- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher is focused on winning five more games this season, but he's keenly aware that 2012 is coming to a close for a number of other programs, and that could mean some shake-ups at Florida State.
With several prominent head-coaching jobs likely to come open in the next few weeks, Fisher figures several of his top assistants -- in particular, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops -- will be hot commodities, and the rumor mill doesn’t stop there.
Fans at Auburn have already begun circulating Fisher's name as a potential replacement should Gene Chizik be fired at season's end, and while Fisher said he's not looking at any other options at this point, he didn't entirely dismiss the notion, either.
"We haven't talked to nobody," Fisher said. "I'm happy here, and I'm not talking to anybody. I wouldn't even think of doing that until the season is over, and I don't have any plans on doing that."
Plans can change, but it seems unlikely Fisher would venture away from Florida State for anything less than one of the marquee jobs in the country.
He's routinely suggested that Florida State is a "dream job," and between success on the recruiting trail and extensive organizational control, Fisher would be hard pressed to find a more accommodating position.
For anyone to make a run at luring Fisher away from Florida State, where he is currently under contract through 2016 earning an average of $2.75 million per year, Fisher said all requests would have to follow proper protocol, and that he would not tell his agent to seek out offers.
"They'd have to go through the proper channels to call your AD or the president and say, 'Would we have permission to talk?' and we'd have to give it and ask me if I'd be interested or not interested," Fisher said. "That would be the proper way you have to do it. I would always do it that way. I'm straight up."
While Fisher might not be looking elsewhere, he said he's expecting several assistants to have options for positions with other programs, including Stoops. In fact, Fisher said he's not only expecting changes to his staff, he's encouraging them.
"I don't worry," Fisher said. "I hope [Stoops gets an offer]. When I was that guy, that's what I wanted to do. Change is inevitable. You've got to have a plan for it and where you want to go and what you want to do. I hope he stays here forever. As long as I'm here, I want him as defensive coordinator. But I also want him to reach his dreams and goals to become a head football coach."
Stoops has been FSU's defensive coordinator since 2010, and has helped revitalize the Seminoles' defense. When Stoops arrived, he inherited a unit that ranked 108th nationally in total defense. This season, FSU is No. 1 in the country.
Stoops was rumored for several coordinator and head-coaching vacancies following the 2011 season, but after watching his brother Mike struggle at Arizona, Mark Stoops said he was reticent to leave Florida State unless he was certain the job offer was an ideal fit.
"You've got to make sure you take the right job to have an opportunity to win," Stoops said before the season. "This thing, there's a lot of things you've got to have in place to be successful beyond yourself and your coaches. You better have some support, top to bottom."
If Stoops or another top assistant leaves, Fisher won't be caught off guard.
"I have a list of every position out there of five, six, seven guys that you would immediately pick up the phone and go to," Fisher said. "You're constantly changing that and adding to that. That's something as a head coach you have to spend a lot of time doing. In this business, change is inevitable. With the money -- it ain't like guys stay somewhere forever and ever."
While the transitions on a staff can cause some immediate problems, Fisher said losing assistants can also be a boon for a program. Just as a program hopes to recruit top players and prepare them for careers in the NFL, developing assistant coaches also helps build a reputation that creates a pipeline for talent.
"You hope your system helps develop head coaches. I love that," Fisher said. "I want to be known as that. It makes the other top assistants want to come and makes other people want to be here. You have good players, you have a good system, you're organized well, you understand the big picture and what you want. I think that's another thing -- just like players want to come somewhere to get developed, hopefully coaches can do the same thing."
13hDavid M. Hale
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