After a lengthy courtship of Bob Stoops, Florida State’s coaching search has moved on.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported on Friday afternoon that the former Oklahoma head coach had been in contact with FSU officials but that he was not a candidate. The Osceola has been able to verify the accuracy of the report, via school spokesperson Rob Wilson.
Bob Stoops, 59, is set to coach the XFL’s Dallas team in the spring of 2020.
FSU president John Thrasher, athletics director David Coburn and top booster officials had been part of a nationwide search for a new head coach. Coburn retained national search firm DHR International in the days after dismissing coach Willie Taggart on Nov. 3. DHR’s Glenn Sugiyama is helping with the search.
It’s not clear which candidate FSU is pursuing next but among the options with head coaching experience are Memphis coach Mike Norvell, Penn State coach James Franklin and Kentucky’s Mark Stoops.
One option, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck, appears to be off the table. Twincities.com reported on Thursday night that the Minnesota board of regents approved an extension for Fleck, one that includes a $10 million buyout but also steps down in buyout amount in 2021 and subsequent years.
Candidates without head coaching experience could include Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Tigers co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott as well as LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda are also potential options.
One challenge in hiring a coordinator from a Clemson, LSU or another top school is the timeline given the conference championship games on Dec. 7 as well as the four-team playoff around New Year’s.
Coburn and FSU officials are clearly looking to move quickly, setting a timeline for the end of November, so that the new head coach can hit the ground running with the early signing period approaching Dec. 18-20.
Another potential challenge is that FSU’s candidates could be similar to that of other schools. Arkansas has an opening and could be interested in Auburn coach Gus Malzahn as well as Norvell, both of which have ties to the state of Arkansas. Coaching agents could begin to use other schools as leverage against FSU in negotiations.
Osceola publisher Jerry Kutz contributed to this report