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Florida State Seminoles

Zemek- FSU shouldn’t “settle” for next coach

Matt Zemek



Rob Ferguson- USA Today Sports

On Monday, I put forth the idea that if Florida State doesn’t have a clear home-run coaching hire to make after firing Willie Taggart, FSU shouldn’t think it has to select a permanent replacement.

Florida State could give Jim Leavitt the 2020 season – at a bargain rate, with no large buyout and no massive up-front commitments of money – as an audition for the permanent job in 2021 and beyond. Leavitt would get a chance to prove whether he is the right man for the job.

If he whipped the 2020 Seminoles into shape, give him the keys for the next few years and THEN pay him more money.

Florida State could save some money next year, so that it could either compensate Leavitt generously if he succeeds, or offer big money to a replacement for 2021 if Leavitt fails next year. Florida State would use a one-year bridge plan to gather options and achieve some cost savings.

Here is the counterpoint: Florida State needs a home-run coach sooner rather than later. It needs a strong, prepared figure to take hold of this program and build it back.

I don’t disagree that if FSU has a home-run coach, it should hire him and ditch the Leavitt bridge plan.

However: IS there a home-run coach who will come to Tallahassee at this time, under these circumstances?

Will Brent Venables leave Clemson for the Tigers’ foremost (long-term, not 2019) competitor in the ACC Atlantic Division? I doubt it.

If Venables is willing to come, I think his body of work – the quality of the work itself, but also how consistent Venables has been this decade – makes him a home-run choice. Yet, would he coach for a Clemson rival? Is FSU truly the job he has been waiting for? Color me skeptical.

Is Matt Rhule, who made a profound commitment to Baylor when the program was depleted, going to leave Waco for Tallahassee? Maybe… but why would Rhule (above) go to Baylor, under terrible circumstances, but be currently unbeaten and then leave before he had enough time to lift the Bears to the top of the conference?

Let’s assume Oklahoma beats Baylor later this month. Would Rhule leave behind unfinished business, or would he try to conquer Lincoln Riley in future seasons?

I see Venables and Rhule as the two best coaches Florida State could reasonably get.

Should Florida State force those coaches to say no? Absolutely Administrators in charge of the coaching search have to make sure the best candidates turn them down.

This is where the coaching search becomes especially fascinating… and tricky.

Does FSU really want to gamble on P.J. Fleck? Minnesota has to play Penn State, then Iowa and Wisconsin, in November. Minnesota hasn’t played Michigan or Ohio State this season. The Golden Gophers do not have high-end wins.

If you really are interested in a home-run hire, don’t you want a coach with home-run wins? Fleck could be great, but is he at that top-tier level befitting a home-run coach? Not yet. Beat Penn State and Wisconsin first. Then, we can revisit this discussion.

Gus Malzahn? Gus at his best is brilliant, but Auburn fans could tell you that “Good Gus” occasionally appears. He doesn’t show up every season. Florida State can and should do better.

I could mention several other names, but I don’t feel I need to. Here is the bottom line: If FSU is turned down by the home-run coaches on the board, it can’t settle for a double.

If FSU can’t land a home-run coach, that is precisely why the Leavitt one-year bridge plan makes sense, in addition to the cost-savings angle.

Let’s say Baylor loses to Oklahoma and Texas this November. The Bears finish their season 10-2, but still a notch below the big boys in the Big 12. The Leavitt one-year bridge plan enables FSU to evaluate Rhule in 2020. Maybe he manages to beat OU and/or Texas and win the Big 12.

Then, FSU could hire him if Leavitt’s performance elicits significant doubts.

Apply the same method to Fleck at Minnesota. Maybe he won’t beat Penn State or Wisconsin this year, but he figures it out in 2020. Then you can hire him with more of an assurance that he can maximize talent.

In conclusion, the Leavitt one-year bridge plan is not being presented as the only plan, or the obvious plan. My emphasis is that a one-year bridge plan is better than hiring a coach one cannot be sure of.

It is better for Florida State, at the end of 2019, to use a one-year bridge plan than to hire a coach it thinks MIGHT be able to do a great job, but whose credentials don’t make him a stone-cold certainty to win big in Tallahassee.

The last coach Florida State hired fit that description. His name was Willie Taggart.

If you fire Taggart, you can’t replace him with someone similar.

If you can get Brent Venables or, someone like Rhule or Fleck, who proven themselves by winning at multiple programs, by all means do so.

If you CAN’T, a bridge plan easily beats a coach you’re not completely sure about.

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.

Florida State Seminoles

FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In an effort to continue to beef up their out-of-conference schedules, FSU announced on Tuesday that they will play newly-crowned National Champion, LSU in two neutral site games coming soon in 2022 and 2023.

The Seminoles made the announcement through social media and their website that they will be playing the “Bayou Bengals” first in New Orleans and then, in Orlando:

Both teams will be given the benefit of essentially a “home-away-from-home neutral-site game” on Labor Day weekend. LSU considers New Orleans to be their second home and just won the College Football Playoff National Championship game over Clemson there on January 12.

The first game with the Noles will be on Saturday night September 4th, 2022.

FSU will, then play “hosts” in Orlando against the Tigers the following year on Saturday night September 3rd. The Noles recently played a season-opening game with Ole Miss, whom they defeated, at Camping World Stadium in 2016.

New Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell had this to say in the school statement about adding the games coming soon,

“I’m excited about this series,” head coach Mike Norvell said. “Florida State has a rich tradition in Louisiana, the home of many former Seminoles including Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor, and all three of our national championship teams had at least one player from Louisiana. It continues to be an important area for us now. We added two players from Louisiana in our first signing class, and it will be great for them and other future Noles to be able to play back in their home state.

This series matches two of the iconic brands in college football, and I know our fans will have a great time in New Orleans and Orlando. I want to thank our administration for all their hard work on this and for continuing to pursue first-class experiences for our student-athletes.”

These will be the 10th and 11th times that Florida State and LSU will meet. The Noles hold a 7 – 2 advantage, including winning four straight games in the series. It is the first time the two schools will have played since 1991.

Further, Florida State is 9 – 2 in their last 11 games opening a season on a neutral field. The Seminoles were to have played Boise State in Jacksonville last Labor Day weekend, but the threat of Hurricane Dorian moved the game to Tallahasse.

That’s where the Broncos upset the Seminoles and sent coach Willie Taggart into a second year spiral that resulted in his firing in November.

The Noles are also 8 – 2 all-time in games  at the Superdome with the most prominent one coming in the BCS Championship Game win over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.

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Florida State Seminoles

Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes

Florida Football Insiders



Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Hall of Famer and former Seminoles All-American defensive back Deion Sanders is making the rounds for broadcast outlets at Super Bowl 54 in Miami,. And it’s not just his NFL Network duties that made some news on Tuesday. Rather, it’s an interview, where he expressed more desire for coaching college football and maybe, even in the city where he currently is working this week.

Sanders appeared on The Dan Patrick television – radio show Tuesday in advance of the 49ers and the Chiefs meeting for pro football’s title at Hard Rock stadium Sunday night.

And, while most of the interview centered around the NFL and the Super Bowl match-up, Patrick naturally turned to Deion’s desire to apparently be a head coach in college football and maybe, as soon as next year.

This subject came up after Sanders was apparently under consideration to possibly be the new head coach at FSU, when they fired Willie Taggart in early November. The school and AD David Coburn did confirm that they had a serious formal discussion with “Prime Time” about building a staff, etc.

That’s when Patrick turn the questioning to Sanders’ son and what might test his loyalty to FSU and possibly, coaching at a hated-rival like the University of Miami.

“What if ‘The U’ called?” Patrick asked.

“You know what is so funny, cuz I saw that when I was watching you on television (earlier in the day when Patrick said he would ask Sanders about Miami). My son is a phenomenal quarterback. My youngest son. He has a plethora of offers. We’re going to visit ‘The U’ on Saturday,” Sanders said.

“But would you coach the U?,” Patrick quickly asked again.

“You know what. You never know,” Sanders replied leaving the door open, like most do.

“Are you a ‘package deal’ with your son,” asked Patrick?

“I’ve never been a package deal with any-body,” Sanders shot back, which drew laughter from the studio audience at Patrick’s Super Bowl show site.

Now, the Hurricanes have obviously floundered for much of the 2010s, including 2019 with first-year coach Manny Diaz struggling mightily down the stretch of his first season. Miami lost it’s final two games to finish 6 – 6, and then, were shutout humiliatingly by Louisiana Tech 14 – 0 in the Independence Bowl.

Miami has swapped offensive coordinators after Diaz fired Dan Enos after just his first season. The Canes have hired former Auburn and SMU play-caller Rhett Lashlee to replace him. And, they secured Houston dual threat transfer QB D’Eriq King for this season.

Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State (1987, ’88), and won the Jim Thorpe Award during his final season playing for the Seminoles in 1988. He was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played in the NFL through the 2005 season.

His elite level of play earned him inductions into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sanders has been analyst for the NFL Network for the past 10 years and clearly has the desire to try something else.

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