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Florida State Seminoles

FSU apparently hiring Kendal Briles as OC casts shadow for Noles

Matt Zemek



USA Today Sports

It’s a “feel-good Christmas story.”

The son of a man who presided over one of the worst, most pervasive, most appalling sexual assault scandals in recent times — a massive scandal on its own terms, whether in the realm of college sports or not — moved up the ladder to get the open offensive coordinator job at Florida State.

That is the report, anyway, from multiple sources on Saturday night:

Kendal Briles, as public speaker, educator and activist Brenda Tracy has noted, has never taken ownership for his role in what happened under Art Briles’ watch at Baylor, as a member of his father’s coaching staff. This is a big reason why Tracy has not been shy about speaking out about the need for schools to avoid hiring Kendal as an offensive coordinator:

The added backdrop to this situation is that even when Florida State was winning big — in 2013, when it captured the ACC title and then the national championship — a sexual assault allegation toward Jameis Winston placed a cloud over the Seminoles’ unbeaten season. Subsequent behavioral incidents at FSU and then in the NFL have not improved Winston’s overall reputation, which doesn’t reflect well on Florida State.

Yes, FSU needs an elite offensive coordinator, not someone learning on the job as Walt Bell seemed to be doing in 2018. The real question for Florida State, and Tennessee (which was also rumored to have been in the Kendal Briles search) is this: “Can you find an elite offensive coordinator other than Kendal Briles?”

The real answer: “If you do your homework, yes — you should be able to find someone.” Is it a total piece of cake? Maybe not… but any school should be able to find a good option, either someone unemployed or someone who wants to make an upward move. A school in Florida State’s position should be especially aware of the need — and public relations value — to not hire the son of Art Briles to its coaching staff, in such a prominent position. (Offensive analyst is one thing; offensive coordinator is quite another.)

If I — as with anyone else writing about how bad this Briles hire is — put forth the claim that good options are available, I obviously have to mention a few names.

Matt Canada, no longer the offensive coordinator at Maryland due to the changes on that coaching staff. He would be a top target.

Larry Fedora is looking for work and would represent a highly qualified play-caller after being fired as the head coach at North Carolina. He would be a top target.

Rhett Lashlee worked under Gus Malzahn at Auburn and coached against the Seminoles in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game. You could reasonably say that he hasn’t done great at Connecticut and SMU since leaving Auburn… but that’s UConn and SMU. Lashlee has coached in massive games and done well in them. He would not need Walt Bell-style training wheels. If FSU whiffed on Canada or Fedora, this would be a fallback plan.

Another fallback plan: Doug Meacham, a veteran assistant coach who helped get the most out of Trevone Boykin at TCU a few years ago. Meacham struggled at Kansas, much as Lashlee struggled at UConn and SMU… but again, he would have quality talent to work with in Tallahassee.

That’s two really good Plan As and two decent Plan Bs.

Florida State didn’t need to hire a member of the Briles family.

Is Kendal Briles a good X-and-O man? Yes. Should he upgrade the offense? Yes.

This isn’t about football acumen, though. This is about being able to hire a quality offensive coordinator without traveling the grimy, uncomfortable route.

This doesn’t make Florida State unique among football schools. This doesn’t make FSU an initiator or creator of a problem. It does, however, represent a failure by Florida State to become more of the solution and more of a positive voice in the sport.

Merry Christmas. Don’t file away this story in the catalog of feel-good Hallmark holiday movies.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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