Looking Down the Road

I'd like to preface this by saying: I'm not giving up on Norvell by any means, but the start of his career at FSU is... lackluster... to put it kindly. The most recent opinion article diving into why patience is needed with the program hit the nail on the head. We cannot rush into firing Norvell like we did Taggart because the repercussions from doing that would be CFB program suicide. However, that article sparked a conversation I thought I would theorize on... What could be our options 3 or 4 seasons down the road if we choose to part ways with Norvell?

After the Louisville game Norvell's overall record currently sits at 3-10. Let's be honest, under different circumstances, we would probably be ready to move on from him by the next off season. But due to the roster issues, cost, and the aforementioned dropout that would come from firing 2 coaches in 4 seasons, it is in our best interest to let him make it through 4-5 years of his 6 year contract.

Now... before we jump into the hypotheticals of a few years from now, let's be realistic about where we are currently. Our roster is low-tier levels of bad. And I'm not talking about low-tier ACC, I mean in all of P5. There was optimism about this team after ND, and I think the roster showed it's potential. However, the JSU and Wake games showed the world what this team is. Young, inexperienced, lacks leadership, no veterans, poorly developed... I could go on but I think you get it. There are a few pieces there, but if this roster was a 100-piece puzzle, it's only 45-50% complete.

Regardless of the financial situation, I think it's only fair for us to give Norvell another 3ish years of recruiting and developing before we really sit down and be critical about how we're playing on the field. At the moment, Norvell is being asked to race in the Indy500 with a station-wagon. He needs the time to build and develop a roster that's capable of competing with P5 programs.

Okay - with all of that being said... let's get crazy.

HYPOTHETICAL - Let's say after the 2024 season, FSU decides to part ways with Norvell. By this time, he would have brought in 4.5 recruiting classes (the 0.5 referring to the transition class). And let's assume he's done enough to build a roster of decent talent and depth.

Who is out there that could take what Norvell built and potentially take it to the next level? And would that coach be available for the taking? Here are 5 names that come to mind if it comes to that:

Gus Malzahn

Here's a coach we should all be familiar with. Malzahn took over for Auburn after they fired Gene Chizik in 2013. During his time there he went 65-35. Of his 7 years, 5 of them ended with a top 25 ranking, 2 of which were top 10. Only 2 of his recruiting classes were outside of the top 10.

Current status: Head Coach of UCF.

Availability: Unlikely

I would imagine between now and 2024 that a P5 school will try to grab him while he's available. He may have done so-so at Auburn, but I consider him a "tier 2" level coach. You don't recruit at a high level and win 66% of your games in the SEC West for 8 years by getting lucky. He knows his stuff and could do well here given the resources.

Luke Fickell

I put Luke into the same category as Mike Norvell. Plenty of years of experience at the P5 level at a coordinator or support staff position, but when it comes to head coaching his only experience, outside of interim head coach at OSU, is at the G5 level at Cincinnati. He's gone 31-6 the past three seasons, though, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Current status: Head Coach of Cincinnati.

Availability: More unlikely than possible.

Fickell has been a name of interest for quite some time. For the past couple of coaching cycles, his name has come up, and he has passed on plenty of opportunities. I wouldn't be surprised if he is picked up by a P5 program in the next year or two

Lane Kiffen

Hear me out... despite his pitfalls and pitstops along the way, Lane Kiffen is a solid coach. Took over USC after Carroll left for the NFL. Overall record of 28-15 while there despite being handcuffed by NCAA restrictions and program probation. I think given the right program and situation, I could see him being a great coach. He's been a 65-70% winning coach wherever he's gone and he knows how to recruit too.

Current status: Head Coach of Ole Miss

Availability: Possible candidate

While I do think Ole Miss is a great fit for him (the same way Miss St is a great fit for Mike Leach), it wouldn't surprise me if Lane saw this as a stepping stone job. And if FSU is in a position for him to take over and hit the ground running? He might just take it...

Bill O'Brien

His background is a mixture of being support staff for both P5 programs and NFL teams. He replaced Joe Pa at PSU for 2 seasons going 15-9 before being shown the door. He has been part of the staff for 2 of the best to do it in Nick Saban and Bill Belichek. He's also been a head coach of an NFL franchise (Houston). He has the pedigree and he has the know-how to convince recruits he can get them into the league.

Current Status: OC of Alabama

Availability: Possible candidate

This one is a little out there. But this is a name that I think will become popular over the next few years as he coaches the offense for Alabama. Especially if they continue to dominate the sport. Although I think it would be a risky hire, I do think it's one that could be available at the time.

Bronco Mendenhall

He started his head coaching career in 2005 at BYU where he coached for 11 seasons and a 99-43 record, roughly 70%. He's taken a non-competitive program in Virginia and transformed them into a divisional contender within 3 season. Not known for his recruiting, but he's a fundamentals guy and coaches his teams to be sound in them and play smart ball.

Current Status: Head Coach of Virginia

Availability: Possible Candidate, but unlikely

Bronco is an under-the-radar level coach. He fits in great at a program like Virginia where there's not a huge amount of pressure to compete for conference and national trophies. Similar to Clawson's fit at Wake. While I'm sure there could be interest in him from Florida State, I'm not sure the feeling would be mutual. However, if it is, he could be a coach that takes a decent roster and turns it into something great because of his coaching style.

(Honorable Mentions: Tom Hermon, Dave Clawson, PJ Fleck, Matt Campbell, Jamey Chadwell, Bob Mark Stoops, Steve Sarkisian, Hugh Freeze)

This feels silly to put together... but I think it's something worth talking about. We are in a spot as a program where we might be hiring again in a few years. Why not speculate on it a bit? I think Norvell can get us back to being respectable, but whether he gets the chance to show what he can REALLY do might not be seen here at FSU. And it would be in FSU's best interest to keep an eye out for potential candidates.

So what are your thoughts? There's a whole lot of complaining about the coaching staff out there in the comments, but not a whole lot of recommendations for solutions. So let's hear it! Who are some coaches you will keep your eyes on over the next couple of seasons just in case Norvell doesn't work out?

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