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Noles News: Mike Norvell, Bear Bryant Coach of the Year, a trendy suggestion to replace Nick Saban at Alabama

All the latest in Florida State Seminoles sports

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Recruiting

Another day, another transfer portal addition for Florida State, with Oregon State defensive end transfer Sione Lolohea committing to play for the Seminoles next season.

From NoleThruandThru:

FSU worked hard to get Lolohea on campus for an official visit after his entry into the portal. New FSU and former Oregon State QB D.J. Uiagalelei actively assisted the staff in recruiting Lolohea to Tallahassee. 2023 was his best campaign to date, as he earned a second-team all-conference nod. Lolohea chose the Seminoles over Lincoln Riley’s USC Trojans, who also received a weekend visit.

Lolohea is 6’3 265 pounds and has one year of eligibility remaining. Last season he notched 46 tackles (8.5 TFL), two forced fumbles, one and a half sacks, and a fumble recovery. He has played in 40 career games and has totaled 88 tackles (15 TFL), four sacks, four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

And not quite a portal addition given his presence on the 2023 FSU roster, but linebacker DJ Lundy has decided against playing for Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes and will instead remain in Tallahassee:

Football

One of the greatest coaches in the history of American sports — let alone college football — is hanging it up, as Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban announced Wednesday that he’ll be retiring from coaching.

Who are the top names that are being suggested — not linked to — the job? Most national outlets have started throwing out a few common names, with Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning at the top of potential replacements.

Mike Norvell, to what surely will be to the chagrin of FSU fans and the frustration of Alabama fans who have spent weeks calling him a crybaby creator of poor culture, has been one of the trendier names thrown around with ESPN, 247Sports, The Athletic, USA Today and On3.

Speaking of Gump coach-related news and Norvell, the fourth-year head coach became the first-ever FSU coach to win the Bear Bryant Award for Coach of the Year, beating out David Braun (Northwestern Wildcats), Jamey Chadwell (Liberty Flames), Kalen DeBoer (Washington Huskies), Eliah Drinkwitz (Missouri Tigers), Rhett Lashlee (SMU Mustangs), Steve Sarkisian (Texas Longhorns) and — who else? — Nick Saban (Alabama Crimson Tide).

Jordan Silversmith continued his look at the most impressive individual performances by FSU players this past season, wrapping up with a breakdown of special teams:

60.0%

Ryan Fitzgerald finished the 2022 season with a kicking percentage of a D minus. When Florida State brought in Tyler Keltner, many thought that Fitzgerald’s childhood teammate would come into Tallahassee and take the starting job.

Keltner transferred after one year in the program.

Fitzgerald finished the season 19/21 on field goals and became the most improved player on the Seminole roster.

Fitzgerald became a microcosm of the special teams unit as a whole. Mike Norvell and special teams coordinator John Papuchis spent years trying to revamp the special teams unit.

The 2023 season paid off all their hard work.

Basketball

Her second appearance in as many years, FSU sophomore guard Ta’Niya Latson has been selected to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25:

The Miami, Fla., native and consensus national freshman of the year last season has once again gotten off to an incredible start this year. Latson is averaging 21.1 points and has four 30-point games this season, including three in her first four ACC games.

Latson recorded a career-high 35 points in FSU’s 79-75 win at Florida on Nov. 17. She then followed with three consecutive 30-point performances to start ACC play vs. Georgia Tech (30 points), Wake Forest (30) and No. 3 NC State (30). She became the second Seminole to record three consecutive 30-point games, joining WNBA All-Star Natasha Howard from the 2013-14 season.

She has been at her best against top competition, averaging 24.8 points in 30.3 minutes played against FSU’s four ranked opponents so far this season.

Latson is just 25 points away from being the fastest Seminole ever to 1,000 career points if she can do it in Thursday’s game against UNC. FSU all-time leading scorer Sue Galkantas crossed the 1,000-point mark in her 48th game played at FSU in the 1981-82 season. Latson plays her 47th game on Thursday with 975 career points.

The No. 21 Seminoles take on No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels tonight in Tallahassee, with tip-off set for 6 p.m. from the Tucker Center:

It begins a stretch of back-to-back ranked matchups at the Tucker Center, as No. 11 Virginia Tech visits on Sunday.

FSU has not played in consecutive ranked matchups at the Tucker Center in seven years, last doing it on Jan. 8-12, 2017, against No. 13 Duke and No. 9 Louisville while the Seminoles were also ranked in those games.

Head coach Brooke Wyckoff owns an 8-3 record against the four North Carolina schools in the ACC, which includes her interim head coaching season in the 2020-21 year. Last year, the Seminoles were an undefeated 5-0 in the regular season against North Carolina (1-0), NC State (1-0), Duke (1-0) and Wake Forest (2-0), but did fall to the Demon Deacons in the 2023 ACC Tournament.

The Seminoles are looking for a 4-1 start to ACC play for the second consecutive year.

Softball

It’s almost softball season, and Gwyn Rhodes and Brian Pellerin are breaking down everything you need to know — the latest being a look at FSU’s non-conference schedule, one that includes four of the seven other teams that played in the College World Series in the Washington Huskies, Stanford Cardinals, Tennessee Volunteers and Alabama Crimson Tide as well as tournament teams in the Oregon Ducks, UCLA Bruins, Florida Gators, McNeese Cowgirls, Charlotte 49ers and Texas Longhorns.

Listen below, as well as on the Everything Noles podcast network available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your shows.

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