5 decisions that might define 2013

January, 8, 2013
1/08/13
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In the week since Florida State's season ended with a win over Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl, decisions from players and coaches have made big news.

Bjoern Werner, Xavier Rhodes and Menelik Watson are leaving. Lamarcus Joyner is staying. Quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig is heading to Auburn. Linebackers coach Greg Hudson might do the same.

The impact of those decisions will be felt throughout the next few months, but there are plenty of other significant choices still to be made. Here are five key questions still awaiting answers that may dictate how the 2013 season unfolds.

1. How will Jimbo Fisher fill out his coaching staff?

Fisher has rightly argued that the large scale departures from his staff during the past six weeks aren't an indication of problems but rather a sign of just how much talent FSU had accumulated. Craig, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, ends coach DJ Eliot and running backs coach Eddie Gran all left for better jobs. Hudson reportedly will as well. In the two previous offseasons, Fisher hadn't lost anyone from his staff.

Still, it's rare that there is this much turnover on a staff without the head coach leaving, and with National Signing Day looming less than a month away, the implications on FSU's already tenuous Class of 2013 could be significant.

Fisher has already brought in a top recruiter in Jeremy Pruitt to take over for Stoops -- though he's been occupied with the national title game until Monday -- and Sal Sunseri brings experience, too, and early reports have Georgia Tech's Charles Kelly as a top possibility to replace Hudson. But there will be plenty of eyes -- particularly among some high school seniors -- watching the next round of hires very closely.

2. Will Fisher remain as FSU's play caller?

Jimbo Fisher
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsWill Jimbo Fisher be calling the shots for Florida State's offense in 2013?
With two big vacancies on the offensive staff, the question of whether or not Fisher will retain play calling duties in 2013 is a big one.

After FSU's loss to NC State in which he was heavily criticized for a conservative approach, the calls for Fisher to delegate authority to a true offensive coordinator have only gotten louder. For his part, he's said that was always the plan. He just hasn't said when he'll put that plan into action. Bringing in new high-level assistants may require him to expedite things.

3. Who will replace the departing juniors?

Florida State got a taste of its future at defensive end in the final two games of the season as freshman Mario Edwards Jr., stepped in and looked good. But with Werner departing, another job will open up, too, and it will be interesting to see if freshman Chris Casher can come back from an injury that cost him most of 2012 to push redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry for the job.

On the offensive line, Bobby Hart appears the likely candidate to get the first crack at replacing Watson. He started the final eight games of 2011 at right guard, but fell out of favor last spring. Whether he's learned from his demotion or regressed because of it remains a major question mark.

Meanwhile, Rhodes' position certainly looks like it will be filled by Ronald Darby, who was a Football Writers Association Freshman All-American this season.

4. Will the conference realignment talk surface again?

If scheduling in a down ACC was a big topic in 2012, it's going to get even bigger in 2013. FSU has only Florida as a major non-conference opponent, and that game will be in Gainesville in 2013. The home slate looks sparse for big games, meaning the financial concerns that followed the 2011 season could be rekindled. And all of that will only lead to the inevitable questions of whether the grass might be greener for FSU in the Big 12 or elsewhere.

Rumors swirled in early December that other teams might soon bolt the ACC, but those have quieted. Still, the merry-go-round of conference shuffling looms over the entire sport, and Florida State remains as perhaps the biggest prize on the market.

5. Who starts at quarterback?

This is the one most likely to dominate headlines between now and the opener. If Fisher is lucky, that's where the talk will end -- though with three potential candidates, each with his share of supporters, there's ample space for a QB controversy even after the season begins.

Clint Trickett will be the default No. 1 heading into the spring, but Jacob Coker got some experience and has a better overall skill set. Meanwhile, freshman Jameis Winston may be the best of the bunch -- despite never having taken a snap in a college game.

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