Tokarz gave up on-field job, patient in waiting for ‘dream job’ at FSU

Tony Tokarz bet on himself — and Mike Norvell. 

Tokarz left Memphis and a full-time, on-field assistant coaching job to follow Norvell to Tallahassee as an analyst. That’s quite the pay cut for two full years but also one he felt would pay off down the road.

“It was a no brainer,” Tokarz said Monday morning in an interview with the media. “To be honest with you some people thought I was crazy for leaving an on-the-field job. You work so hard for so many years to get there. But that’s not the end goal. To work with a man that I believe his vision of the things that he believes in, our program values. Having been a part of it before and knowing what he can accomplish here, what we can accomplish together, that was a no brainer. And then to come to a place like Florida State, a lot of people are going to call it a dream job. It is a dream job. It’s a job that requires a lot of work but everybody’s seen what Florida State is capable of. And so it’s our goal still to keep pushing in that direction. But like I said it was a no brainer. It really was, just the caliber of person and man that he is. The easy part is the football stuff. The guy’s a genius when it comes to offensive football and building the culture. And that’s what we’re doing here. We laid that foundation the last few years so I’m excited to see where it goes.”

Tokarz spent three seasons at Memphis, first as a graduate assistant in 2017 and ’18 and then as tight ends coach in 2019. He was a quarterback at Worcester (Mass.) State, earning all-conference honors as a senior in 2011 before beginning his coaching career the next season at Anna Maria College.

At FSU, Tokarz has worked with Norvell as well as offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham. When Dillingham took the same job at Oregon, Norvell moved quickly to elevate Alex Atkins into the dual role of offensive coordinator / offensive line coach and also make Tokarz the quarterbacks coach.

“Being an analyst is a little bit different,” Tokarz said. “Obviously, I guess you can’t coach, per se, the players. I’m not involved in that. My job was to make sure that coach Dillingham was the best quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in the country and to make coach Norvell the best head coach in the country. So my relationship with our guys, I’m kind of that second gear, that one that they come to talk to or I guess the away from football stuff if that makes sense. It’s really about building trust with those guys and then that trust carries over to on the field really. Because if they trust you off and field, if they know that you have their best interest in mind, the football stuff just falls into place.”

Tokarz’s familiarity with the offense, the quarterback room and FSU made him a good choice in Norvell’s view. He already has a built-in relationship with Jordan Travis and Tate Rodemaker, while Tokarz has met signee A.J. Duffy.

“I’m obviously really excited to get to work with this position,” Tokarz said. “It’s a position that everybody knows is critical to a successful football team. Here at Florida State we’re gonna play quarterback the way that I know quarterback should be played and that’s with passion, that’s with detail, that’s with focus. And all those things that make a good quarterback, that makes a team go. That makes a program go. So the guys that we have in our room. All those guys show those traits, and we’re going to continue to build and develop off those, but I’m excited. I’m fired up and I’m ready to get to work.”

And Tokarz’s promotion also was the second elevation of an analyst this offseason. Randy Shannon was a defensive analyst for FSU in 2011 but takes over as linebackers coach as well as co-defensive coordinator.

This story will be updated with more quotes from Tokarz’s interview with the media on Monday