Head Coach Jimbo Fisher realizes he is all alone at the top of the state, for now. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
So UF has finally done what it should have done last season-- accept Urban Meyer's resignation. How could Florida accept that he would be cutting back his hours and hiring sub-par coaches to replace elite assistants? It seems UF finally laid down the law and told Urban that he better get with the program and bring in a staff that didn't come from the MAC (that's a football conference) and get back to working the hours that made them national champions. I won't here, but I can make you a compelling argument that UF is the best job in the country. They can demand almost anything they want, and they can certainly demand a coach not be wishy-washy about coaching. No big-time program should put up with a coach who is anything but 100% committed to winning.
Now that it has happened, let's look at the implications for the 'Noles.
For Florida State, this is not good news on the whole. Why? UF's football program was in chaos. Anyone who was on the sideline for the UF game saw coaches and players arguing and the general dysfunction of a staff in over its head. Those who followed the program closely saw recruiting slipping a bit. And Meyer was in some measure exposed as being more salesman than coach by Ingram Smith in a series of articles.
Florida's coaching staff is going to get a whole lot better in a hurry, and that's not a good thing for the 'Noles. FSU fans should not be cheering this move, they should be coming to the realization that their biggest rival is really intent on playing big-boy football each and every year. While this was likely inevitable, FSU would have preferred Meyer stuck around another season.
I am not going to say that UF will now have a better staff than the 'Noles. I have no reason to believe that. But I do know that Florida State's staff was worlds better than what occupied the sidelines in Gainesville this season, and if FSU's staff is indeed still better next season, it won't be better by that large of a margin.
While I don't know who Florida will peg to be its new coach, I am fairly confident that none of Florida State's coaches will be moving down I-10 to Gainesville. Without tracing every possible connection, it doesn't seem like any of FSU's staff has run in the same circles as Bob Stoops, Dan Mullen, Bobby Petrino, Chris Petersen, Jim Harbaugh, etc. If UF is going to get better, at least it's not getting better at Florida State's expense.
But while this definitely isn't good news for Florida State or the SEC on the whole, it may be in the immediate term due to recruiting. And here, the impact will be more indirect than direct. While UF will have a better coaching staff in short order, that coaching staff won't have forged the relationships with these kids that Meyer's staff did.
The two current Gator commitments who are potential 'Noles are defensive backs De'Ante "Pop" Saunders and Nick Waisome. FSU recruited both intensely and FSU was the bridemaid for both. We will see how much they love UF and how much they loved Meyer.
Of Florida's commitments, FSU doesn't need Johnson, Showers, Christy, Butron, Shazier (Ohio State was at Plantation when the news broke that Meyer was retiring. Florida commit Ryan Shazier was stunned. Talk about timing! He decided to visit OSU next weekend.), Hounshell, Jordan, Blakely, Joyer, Leonard, McRoy, Leonard or Story. The 'Noles would likely take Purifoy, Thurman, and Driskel, but there is no interest on their part. But they could easily jump to other teams. Bama may steal Purifoy and Leonard. A few of the out-of-state kids may stay closer to home. Blakely may jump to Auburn.
That FSU only desires two of UF's seventeen commitments really says something about the major recruiting battles already won by the 'Noles in this cycle. People only steal what they want or need. And FSU simply doesn't need much from UF's recruiting class.
But this is about more than just current UF commitments. There are a lot of targets whom UF is currently pursuing who are not as likely to end up in Gainesville as once thought. For instance, Miami commitment Anthony Chickillo:
@EddieHometeam #Tampa Alonso DE Anthony Chickillo says he will not make official visit to #Gators this week & might not altogether.
or Josue Matias
New Jersey OT Josue Matias tells me he had a great visit today with #FSU coach James Coley. Canceled his OV to #UF.
That's to say nothing of WR Kelvin Benjamin (for whom FSU already leads) or DT Tim Jernigan, who was very close to Meyer.
Recruiting impact may be bigger with 2012 kids than 2011 kids, due to the ability to go out and meet them and make that first impression. Just as FSU did last Winter when UF didn't have a head coach and UF's staff wasn't together nor organized. UF's recruiting won't fall apart like Miami's. It just won't be as good this year as it has in the past half-decade.
But FSU could only be so lucky if UF were to make a quick hire just to save recruiting. That would be the worst course of action for UF and the best for the 'Noles. UF doesn't need a massive infusion of talent. It has plenty on hand. Any recruiting lapse this year won't be felt on the field for two years anyway. At that point we'll take a look at how the new guy recruits.
There has also been a lot of talk about UF players transferring. FSU will not directly benefit from transfers as UF will block any transfer to Tallahassee, but anything that hurts UF and doesn't hurt FSU is good for the 'Noles. UF must re-recruit the freshmen who are wavering. People around the Gator program already expect at least three current Gators to transfer.
Perhaps the most revealing thing about this whole situation is the contrast between FSU's two biggest rivals: Florida and Miami. Florida is clearly committed to the highest level, as is Florida State. Miami, plays its Spring game at a high school. Florida is arguably the top job in the country. Miami is a fringe top-twenty job with its lack of funds, lack of facilities, and its academic restrictions on which recruits it will take. Two schools in the state are showing both the ability and the commitment to win at the highest level. Miami isn't one of those schools. In fact, as a program, Miami is closer to USF and UCF than it is to Florida State or Florida. Watch as the coaching searches at both schools continue to unfold. UF is bringing in A-list candidates. Meanwhile, B-list candidates are a long shot to come to Coral Gables:
Among the coaches who have spoken to UM about the job are Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, Connecticut coach Randy Edsall and Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville. According to a UM source, Hocutt also plans to speak with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini,
who was granted permission by Nebraska to pursue the job. According to another source, Pelini has shown mixed signals, at some points expressing interest and at other points conveying reservations.That Pelini part has been refuted by Nebraska. Pelini does not have permission.
Remember that Miami also spoke to Jon Gruden.
But with UF, Nole fans, you knew this was coming. UF has way too many resources to put up with even average coaching for long. Get ready for some awesome battles between two programs clearly distancing themselves from the pack.
I'll have much more on the coaching searches of both Florida and Miami in the coming weeks.