What qualities, candidates do former players want in FSU’s next coach?

The search for a new head football coach at Florida State is about 10 days old but the list of potential candidates seems to grow by the day.

That list reads like a who’s who of college football coaches past and present. Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ name has certainly been heard in connection with the job, as has former Georgia and Miami head coach Mark Richt. The list of current head coaches includes PJ Fleck (Minnesota), Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Matt Campbell (Iowa State), Mike Norvell (Memphis), Dave Clawson (Wake Forest), Matt Rhule (Baylor), Mike Leach (Washington State) and even Gus Malzhan (Auburn). Both Jeff Scott (Clemson) and Joe Brady (LSU) are two offensive coordinators whose names have been heard in connection with the opening. Heck, there was even a report last week that former FSU defensive back Deion Sanders was a candidate (although he later admitted that he had not talked to anyone at FSU).

One thing is for sure, the longer the search plays out the more names you will be hearing. The Osceola reached out to more than a dozen former FSU players to get their input on the qualities they would like to see in a head coach and if they had any preference in the search to find Willie Taggart’s replacement.

Barry Smith – Wide Receiver 1970-1972

“I’m not a big fan of speculating, so I won’t go down that road, however, what is needed, in my humble opinion, is a coach with a strong resume, one who can ‘connect’ with today’s athletes, but instills much-needed discipline. Big key is recruiting a team of assistant coaches who are creative and think outside the box.”

Marvin Jones – Linebacker 1990-1992

“There have been rumors but nothing concrete. Has to be somebody that will bring a winning history, discipline and understand how to motivate young players! If Stoops is at the top I think he’s definitely well-suited to lead the program. He seems to be dedicated to his job by spending 18 years at Oklahoma … I think Jeff Scott is definitely a great prospect with a winning background. Great at recruiting but just not a household name yet.”

Bill Ragans-Safety 1987-1990

“I would like to see Mike Leach, Mark Richt, Mark Stoops or Chris Hatcher. Mark Richt would bring the same values back to the program that were here in the Bobby Bowden era. Leach and Hatcher are proven head coaches with brilliant offensive minds. Mark Stoops is a defensive-minded guy that has done a fabulous job at a middle-tier SEC school.”

Steve Gilmer – Safety 1991-1994

“I am certainly no expert but I’d love to see a former Nole considered for the job. Both Odell Haggins and Rick Stockstill have extensive experience and have garnet blood. If we go outside the family, I would like to see someone that has a proven track record, focuses on fundamentals on and off the field and isn’t looking at the job as a stepping stone. FSU should be a destination.”

Dave Roberts – Tight End 1987-1990

“With regard to the new hire, here is how I think about it (knowing full well I may be wrong): The reality is we cannot hire ‘anybody’ we want. We cannot hire Nick Saban, we cannot hire Dabo Swinney. Similarly, there are a lot of other coaches mentioned by the media and fans as ‘candidates’ that in my opinion would be home runs, but they are really not viable candidates for various reasons including that we would not hire them, they would not take the job, they have significant buyouts, they are waiting on a ‘better’ job or price tag too high, etc. etc. In this category I would include Urban Meyer, we won’t hire; James Franklin, ain’t leaving Penn State; P.J. Fleck, just signed extension and now has a huge buyout; Bob Stoops, great but don’t see him doing it; Brent Venables, too good of a situation at Clemson; and Brian Kelly ain’t leaving Notre Dame.

“In the ‘Undoubtedly great coach, but I am just not sure for various reasons, but I would not be too upset’ category, I would put Mark Stoops, Lane Kiffin, Dave Clawson, Matt Campbell, Matt Rhule, Joe Brady.

That being opined – here are my top 5 in no particular order: Jeff Scott, Clemson Co-OC (his dad Brad recruited me and was my position coach at FSU – ties to Tally and Florida in recruiting, outstanding character, young and energetic, if it worked out he would probably be here forever, Clemson pedigree, favorable financial considerations). Mike Norvell, Memphis HC (the more I study this guy, the more I like – incredible offensive coach, head coaching experience, favorable financial considerations). Mike Leach, Washington State HC (people should take the time to learn about Mike Leach before they dismiss this notion). As Coach Spurrier has said, somebody is going to hire him one day in the SEC/ACC and it might be scary what he can do with talent that he has not had at Texas Tech and WSU. The guy is a character for sure, but what is really wrong with that – maybe we need a colorful but serious guy that promotes discipline and accountability? He is also no-nonsense when it comes to his players, which we need, and he will go down in history as one of the top innovators ever in football and is the true OG of “lethal simplicity”); Mario Christobal, HC Oregon (Florida recruiting ties are significant, has done great job at Oregon); Odell Haggins (truest Nole of all Noles – If Odell rallies the troops to three straight wins he has got to be considered – would be a stable situation for recruiting, an answer to the current financial crisis and he would presumably let Briles be Briles, which would be a good thing I believe.

Louis Berry – Punter 1983-1986

“I view FSU’s football program as an elite program and destination for every coach in the nation. For that reason, I am a Bob Stoops guy all the way. He has the cache to turn it around immediately and have elite recruits clamoring to be a part of our 2020 class. I see Bob as being able to get our program back to national prominence, and possibly winning another national championship, in a short period of time. That would also afford the opportunity to build a young, quality staff that would lead to stability in the future, something our university, students, faculty and fans deserve.”

Enzo Armella – Defensive Tackle 1992-1994

“Frankly it is my opinion that the head coach is only as good as his supporting cast or position coaches. Remember that the day to day is left up to the position coaches. … My vote goes to the coach that can inspire, motivate and lead, getting the best out of his staff.”

David Bassett – Safety 1988-1990

“PJ Fleck is my top candidate. Impressive turnarounds at Western Michigan and Minnesota, great energy level that would rival Dabo Swinney’s energy level. Need HC with longer track record of experience like PJ. My knock against him is he might not have many ties to recruiting the southeast. I like the idea of Jeff Scott but don’t think FSU is in position to take a chance on someone with no head coaching experience. I also like Bob Stoops for name recognition. He could help stabilize the program and set it up for the next rising star coach.”

Tony Yeomans – Offensive Lineman 1986-1989

“First choice would be Bob Stoops. He’s a proven commodity, turning OU around from a 5-7 team first year there. He’s a winner and can recruit. He will bring in the right coaches and players to win. Personally, I like Luke Fickell after that. Been at great programs as an assistant and has done a great job at Cincinnati. We don’t need to hire anyone that hasn’t had any successful HBC (head coaching) experience in my opinion. The last experiment didn’t go well for us.”

Matt Frier – Wide Receiver 1990-1993

“Not sure who would be the best choice. Love the names I’m hearing. Just want someone who is a winner. Strong Christian all about work ethic , discipline and integrity. That’s what we’re used to at FSU. And no pressure but we expect to win.”

Forrest Conoly – Offensive lineman 1991-1995

“Odell Haggins. He is pure blood Noles! The most Noles anybody can get. And me as an offensive analyst – I’ve been studying the game for the last 10 years as a college football color analyst.”

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