There are a lot of questions surrounding the "Florida State's James Coley to Miami" saga.
Currently, he is the QB coach and offensive coordinator, but does not call plays. He has one year of playcalling experience, at FIU, and their offense was one of the worst in the entire country. One can argue that it had a lot to do with FIU's lack of talent. And I think that is correct. But in no way can anyone say that the experience went well.
The hot rumor is that Miami has offered Coley the job for $500,000. That seems like a lot of money for Miami, which is notoriously cheap in paying its coaches. Florida State can easily match that amount if it so chooses. If Coley stays at Florida State, he will make more money. That much is certain. And indeed some believe this is a play to get a raise of 20%+ from Florida State.
The bigger issue is likely playcalling and control of the offense.
Coley has aspirations to be a head coach, and one can make a solid argument that his career is stagnating a bit in Tallahassee. Granted, he is making a lot of money, but stagnation is stagnation.
In Miami, he would be able to run his offense (though I have some questions about how this would go, given Al Golden's seeming want to be very pro-style, and Coley's believed preference to be more wide open and up tempo).
Some believe that Fisher has told Coley that he will turn the offense over to him. Everyone remember the famous five-year plan quip that Fisher let loose during a press conference. (As an aside, I don't think Fisher thought his comments through, and it seemed like he was making it up as he went).
If Fisher is to be a man of his word and stick with his five-year plan, that would mean turning the offense over to Coley for 2013 or 2014.
If this promise has indeed been made, there is a question of whether Coley actually believes it. And I think that speaks to their working relationship.
Jimbo Fisher, like many coaches, can be difficult to work under, and Coley may have real reasons to believe that Fisher would not follow through on his word, or more likely, that he would not give Coley as much control as he wants. It's no secret that Coley has been frustrated at times with what he perceives as a deviation from the gameplan he and Fisher put together during the week.
I also think that if Coley is to be the guy, it needs to be in 2013. Coley and Fisher have been together for more than enough time for Fisher to determine if Coley is qualified to be the offensive coordinator.
Should Fisher give Coley control of the offense? I am not sure.
Coley doesn't have much experience with it, but that doesn't bother me much (see: new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt).
The greater issue to me is stylistic differences. If Fisher is to truly hand off the offense, I suspect he would be more comfortable doing so (in a manner that might actually work) to someone with a more similar offensive philosophy. I think Fisher believes some of the collegiate game is gimmicky, and arrogantly sees himself as being above that. That probably won't change if Coley is given control, and it makes me wonder if Coley calling plays is a recipe for success (similar sentiments would also be in play at Miami).
Another aspect is recruiting. Coley is a very good recruiter in South Florida and in New Jersey. He would be a big help to Miami's recruiting efforts in South Florida, which have suffered in recent years for a number of reasons. That would also hurt Florida State's recruiting efforts in South Florida.
But it would be pretty dumb of Fisher to be strong-armed into turning the offense over to Coley simply because he's a good recruiter. If Fisher is to turn it over to Coley, it has to be because he truly believes their differences are not too great, and that Coley can succeed.
There's also the family aspect to this. Coley is a Miami guy through and through. Despite being a Florida State graduate, he may want to move his wife and two kids back to South Florida. Both sides have family in South Florida. I'm not sure how much credence I put into this line of thinking, given that his head coaching aspirations would quickly take him out of South Florida should he succeed at Miami, but the rumor is prevalent.
I also wonder how much the hire of Billy Napier, formerly the offensive coordinator at Clemson, plays into this. There's a line of thought that Fisher knows he gets too pass happy at times and would like a more run-oriented offensive coordinator to make sure FSU stays dedicated to the run. Watching Alabama win the national title and losing to Florida may have only hardened these beliefs.
I think Fisher's willingness to turn the offense over to Coley, and Coley's belief in that promise, will say a lot.
If I were Coley, I think I would go.
It also wouldn't surprise me if Coley leaves and Fisher announces that Napier will become the OC in 2014 (year five of the five-year plan).
Ultimately, this Coley thing is likely to have a greater impact on the perception of Fisher and his future at Florida State, than it will on the field. Fisher's offense was easily one of the 25 best in the country, but that's clear under-performance relative to talent level. The offense has not performed at the same level as it did when he was just the coordinator and not the head coach (sometimes justifiably so due to ridiculous injury luck, and other times not) and will, combined with his failure to treat FSU power players with common decency, eventually get him fired if it doesn't improve.