GREENSBORO, N.C. - When Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher rattled off six of history's greatest NFL and NBA winners, they were threaded by a common trait that's nearly impossible to teach.
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Joe Montana and John Elway won championships, of course. More importantly to Fisher, they knew how to defend those championships.
All but Bird from that group claimed back-to-back titles during their careers, and Bird went to four straight NBA Finals, winning two. Jordan, the name Fisher spouted the most, achieved two three-peats during his legendary Chicago Bulls era.
"We study guys who had attitudes of domination who won for long periods of time," Fisher said Monday at the ACC Football Kickoff. "Those were guys that all had that killer instinct. They wanted to be on top, and stay on top. One championship wasn't enough."
Naturally, Fisher will do whatever it takes to instill that kind of attitude in his Seminoles, who beat Auburn in January to capture the 2014 BCS National Championship.
"Can't find any books on it. All of 'em tell you how to get there. None of them tell you how to stay there," Fisher said.
On Sunday, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and cornerback P.J. Williams had mixed answers when asked if they've witnessed complacency among their teammates. Fisher won't have any of it.
"It's human nature to win, and relax. It's human nature to make an A on a test and say, eh, I won't study for the next one and still get a B or C," Fisher said. "Our natural human nature is not to strive. We tell them, if you want to be special, you have to be willing to do things other people don't want to do."
Fisher made himself into a history buff who motivates, reading quotes and watching film on the all-time greats. He has brought in speakers, including former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson, to impart wisdom upon the Seminoles.
"Your actions speak. Your drive, your commitment to excellence," Fisher said. "You never saw Michael Jordan not play to the max. That, to me, sends a huge message to the players."
In the case of Winston, last fall's Heisman Trophy winner, Fisher found it difficult to compare his competitive spirit to Jordan, since he's only coached one of them.
"The most important question you can ask in sports is, why?" Fisher said. "You've got to know why you do everything, so when you're wrong you can fix it and when you're right you can duplicate it. He's intrigued by the 'whys.'"
As the team's natural spokesman, Winston insisted Sunday FSU will play 2014 with "a clean slate," happy to cherish the accomplishments of yesteryear but prepared to defend their lofty standard.
"I expect every team we play this year to play their best game," Winston said. "We can say right now we're on top, we're No. 1, but everybody's trying to knock you off."