Let’s get right to the chase: Since Florida State has fired Willie Taggart, the question is obvious: With Florida State’s buyout numbers looking terrible, what can the program realistically do?
This is not a time when a large dollar amount is apparently available – at least not for any rock star-level coach. Any elite coach will expect top dollar from Florida State, and the school doesn’t have that right now.
Let’s ask the question from a different angle: Is there a way to not spend more money than the situation warrants? It isn’t an easy question to answer, given all the competing factors involved, but there is one avenue the Seminoles could consider:
Make Jim Leavitt head coach for 2020.
Tell him he is auditioning for a long-term deal.
This isn’t a perfect idea. Leavitt might not agree to it. The move invites more instability and churn on the coaching staff. I get that.
Such a move wouldn’t represent a long-term commitment to a new leader of the program. All of those weaknesses are evident, and no one needs to pretend they don’t exist.
Yet, if FSU wants to not only get free of Taggart (which it just did Sunday) AND save as much money as is realistically possible (which it has not yet done), this move would come closer to the target than most.
Anyone who follows college football in the state of Florida knows this point well: Jim Leavitt led South Florida to a No. 2 national ranking in 2007. He made mistakes which rightly kept him out of a head coaching position for roughly a decade, but he has paid his dues. And, he’s been a tremendous recruiter in Florida for three decades, too.
The thought process is that Leavitt, who is a paid “consultant” currently while still getting money from Oregon, would be grateful just to have a chance to re-enter the head coaching game, which would enable him to accept a lower level of compensation in a 2020 trial run. If he does well enough, FSU could reward him down the line… but not up front.
There are probably better ideas out there, but making an outside hire of an unproven head coach is not an example of a better idea. Hiring a retread is not a better idea, either.
If a one-year 2020 audition for Jim Leavitt is not the path Florida State chooses, it needs to select a proven high-end coach. We can focus on that part of this story in a separate article.
This much is certain: Florida State administrators and leaders have some very tough choices to make. They don’t have to make this move with Jim Leavitt, but they ought to at least consider it, especially if the people in the room aren’t convinced that a home-run hire exists.
FSU released Mike Norvell’s assistant coach’s salary info
New FSU coach Mike Norvell is full speed ahead in every aspect of his program, including finalizing his coaching staff. And, he and the athletic department are making sure that his coaches are more than competitively compensated for his first season.
The Tallahassee Democrat obtained coaching salary information for seven of the eight assistants that Norvell has agreed with. According to their reporting, seven coaches have signed a “letter of understanding” in lieu of later actual contract and it details their compensation amounts:
— Curt Weiler (@CurtMWeiler) January 24, 2020
First, Norvell agreed to a six year deal in December to take over in Tallahassee and it will average just over $4.4 million over the life of the deal. He also received an assistant pool from the school of $5.25 million.
On the breakdown, Norvell’s highest paid assistant will be defensive coordinator, Adam Fuller, who is slated to make $800,000 this season after coming to the Noless with Norvell from Memphis
Norvell will pay FSU’s new offensive coordinator, Kenny Dillingham, who was at Auburn a year ago, but was previously the offensive coordinator at Memphis with Norvell before that, $625,000. And, special teams coordinator John Papuchis will earn $550,000 this season.
The paper also learn the three other position coaches are also going to be making half a million dollars each. Interestingly, defensive line coach Odell Haggins has an existing salary a $482,000 and is being retained by Norvell. One would have to believe with the job that Haggins did, once again as the interim head coach for the final three games of the season and FSU’s bowl game, if you’ll receive some type of raise.
Receivers Coach Ron Dugans was also retained by Norvell and his compensation is slated to be $450,000 for this season, unless Norvell, chooses to give him as raise, too.
The only salary exception is defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson, who has been reportedly hired this past week, but not officially announced by the school. And, FSU obviously does not have a letter of understanding with Woodson, like the others do.
Norvell has taken over the Seminoles after leading the Memphis Tigers to their most successful season in their history at 12 – 1, including an American Conference Championship game win over Cincinnati. That earned them a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
Norvell did not return to coach that game is Penn State defeated them on New Year’s Day.
His previous salary was just over $2.5 million with incentives at Memphis.
ACC releases FSU and Miami dates for 2020 opponents
The Atlantic Coast Conference released their conference schedule for 2020 on Wednesday morning, and we now know the opponents and the order of conference games for the Seminoles and the Hurricanes.
First, for Miami. They already knew that they were opening the pre-conference schedule with Temple at home on Saturday, September 5th, and there toughest early test will likely be at Michigan State three Saturdays later.
The 2020 📅 has officially arrived!
This year's schedule features seven games at @HardRockStadium including Florida State.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 22, 2020
Miami will play their only non-Saturday ACC game six days later on a Friday night in Winston-Salem, NC, against Wake Forest.
Miami also has home games with North Carolina and then the Seminoles, which comes on November 7th. The Hurricanes will also play at Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech before finishing the season on Saturday November 28th back at home vs. Duke.
As for the Seminoles, they come off of a loaded pre-conference season where they are playing West Virginia in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend Saturday September 5th. And, they are playing at Boise State in the return game for last year’s upset loss on September 19th in Idaho.
FSU learned Wednesday, that they will open at NC State on Saturday October 3rd. The Noles and first year coach Mike Norvell, then get four time defending champion Clemson, as their second ACC opponent the following week in Tallahassee.
Then, they also host Wake Forest on October 17th. FSU’s remaining road games are at Louisville, Miami and Syracuse. The game against the Orange will be on Thursday night November 19th.
Florida State’s final ACC home game will be with Boston College on the previous Saturday, November 14th.
As part of the ACC schedule release, UCF learned that they will be playing Friday night September 4th in their home opener with North Carolina. That game to be televised nationally by ESPN.
The Knights already knew that they would be playing Georgia Tech in the pre-conference schedule on September 19th in Atlanta.
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