Florida State is strongly considering hiring Mike Johnson as its next quarterback coach, Tomahawk Nation sources have recently learned. We also know that Johnson was not Florida State's first choice (he was unemployed and could have been hired weeks ago), but coaches aren't exactly beating down the door to work for Jimbo Fisher these days.
Earlier this morning, we tweeted out two names. Everyone seems to want to know more about Johnson.
Two popular names for FSU's vacant offensive coaching job are Mike Johnson and Tee Martin. Interested to see how this plays out.— TomahawkNation.com (@TomahawkNation) February 13, 2013
So what do we know about Johnson?
Johnson will be 46 during the 2013 football season. He is originally from Los Angeles. Johnson played quarterback for Arizona State, Mesa Community College and finally finished at Akron. He played professionally for five seasons, though none in the NFL.
Johnson's coaching career spans 15 seasons. He has coached quarterbacks and wide receivers, both in the NFL and in college. Most of his coaching career, and all of his college coaching career has been on the West Coast. Notably, he was Michael Vick's quarterback coach in Atlanta. Recently, Johnson was the 49ers' OC in 2010, and OC of UCLA in 2011. UCLA's staff was fired following the 2011 season, and Johnson did not work in 2012. The reason Johnson did not work in 2012 is unknown. His offenses with the 49ers and the Bruins were not good, and this hire is not going to excite many.
Another unknown is whether Fisher intends to make Johnson the offensive coordinator, and if so, in 2013 or 2014.
Fisher recently stated that his offense runs through the quarterback, and that he wants his offensive coordinator to see the game through the quarterback's eyes. This was, according to Fisher, one of the reasons why he moved James Coley to quarterback coach, with the intention (again, according to Fisher, someone who has been known to mislead the media) of eventually making Coley the playcaller once he understood the game through the eyes of the QB.
Other offensive coaches including Randy Sanders and Billy Napier both have experience at offensive coordinator as well, and could be considered for the OC job at some point, though Fisher's comments on seeing the game through the eyes of the quarterback suggests that he wants his QB coach to eventually become the offensive coordinator.
There's also this issue of Fisher being a micro-manager of epic proportions, and the question of whether he would actually let any coach, other than himself, truly coach the quarterbacks. Fisher has an excellent track record with quarterbacks, despite the sentiment that he failed to get the most out of outgoing FSU QB E.J. Manuel.
Johnson also brings another minority voice to the coaching staff, which from 2010-2012 had three minority coaches (Dawsey, Haggins and Craig). If Johnson is indeed the choice, FSU would again have three minority coaches (Dawsey, Haggins and Johnson).
There's also the question of recruiting. Johnson will be 46, which isn't exactly young in the college coaching game. But it's also not old, either. What area will Johnson recruit? Does he address the need for a South Florida recruiter, created by the departure of coaches Eddie Gran and James Coley?
We'll go through some of Johnson's work at UCLA and San Francisco if he is indeed the hire, but remember, Johnson isn't bringing his system to FSU. If hired, and if named the offensive coordinator, he'll be asked to run Jimbo Fisher's system, which was quite successful before Fisher tried to juggle the duties of being a head coach and offensive coordinator, along with overseer of all recruiting, head fundraiser and leader of a bunch of things that are taken for granted at richer, more established football programs.