Claire Corlett

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Samford Athletics Hall of Fame: Jimbo Fisher Induction Speech

Samford Athletics Hall of Fame: Jimbo Fisher Induction Speech

so this is where the academic buildings
are I just found them. If you’d had them just nice when I was here I might’ve came more. But they do have that somebody said it to that that
chair and table over at the library they still have my name on that, that’s where
I was unfortunately with shackles underneath they had to shackle me to the
corner in the chair to get me to do it but no it was this very proud like like
Craig says everyone else it’s amazing when you get an honor bestowed upon you
like this and how grateful and humble it makes you because I don’t think none of
us ever went into athletics thinking for trying to be in some kind of Hall of
Fame we did it because we loved what we were doing and you know just like Craig
said he loved ball I loved all of it played football basketball baseball did
everything in the world and I was the kid no matter if I was in my school
clothes my Sundays clothes if I was walking my girlfriend the ball rolled on
the field I’ll see y’all later I’m gonna get some new pants and had a
lot of girlfriends cause a lot of them left me they had to go play but that was me
I just love to play and you know it is very humbling to stand here and it’s
amazing the time goes by and as I drove through the gates and as I had my two
sons with me now I said you know boy stories started coming back and they
said and somebody told me I said I said I don’t know what to do on my speech and
like Craig’s I’ll start telling tell stories when you were to Samford I said
okay so I drove through the gates today and I was and I was still trying to
finish my speech like like Craig and I said okay I’ll tell that story, no I ain’t gonna tell that story no I’m gonna tell that story I got through about five I myself I tell
any of them and then they’re gonna take my they’re gonna take that plaque down in
the Hall of Fame. I’m not gonna tell any of those stories. I’ll have one or two here at the
end for you but I’ll think of one while I’m up here how about that but but it is
and Samford has meant so much to me and as as we were saying earlier I don’t
know if there’s a university that can touch kids and students like Samford
does I really mean that when you talk about the spiritual aspect
talking about personal aspect talk about the academic aspect and the athletic aspect
and to sit and to change your life and I’m gonna say right now there you know
you make always tell our players every day the choices in life make you the
most important power you have as an individual is the choices you make
because that means you control what happens to you you can’t blame nobody
else there’s two knuckleheads on the corner and you’re hanging
with him they’re doing something bad and you choose to stay there that’s your
fault if somebody else is over here doing something good you and you want to
choose to be with him then you get rewarded for that it’s about choices I’m
gonna take one of the best choices I ever made was a day I transferred to
Samford and I was a very I was having a lot of success at a different program. I only played one year here I only got to play one year here and it’s
ironic but Samford has been intertwined in my life so much in my athletic life
in my coaching life there as I tell some of the stories and the things and all
that’s the one story I can’t I just thought that when I could tell that that
was alright you’ll like that you won’t take my plaque down alright but no it
doesn’t mean so much but this university can touch you in so many ways and
there’s not many universities like it in the country and when I transferred
here and when I was blessed and I never forget my brother who end up as I say
Samford’s family to me my brother played here you saw that picture and then when
I was coaching that 84 behind me that was my brother he came here in 1989 and
played on 89 90 and then the 91 92 teams that went to the national semifinals and
and National quarterfinals that year matter of fact when I went to Youngstown
as it was about 25 degrees and blowing snow and ice and sleet and everything
else and he was from West Virginia he was the only one ready to play rest and rest our
southern boys ain’t part of that thing but it was and it was big and I never
forget the day I said I was gonna leave and go with Terry because Terry called
me and I’ll tell you what Terry is a magician the Bowden family I’ve been
around him a long time and I’ve been intertwined with him very much and I was
always accused of being an honorary Bowden they always a lot of people thought I
was a Bowden that picture and then when I got the national plaque that was
Jeff Bowden who was the offensive coordinator Jeff was my offensive
coordinator at Samford Terry was the head coach you know and of course I end up
being with Bobby and and at those times but that family and the things that went
on just intertwined because as I tell the story and I didn’t realize this when
Samford brought football back in 1984 and they played a team called Salem
College and Salem had a team Terry Bowden was a coach and it was about 13
or 14 division 1 transfers that went to an NAIA one school
you remember that any ideas guys the guys in the back it didn’t matter what
your age was and who it was you could get in school and play you could put we
actually got about 6 NFL guys that came in and we played the school and they
were starting football back that was 1984 and we come down and play
Samford University and I was a starting quarterback as a freshman the first game
I ever played in my life and college football was against Samford University
and I was scared when I transferred later and I’ll explain because we won
the game 82-9 it was tough. So it was very but then I played my last game for
Samford I mean how many times you ever play your first game against the
opponent and your last one for it was ironic well then the next year when I
was coaching I became an assistant coach I coached my first game as an assistant
coaches the quarterback coach for Samford University and then when I was
at Florida State I became the head coach in 2010 and ironically wasn’t supposed
to be the head coach until 2011 they made some decision with coach Bowden and whatever
was going on and as a lower being I stayed out that I promise and because
that man was it was it was an idol to me and a hero and they made me the head
coach year early you know ironically my first game was ever coached against
Samford University it was it was amazing then I and I found out later there’s been two All-American quarterbacks in Samford University history one was Bobby Bowden
one was Jimbo Fisher and I said the intertwining of the relationship and
then to go coach at Florida State to be at Samford you don’t think the good Lord
doesn’t work in funny ways and the choice to come to Samford one of the top
choices of my life I pray to God the one I just made is just as good I promise you
that. I hope that one’s just as good And actually it touched you spiritually and it does and it touches you academically I
mean all the things y’all were saying about me know and the National you know
and you know I’m gonna be honest with that wasn’t real impressed at the beginning
talking about your talk about your academic and you’re talking about you’re the top school in the
state and you’re doing this oh my god you’re only competing against Alabama and Auburn so that don’t even count huh
academically that doesn’t even count now dadgum then you start bringing the
national stats out there was a little better that was a little better
no but it was but it does it can touch you academically and the degrees
and the lessons you learn here and then I think personally I think the one thing
about Samford University as I think about when I talk about building our
program at Texas A&M and like I had to do it at Florida State anywhere you
take over and you have to create your own culture of what your culture is and
how you want your people to be in the way they think in a way they believe if
there’s a better culture than Samford University I’ve never seen it I’ve been
around I’ve been around college athletics a long time and the spiritual
development the personal development and how it can make me really appreciate
things in your life to your child you go 100 miles an hour now you want to play ball you take so many things for granted and I say a special thanks to there’s two
people that allow me to ever have what I have in life and that was my mom and my
dad and my mom I was blessed to have two hard-working very down-to-earth people
my dad was a coal miners y’all know died at 62 years old he was actually blown up
in a coal mine when I was two and I spent six months in the hospital
and I mean I could tell you I mean he was burnt he was broken he was beaten
and I never forget it coming out and I can remember walking up and I was just
three when I first was allowed to go up and see him and all burnt and crying and
anything he had was a picture of me sitting beside him on his on his desk
and my mom always said because he said he wanted to die he was hurting so bad and she said well here’s your reason to live and he set it by him
and you know the sacrifices he made and then went on as he got back and got out
of the hospital and we had a farm and was a little kid and he built two
hundred some acres and they built fence around it for rehab to get stronger then
the next year he went back to coal mines so work ethic desire the ability to
overcome the ability to not be that way then my mom was a schoolteacher she was
a chemistry physics teacher and was brilliant lady I ever met in my life she
made one B in her life and she was going on to be a doctor and she
decided she liked teaching and I still get on her every I could have been a
rich spoiled doctors kid and everything in the world boy I was a coal
miner and the teachers kid had scratch and claw for everything I got I
could have had everything I get on her everyday but no she taught chemistry
physics for 51 years retired at 76 years old she’s now 81 and subs full
time took a full-time sub job at 81 years old so the work ethic and the
sacrifice that’s the reason I’m here and I say when I transferred to Samford I would never forget I was at Salem
College which wasn’t far away from my home in West Virginia and I knew it was
the best for my future I think choices in life you have to look I try to tell
our players every day don’t make choices for most kids make choices for what gets
them what they want the next 10 seconds or tomorrow what’s it going to be five
years down the road ten years down the road and Terry called and you know and
asked me to come down here in Samford and I said do we have a little better
players than we had down there three years ago they said we’re gonna bring
some I said okay no yeah what we had a lot of great players if that was
the first time back a football you had freshmen on scholarship it was it was a
heck of a time when you’re starting to rebuild a program as we did you’ll see
in a minute when we were able to go to one double-a from Division three we went
through the same growing pains until we got there but you know it was a
sacrifice because my what my brother was you talk about sacrificing my dad my mom
my brother was still in high school and then he would play a Friday night
game soon as the game was over they get in a car and drive 11 and a half hours
never sleep watching me play on Saturday go to go there and I remember going the
hotel went to spend as much time as I could before they fell asleep I got up on Sunday
and go back so they wouldn’t miss work they did it they did that for a whole
year and then my brother signs here and my dad about beat him to death I got
the two dumbest boys in the world he said but it was it was it was a
sacrifice and but that ethic that work ethic and then the cultural ability to
come here and create the culture that Samford does that develops you as a
person and you know it’s been the truly the foundation and of why I’ve been
successful in my life I think they provide the work ethic and
the sacrifice and the things they do and like I say with my two boys here I have
Ethan and Trey here and they’re the light of my I mean if I can be half the
parents they were I’ll be blessed and you know as I say they’re the reason you
get out of bed every day the reason the same but that that when I was at
Samford I think I started to realize that because I truly saw the sacrifices
because as a kid you take so many things for granted as you went and
Samford kind of drew this just being around the people here it mattered and
the little things and how they followed the university how they cared how they
interacted with each other and it was just different than anywhere I’d ever
been not the other people were doing oh where I come from you it was a hard hard
life that you had to scratch and claw for everything you got and those
thoughts didn’t come in very often you know I’m saying and I was kind of an
outsider coming in this university from a mentality standpoint from the
cultural standpoint and it had opened my eyes in so many different ways as a
person to really enjoy and appreciate the things you had in life and the
people who sacrifice to put you in those situations as I tell our players this
every day I said I want you to be a hero and they think what you talking about
being yeah we’re gonna try I said no here’s a hero a guy that does a job every day I said somebody a hero to me is the people who were heroes never set out to be
heroes I said somebody was the hero to put you in that seat there was a mom and
a dad that worked a job our grandmother grandfather might have worked two jobs
or three jobs or drove you to every practice that never slept that slept two
hours we all have these athletes we all had those people who who made us heroes
and it started to make me think and open my eyes and as I got in the ball and I
played as long as I could and that’s like today in that picture they were
they were talking about you know when you’re around basketball players and
volleyball player man you feel small they said coach you gonna stay in the
back I said no they’re too big I said if I was that big I wouldn’t be playing
here if I was six four when I’m blessed as I did
god I said God bless you being five nine I could have played in your family I’d
been the biggest in your family right I’ve been a tallest guy in the fan 5’7
was the biggest now he went six foot you have one six footer didn’t I’d have been
second but but no God bless you for a lot of reason you take you take what you
have and you go where you got to go and God lead you in a lot of different ways
and and I think it blessed me by coming to Samford it really did and opened my eyes and and I knew that I wanted to coach and I wanted to go do
the things that that I wanted to give back to those people and without being a
Samford I don’t think those things would ever been possible
I really don’t and it’s an amazing place it’s an amazing place and Chris now that
I’m back in the SEC and now that we get the ACC you never get to come through
Birmingham you know I’m saying the for some reason you’re always up that East
Coast and everything here and then actually I want to be a huge part of
this I want to help but I want to get back to the be a part of this in any way
we shape we can to promote this University because I mean it’s changed
so many lives and you know from coach Bowden to myself to all the great people
has ever been at Chris what you’re doing here to two straight playoff years again
and it’s amazing it’s fun I checked the scores every every every week and I
always see what we’re doing when every sport and try to find it and I always
felt a part of it I just for a guy who came in for one year the way it made me
felt in a way the people here made me felt was amazing Birmingham was always
special in my heart it really is I feel like I’m almost a native Birmingham guy
but I bet I won’t to come back play Auburn and Alabama I bet it won’t be that way I know it’s gonna be different but you know it’s just very lucky to be able to stand here
and be a part of it and again hoping my sons will be able to have a chance to
experience the things in college and the people around them that I did and pick a
good college that allows you to grow as a person and we talked about the
athletics I know but but spiritually and that’s what it does as a coach I think
it’s opened my eyes to want to give back as a coach and know something like I’m
like I’m like your dad a little bit sometimes I will say a few things
sometimes my motives are not always perceived that way but they do come from
the heart and I think you won’t affect and get back to so many kids and when
you talk about how athletics gives back I mean I think athletics teaches just so
many different things in the competitive world and we all want to as I say
sometimes we’re in a little bit that kumbaya where we’re gonna roast
marsh-mellers and by the fire and give everybody a trophy well life isn’t like
that you know what I mean and I think athletics is it such a great buffer to
teach kids how to compete and do things in life if you can take those same
qualities you’re on the field and the coach can give you take them to the
classroom take them to the business world I’ll think you’re ten steps ahead of everybody else in the world because I
think you understand how to work and compete and do things but it is I’m very
humbled like I say I’ve very often I say this all the time I’ve been able to be
very fortunate in the coaching world I don’t say I’ve been able to again as
you’re ever around me I said I said my mouth gets me better players so I’m a
lot better coach with good players I learned that a long time ago and I’ve
been very fortunate to be around a lot of I’ve been up some national
championship teams at different universities been very blessed to coach
some of the best guys and in pro football they’re all pros and doing
everything and and we all you know and every time in life that that coaching
gets tough and you start to complain and you do that and we got this and we got
that I take my mind I say you know what go back to Samford University in 1988
and how many hours you spend 20 hours a day with as I say some of these young
coaches I don’t know if they’ve done it when I had to do the old cut-ups in the
16 millimeter films and spliced them up put them all up on the wall and he had
tape and he had room full of tape I mean like a room like this would be half full
of with about 20 play all your plays in a row you had to go through every tape
and cut them out tape them up then go back and piece them together and do all
the things to get you back in coaching and then some knucklehead would come by
and bump them and knock them all on the floor and flip them over there and you
after after the three fistfights you just had then it was over but the
sacrifice you did but I’d have to go find another job so
I could pay my rent because we wouldn’t making no money and that’s the truth I
mean I remember when I was the offensive coordinator here we went to the National
playoffs in the semis and I was making $17,000 a year in 91 92 and had to get
another job to help pay my rent and be able to pay the bills but wouldn’t trade
it for the world and whenever I think things are tough out there today I take
my mind right back to here it’s like when I was a kid when the ball rolled
out I couldn’t not play just like when they started the game and you wanted to
coach I couldn’t not coach I wanted to be a part of athletics I’m too dumb and
get a real job so I had to coach so but you know it just was the heart and soul
of everything I did and when I came from I think it started right here at
Samford University it can start at home but in my coaching profession in
the ball profession and things and successes I’ve been able to have right
now came from Samford and I don’t think the athletic qualities were there I
think it was more of the spiritual and the culture of Samford that helped me
appreciate those things and cultivate those things that I can hopefully pass
them on before but I’m very humbled God bless you Chris wish you nothing but the
best in future and everybody else at Samford thank y’all

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