Bob Stoops out of mix in FSU search

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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


  1. Patrick Burnham Reply

    Well things just got a lot more interesting in the search to see who FSU’s next head coach will be. I am sure we will hear more about PJ Fleck, Venables, Franklin, Norvell, Stoops, Campbell, Odell, Jeff Scott…etc

  2. Robert Reply

    Until FSU places someone at podium, all bets are off

  3. Ray Schneider Reply

    Not buying this article….Sorry.

    • Jerry Kutz Reply

      You could be right or maybe “No means no.”

      I’ve read the conspiracy theories on the other message boards and if they prove true, then FSU has suddenly learned how to manipulate the media. You and I know that’s never been something FSU has been able to do. Kudos if so.

      As I wrote the other day, I believe there are people in the FSU camp who thought FSU had Stoops but other people in the FSU camp who said there is NO chance. If you believe the optimistic crowd and dismiss the dissenting view, then your conclusion is FSU will sign Bob so that’s what you will write. And vice versa.

      I found myself believing FSU had a chance on some days as I listened to the FSU optimists but on other days, when talking to the FSU pragmatists felt this would end with a no, just like it did with Bob and his buddy Jeremy Foley at Florida a few years ago.

      The reporter will write what he believes to be true. A good reporter will qualify there is no corroborating sources, or if he has several optimists who corroborate the story but he’s done his job and knows there are dissenting views, I think we have an obligation to print it. Which we did.

      And then there was the matter of the Stoops camp. I have people in the Stoops camp who have maintained from day 1 that Bob would NOT take the FSU job because he has no interest in getting back into college and college recruiting. After talking to them, I thought he’s going to tell FSU no.

      My point is this could be a sophisticated ruse by FSU and Stoops — maybe with advise from the consulting firm — or it could be a simple, “I appreciate the offer but no thank you.”

      I do know FSU has been actively interviewing candidates.

      Coburn said this would be done withing 30 days and we’re now only 12 days in.

      Lots of time on the clock.

      I hope you are right because I like Stoops and because it tells me FSU is plowing new ground in its media relations department.

    • John Biscotti Reply

      What bout Mark richet?

  4. Dan Densmore Reply

    The staff is mostly in place now..Odell HC Leavitt DC Briles OC…tweak assistant coaches…move on

    • Jerry Kutz Reply

      When you do a positive and negative check list on each coach being interviewed, this is a box you would check in Odell’s favor.
      To follow your logic, If Odell were hired and could keep Briles and Leavitt as you indicated, I would think Odell would get Brile’s opinions on the offensive staff and Briles, who coaches QBs, and he would agree on Clements at OL and Duggans at WR. I personally do not know their feeling on TE and RB.

      If Leavitt is the DC, I would imagine Odell would share those decisions with Jim. Leavitt is a LB coach but you do have to replace Odell on defensive line. A second position of discussion is at OLB. A third would be at DB. I hear both Odell and Leavitt like Barnett as a person. Would they want Barnett as a DB coach and would Barnett want to serve in that capacity, so this could be a third position he needs to replace. And the fourth defensive decision would be the 10th coach they do not yet have on staff.
      So that’s a total of up to six position coaches Odell may need to hire.

      There are a number of other staff positions in the football office and strength and conditioning area, who came in with Willie Taggart, who serve at the leisure of the head coach who he may choose to replace too.
      So it does not need to be a total replacement, but there are more than a few openings, so it will require some thoughtful hiring.

  5. Dan Densmore Reply

    Seems like there are more unknowns with the candidates across the board. I would hate to see
    FSU turn into the Alabama mess before Saban came aboard. I guess that’s why they hired a consultant.
    It’s hard to discount what Leavitt did at USF, he put the program on the map from nothing. Yes, he has some history, but his teams were disciplined and very well-coached. It will be interesting to see this pan out.

    Thanks for tickets to hoops last night !!! That was awesome

  6. Jeremy Moore Reply

    Since Bob is apparently out and Minnesota was proactive in expediting Fleck’s new contract. Outside of Matt Rhule, I dont see or maybe recognize any other viable “cant miss” options out there do you? In that case, I guess you stay in house for the short term fix?

    • Jerry Kutz Reply

      I am not going to count my chickens until the process is over at the end of the month. The process has been managed very well and no one interviewed is supposed to talk about it.
      No probably means no with Bob Stoops, but who knows.
      If FSU wants Fleck, the buyout may not be prohibitive. We’ve heard any number of possible candidates rumored – Mark Stoops, Richt, Franklin, Campbell, Frese, Norvell, Ruhl,Venables – with none of them denying they are.
      I understand what you mean about a “can’t miss” candidate. But honestly, who is? Even BGB hasn’t won a NC in 20 years.
      I think a lot of guys can get us to 9 wins pretty quick (1 or 2 years) but who will get us to 10, 11, 12 a national championship?
      Tough call. But that’s why you do the interviews.

  7. Dennis Engelhardt Reply

    While I love the Hagins, Briles, Leavitt team, one bottom line need besides OL is discipline. Hagins has been there through it all and Herbstriet kinda hit it on the head that the attitude on the field was an issue. Barnett is a nice guy, but the main problem I see in the defense is the dB’s! We need Buckley there instead of Barnett!

    • Jerry Kutz Reply

      Odell has been through it all but there’s a difference between being an assistant and being the man. Odell has been a good soldier and executes the vision of the head coach. He has not been allowed to chart the course. I suspect you would see a more disciplined product if he was the HC as the players know what he stands for and expects. But there are a lot of other skill sets a head coach must possess, so kudoos to FSU for taking a long slow look.

      I can see your point with the defense and would not be surprised to see a change made there too. I have enjoyed Buckley’s career, his time as a defensive back coach, but I don’t know enough about his skills as a DC to predict yet.

  8. John Biscotti Reply

    What bout Mark richet?

    • JT Reply

      I’ve heard of Marck Richt. Who is this Richet?

  9. Jerry Gray Reply

    I hope mark richet will be our next coach he would bring the much needed discipline back to FSU.

  10. Richard Guardia Reply

    Mark Richt? Why do programs recycle coaches over and over who can’t win? He was at UGA for 16 seasons and did nothing. Went to Miami and did nothing. Now, he is a serious candidate for the FSU job? God help us!

    • Jerry Kutz Reply

      FSU is in a month long search process in which they are interviewing a lot of candidates. We will write about some of the possible candidates they may be interviewing. We have reason to believe FSU interviewed Mark but we do not know if his interview was “serious” or exploratory. I would absolutely have a meeting with Mark, whether he is interested in this job or not, to pick his brain about who the brightest minds in the game are right now. He competed against them as a head coach and is still actively involved as a broadcaster. I honestly do not know if Mark even wants to get back into coaching but here’s why I think he’s someone FSU needs to consider if you believe head coaching experience is important:

      As for Mark Richt’s accomplishments in 18 seasons as a head coach:
      – had the 3rd highest winning percentage among active coaches who had coached 200 or more games (.728)
      – only one active head coach who had more players drafted into the NFL (Mark had 93)
      – his teams finished in either the AP or Coaches top 10 eight times in 18 years
      – He was named ACC Coach of year once during his three seasons at Miami.
      – He was named SEC Coach of the year twice in his 15 seasons at Georgia
      – In 2017, at Miami, Richt received the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award as the Hurricanes reached No. 2 after 16 consecutive wins, clinching the ACC Coastal title for the only time in UM history (hard to believe but true).
      – In his 15 seasons at Georgia, he won two SEC Championships, something UGA hadn’t done since Vince Dooley 20 years prior. He also won six division championships.
      – Here’s the breakdown of number of wins:
      # of wins # of seasons
      13 wins 1
      12 wins 2
      11 wins 2
      10 wins 5
      9 wins 3
      8 wins 3
      7 wins 1
      6 wins 1

      – He was 10-7 in bowl games with wins over FSU (Sugar Bowl), Purdue, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Michigan State, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Louisville and West Virginia.
      – He has been successful recruiting the state of Florida and Georgia (illustrated by 93 draft picks in 18 seasons)

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