletes” than Bonasorte.
“He dedicated his life to Florida State and was a pillar of strength for our football program during the last year,” Fisher wrote. “Monk was a tremendous administrator who I was lucky to work closely with from the time I arrived here. Most importantly, Monk was a great friend and he will truly be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Beverly, his two sons, T.J. and Rocky, and the rest of his family.”
Monk was an honorary captain for Florida State’s game against Clemson this month. On Friday, he was admitted into hospice care.
On Sunday morning, Monk’s son T.J. Bonasorte, posted the news about his father.
“This isn’t easy to say but I lost my role model, inspiration and more importantly my father tonight. His battle with cancer ended after 1+ year but I wouldn’t consider it a lost battle. Throughout this I got to learn more about Monk the hard worker, the leader, and the father. He loved everything about Florida State University, from the coaching staff, the administrators, to the players he treated them like family and made them feel at home. Thanks Dad for all of the memories we shared.”
Monk Bonasorte is survived by his wife, Beverly, and their sons, T.J. and Rocky.