Re-energized by the successful restoration of a program he has guided to multiple NCAA titles, Florida State track & field coach Bob Braman is ready to build on the Seminoles’ formidable legacy of success.
With Braman’s signature still fresh on a five-year contract extension, which will carry him through the 2024 outdoor track & field season, he believes the Noles are positioned to replicate or improve on the run they enjoyed between 2005 and 2012.
That eight-year stretch saw the Florida State men bring home three consecutive NCAA Outdoor Championship trophies, a pair of runner-up finishes, five top-five NCAA Indoor finishes and claim 14 of 16 ACC titles between the two seasons. In the same span the women produced five top-10 NCAA finishes, finishing outside the top 20 just three times in 16 opportunities, while becoming an ACC force, highlighted by their 2008-09 Triple Crown.
“We’ve worked really hard in the last five years to get back to where we think we belong,” Braman said. “You feel like we had established ourselves on both sides as a top-10 program…The next five years, hopefully it’s a continuation of that [previous run] and even hitting levels that we’ve never hit before.
“The fun part starts now. I sure as heck didn’t want to sign on for one year and see somebody else have all the fun. With our super elite athletes, we’re set up for at least two years. We’ve got projected national scorers and returning All-Americans back and very few of them are seniors.”
Naturally, he was happy that director of athletics David Coburn shared in his vision.
“Bob has done an outstanding job with our track & field program,” Coburn said. “I’m pleased that he will continue to lead our programs, which are perennial contenders for ACC Championships as well as NCAA Championships.”
Over the past two years the FSU men have won three of four ACC titles between the indoor and outdoor seasons and finished sixth at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships, while the women have won a pair of ACC titles and were 10th at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Those came on the heels of a difficult three-year stretch, as Braman retooled the coaching staff.
“We have a really good staff right now,” Braman said. “That’s really exciting. They’re young enough that they’re super energized and hungry, and old enough that they’re experienced and have coached national champions and All-Americans. And our peripheral staff – support services, supervisory groups, grad assistants and OPS folks are really good right now. It’s an enviable position for anyone to be sitting where I’m going to be for the next five years.”
Braman is thankful that his contract extension provides some security for the staff, which counts former Noles Dorian Scott and Rick Argro, as well as Kelly Phillips, Keith Herston and newcomer Matt Kane among the full-time coaches.
“Ricky and Dorian are decorated alums,” Braman said. “They’ve all been here a while, where their wives have jobs and they have roots down. Keith bought a home and got married. Matt Kane has a couple elementary school-aged kids. The same thing with Kelly. She has her own contract [as women’s cross country head coach] with a few years remaining, but she’s got a son on the team, so she’s got roots down, too.
“It is important for them so they can continue to build their careers; winning team championships and individual championships. That’s the big thing. We have two, or three [national championships], depending on how you count them. And we’ve got about five runner-up finishes on the men’s side. We’d like to get those runner-up numbers up to the championship numbers and really put down some historical things. There really aren’t a lot of programs where they’ve got 5-6-7-8 championships…We’d like to put our name on a historical run and I think we’re back on track to get that.”
At 61, Braman still has a lot he would like to accomplish at the helm of the Noles. His new deal assures he will be in place when the NCAA Cross Country Championships come to town in 2021 to complete at Apalachee Regional Park, on a course he conceived and initially cut by hand before Leon County turned it into a national showplace.
“I’m 61 years old and I’m energized by the fact that we’re good again,” he said. “Health permitting, which right now is very good, I feel like the five years is an easy commitment. There’s no burnout in sight. I don’t have hobbies that I look forward to doing and I don’t have grandkids. Those are the factors that might change your mind.”
Braman has already authored quite a career with the Noles. In 27 years of ACC membership, Florida State has won 50 men’s conference titles and 42 women’s conference titles. Braman is responsible for 21 of those on the men’s side – more than any Seminoles coach – and seven more on the women’s side. Those 28 combined ACC titles rank fourth among all coaches in conference history, trailing only NC State’s Rollie Geiger (40), Maryland legend Jim Kehoe (38) and North Carolina’s Dennis Craddock (32).
He is the only ACC coach to lead a men’s track & field team to an NCAA team title. Along the way the three-time National Coach of the Year has won 24 ACC Coach of the Year and 17 South Region Coach of the Year honors.
“I’m really grateful for Director Coburn’s support of our program and willingness to give me a contract for five years,” Braman said. “It was never about the money. It was more about the years and the continuity for the program. It takes a long time for any coach to be identified with a program, and I’m not done yet.”