Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Season of change begins for Florida State
By Andrea Adelson
Players come and players go every single season in college football.
Coaches come and coaches go, too.
Jimbo Fisher's coaching staff at FSU will have a much different look next season.
But what set Florida State apart from most programs in the country was coaching stability. Given all the assistant coaching turnover year in and year out, the Noles were that rare program that hung on to its assistants. For three full seasons, in fact. Such continuity is rarely achievable, and nearly impossible in the long-term.
That is what coach Jimbo Fisher and the Noles are finding out. For the first time as head coach, Fisher has to deal with assistant coaches leaving. More assistant losses, in fact, than any other elite program in America with a returning head coach. Five assistants who began when Fisher took over in 2010 are now gone.
Three of them were coordinators -- Mark Stoops on defense (now head coach at Kentucky), Eddie Gran on special teams (now at Cincinnati) and Dameyune Craig as recruiting coordinator (now at Auburn).
Five new assistants are in, joining long-time holdovers James Coley, Lawrence Dawsey, Rick Trickett and Odell Haggins.
While Fisher has downplayed how all of this staff change might impact his team, you cannot deny just how different the Noles will look when spring practice opens. Not only will there be a new starting quarterback, and many new faces on defense, the faces coaching the guys will be new, too.
That is a storyline worth watching, especially if you take a look at other staffs that have experienced this much change in recent years under a returning head coach. There are many examples:
Wisconsin had six new assistants going into 2012 under former coach Bret Bielema. The Badgers got off to such a rocky start, they fired one of them after Week 2 -- offensive line coach Mike Markuson.
After the 2010 season, Texas lost five assistants, including coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp, now at Florida. The Longhorns have felt the ramifications of those losses the past two seasons.
Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley lost all but two of his assistants after the 2011 season and had to hire seven new coaches. Dooley was fired after this past season.
Wisconsin and Texas were in similar positions to Florida State. Those programs had coaching continuity for years, a big reason why they were able to win conference championships and make BCS games. Now, none of this is to imply that Florida State is going to have major struggles.
But it is to say that replacing so many coaches is not always a seamless process. Not only do players have to adjust, but Fisher has to adjust, and so do the coaches who have remained on staff. Coaching chemistry cannot be overlooked. The guys leading your players have to get along. Their personalities have to mesh.
Back in November, Fisher said, "Change is inevitable. You've got to have a plan for it, and where you want to go and what you want to do."