We continue our look at candidates for the vacant Florida State defensive coordinator position.
If you follow Florida State football closely, you known who Darin "D.J." Eliot is. If you don't, let's have a quick recap.
Eliot is Florida State's defensive ends coach. He is 36, and in his 14th season coaching college football. At Florida State, his defensive ends have been excellent. They showed immediate improvement upon his hire, though that was to be expected as the previous coach was an unqualified Bowden cronie.
But coaching has not been the only thing he has excelled at. Eliot has also been an excellent recruiter. That really shouldn't that surprising, as Eliot is a young, good looking, personable coach.
Now, those of us in the media are not allowed to talk with assistants per Jimbo Fisher's policy, but those who have spoken with Eliot agree that he is a very bright coach and a rising star in the coaching ranks.
The question, though is whether Eliot should be considered for Florida State's defensive coordinator position.
On its face, the answer is no.
Florida State's defensive coordinator job is one of the best in all of college football. It pays well ($600K), and offers the opportunity to coach future NFL athletes against what is often fairly average competition in the ACC. That means the numbers put up are going to be ridiculous (see consecutive top-five defenses under Stoops). And with numbers like that, it's really easy to use the FSU DC job as a launching pad for a head coaching position.
Eliot has no experience as a defensive coordinator whatsoever. Granted, playcalling on the defensive side of the ball is not incredibly important, but running and designing a defense certainly is.
If Eliot was a coach at another school, there is no way he would be considered for the defensive coordinator position given his lack of experience. Fisher would be ripped for hiring someone with Eliot's qualifications.
But that's not the case, because Eliot is at Florida State. Jimbo Fisher would have had the opportunity to work closely with Eliot on a daily basis. The pair has no doubt had conversations about what sort of defense Eliot would want to run, given the opportunity. Fisher is in a good position to determine if Eliot could run his own defense, and if that defense jives with what Fisher is looking for in a unit.
As for what that defensive style would be, I really have no idea. It is safe to assume that Fisher won't hire someone with whom he has major philosophical differences.
It is worth noting that while Eliot is the defensive ends coach, he has done more than that. Eliot was a linebacker in college, and has plenty of experience coaching defensive backs. That's really important, because guys who are defensive-line centric don't usually get hired as coordinators, because of their lack of understanding and experience with coverages.
If Jimbo Fisher really likes what Eliot plans to bring as a defensive coordinator, I cannot completely dismiss the possibility of the move happening. Eliot is a rising star in the business and an ace recruiter. Florida State obviously wants to keep him, if it can. Other schools will soon come calling with defensive coordinator jobs, though not as good as Florida State's, that will offer a raise and a chance to further his career.
This is the sort of move that I can see working out, but it is considerably riskier than many other candidates, and if it were to fail, Fisher would come under enormous scrutiny because of the quality of candidate the job can attract. You don't make this hire to save a few recruits. If done, the hire must be made out of a sincere belief that Eliot can immediately do an excellent job of coordinating defense.