Who's The Best Man for the Job?
I've heard a lot of names tossed around the last few weeks; I even read a post on Warchant from a guy who went to school with Bobby Bowden's neighbor's son who knows for sure that Bill Walsh has agreed to come out of retirement to run FSU's offense. So that's pretty cool. And as excited as I am about the change I have to say that based on Daryl Dickey, Mark McHale, and Leonard Hamilton I'm not so sure that Bobby Bowden and Dave Hart are the best guys to make this decision. I'm already underwhelmed by their choice, and they haven't even chosen anyone yet. I've got the same sense of foreboding I got while walking into the theater to see Gigli, like I know things are going to end badly but there's no turning back. Okay, that's a lie...I never saw Gigli, but still.
However, if there's one trait that defines football fans it's that resilient optimism that let's us all believe our teams can win the National Title next season, no matter how ugly this season was. So just for the hell of it let's take a look at some of the possible candidates - some real, some rumored, and some merely wished for by yours truly - and see who makes the most sense, and who will actually wind up with the job.
Click on each guy's name for his bio...
Current Job Situation: Offensive Coordinator at Oklahoma State
The Upside: He's done a good job with the Xavier Lee-ish Bobby Reid and the offense at Oklahoma State. Maybe he just needed some time to get his feet wet as a coordinator?
The Downside: He was the offensive coordinator at UF under Ron Zook, and while the Gators put up some decent numbers his offense was never inspiring. It always seemed like the Gators were mired in an miasma of pointless runs and endless bubble screens. He made FSU fans feel better about Jeff Bowden....that right there should tell you what you need to know.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: Not sure. He's always mentioned as a candidate, but whether that's based on actual interest from FSU or posturing by his agent remains unclear.
Chances He's The Next OC: I'm going to go on the high side here and say 2%. He doesn't have any apparent connection to Bobby Bowden and he's got little to no support among the FSU faithful. He did have one of his best games as Florida's OC against FSU and maybe that stuck in the back of Dave Hart's mind, but I get the feeling that there's no real mutual interest between Fedora and Florida State.
Current Job Situation: Recently fired as Head Coach at NC State
The Upside: He's a terrific recruiter and a player's coach. He spent 14 years working for Bobby Bowden so he's obviously familiar with the staff. If he could get FSU to play as well as his teams always played against FSU we'd be back in the National Title hunt in no time.
The Downside: Chuck the Chest was fired by NC State for good reason. The Wolfpack killed themselves with more consistency and flair than any team in recent memory. Horrific turnovers and stupid penalties destroyed the Wolfpack in almost every game they played (except FSU, of course) over the past three years. For a team like FSU that's struggling to eliminate horrific turnovers and stupid penalties I'm thinking Amato might be a bad choice. Plus, Bobby finally stopped wearing those stupid Ray-Bans this year. Do you really want to see those abominations back on the sidelines? Me neither.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: He's got head coaching experience now and he would help with the flagging recruiting effort. He's been mentioned several times on FSU chat rooms as a potential candidate, though I can't figure out why since he's a defensive coach.
Chances He's The Next OC: -250%, and that may be too high. Amato is a defensive coach who reportedly clashed with some of the other FSU coaches before he left for Raleigh. Bringing him back on the offensive side of the ball would actually be a step backwards, as hard as that is to fathom.
Current Job Situation: College football analyst for ABC
The Upside: Restaurants in the Tallahassee area would immediately experience a surge in business. But seriously, Terry is arguably the most successful of the Baby Bowdens, guiding Auburn to a perfect season in 1993 and following that up with a 10-win season the next year.
The Downside: Following those two scintillating seasons Bowden was run out of town by Auburn boosters, much like what just happened to Jeff and what's going to happen to Tommy soon. He hasn't been in coaching in over a decade and I have a hard time believing the players could take a pudgy North Pole-reject that wears WAY too much rouge seriously as the offensive coordinator.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: He doesn't make sense AT ALL, so why does he keep getting mentioned on message boards? If every person on the planet was a candidate for the job I'd rank him as the third-worst candidate alive behind (1) Jeff Bowden, and (2) Saddam Hussein but only because Hussein is about to be hanged (I'm pretty sure Saddam could run a two-minute drill better than either of them).
Chances He's The Next OC: I want to say -1,000,000,000%, but with Bobby calling the shots you've got to figure there's a chance. I will now go snort a line of live fire ants.
Current Job Situation: Recently fired as Offensive Coordinator at North Carolina
The Upside: Cignetti is better known for his work as the Offensive Coordinator at Fresno State where he guided several prolific offenses. In fact, the other FSU fell on hard times as soon as Gignetti moved on. He's also coached a succession of well-known QBs including Aaron Brooks, Jake Dalhomme, Billy Joe Tolliver, and Paul Pinegar. And if that list of names scares the hell out of you, you're not alone.
The Downside: I can't get past the "UNC" on his reume. Their offense was abysmal this year, and I only use "abysmal" because I already used "horrific" a few blurbs ago.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: His father coached under Bobby Bowden at West Virginia and actually succeeded Bobby when he left for FSU so Frank has a Bowden connection, and he would fill two crucial roles for FSU as an OC/QB coach.
Chances He's The Next OC: Thanks to the Bobby connection I'm going to put him up around 20%. I don't think that at this point in his career Bowden wants to bring in an unknown coach with no connections to the program. Cignetti is probably a guy Bobby's been familiar with for a number of years and feels confortable with, and I have to think that gives him an edge.
Current Job Situation: Recently fired as Offensive Coordinator at NC State
The Upside: Trestman has a wealth of experience both at the collegiate level and in the NFL.
The Downside: Frankly, it scares the crap out of me that two names being tossed around for the job are the former OC's at UNC and NC State - two of the worst offensive teams in a conference defined by weak attacks. This past season NC State continually ignored their biggest asset, namely a loaded backfield, and after the past six years do we really want a guy who can't get the running game going? Also, he spells Marc with a "c", which bugs the hell out of me.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: Perhaps his NFL experience could come in handy with play-calling and recruiting. Beyond that I see little upside. He's only on this list due to message board chatter.
Chances He's The Next OC: He's not a hot name and he has little to no connection to Bowden. 0.0001%
Current Job Situation: Offensive Line Coach at Clemson
The Upside: Everyone knows that FSU must improve their OL and Scott's done a tremendous job with the line at Clemson. Oh, and he was the Offensive Coordinator for FSU's first National Championship team or something.
The Downside: After his tremendous success at FSU Scott left to become the Head Coach at South Carolina. Now he's the OL Coach at Clemson. In other words, things didn't go well. His offenses have been underwhelming without Charlie Ward at the helm, and as much as I'd like him for the OL I don't know if I want him calling plays. Plus I think he burned some bridges on his way out of Tallahassee.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: Could help us as both OC and OL Coach and is very familiar with Bobby Bowden and most of the staff. His players love him and he'd provide a nice link between the program's past and its present.
Chances He's The Next OC: He's currently employed by Tommy Bowden at Clemson and there's rumors of bad blood between him and the FSU staff, so let's go with 7%
Current Job Situation: Recently fired as Head Coach at Miami
The Upside: Coker was the OC for the great Hurricane teams of the early 00's. He's a strong recruiter and a class act.
The Downside: Miami's downfall was the same as FSU's - a listless, punchless offensive attack that couldn't use it's playmakers properly. Also, who would he bring with him? At one point he had a strong offensive staff under him, but after firing guys like Art Kehoe last winter would he bring the staff that just got him fired at UM? Yikes.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: Coker and Bowden seem to have a lot of respect for each other and I could see them working well together. Coker's the type of gracious, classy gentleman that I'm sure Bobby would like to have around and he runs a smart, run-oriented offense.
Chances He's The Next OC: Since I added him to this list despite never hearing him mentioned as a candidate it's probably safe to say the odds are between slim and none. But I still think he'd be a better choice than most of the guys that are actually up for the job.
Current Job Situation: Head Coach at Valdosta State University
The Upside: Hatcher's "Air Raid" offense has been extremely successful at the Div-II level and is often compared to the "Fast Break" offense FSU employed during the '90s. Hatcher rode his explosive offense to the 2004 Division-II National Championship and Coach of the Year honors. Check out this resolution from the Georgia House of Representatives commending him! Hatcher is also a proven asset as a QB coach, working with #1 overall pick Tim Couch and winning his ring with former FSU QB Fabian Walker.
The Downside: Would Hatcher's pass-happy offense work at this level? Can he run a balanced offense that will take advantage of Antone Smith's skills? Does he have enough experience?
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: Explosive offense is what put FSU on the national radar and Hatcher brings the mindset to make FSU a big-time passing offense again. His experience level is a question mark, but considering what Arkansas accomplished this year with a high school coach running their offense it's kind of hard to hold the "Div-II coach" thing against him.
Chances He's The Next OC: Chris Hatcher is a young, energetic, creative coach. I think he's exactly the sort of guy we should be going after. However, he's being considered by a group of men that aren't young, aren't energetic, and aren't all that creative. That could work against him. Let's say 25%.
Current Job Situation: Offensive Coordinator at Auburn
The Upside: A talented OC and QB Coach, Borges won the Frank Broyles award as the nation's top assistant in 2004 for his work in turning around Auburn's underachieving offense. More importantly, he transformed Jason Campbell from an indecisive mess into a poised, accurate first-round draft pick.
The Downside: Ummmm...hold on, I'm still thinking...well, he's moved around a lot. How's that?
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: I think it is critical for FSU to get an Offensive Coordinator who is also the QB Coach, and Borges has been handling those duties for the last 20 years with great success, getting both Campbell and Cade McKnown into the first round of the draft. He's recruited well for Auburn and he's an old-school coach that I would expect to mesh very well with Bobby Bowden.
Chances He's The Next OC: I threw him in here as one of my two Dream Candidates so the odds aren't good. How does 5% sound?
Current Job Situation: Running Backs Coach and Offensive Assistant for the New Orleans Saints
The Upside: NFL experience and loads of it. Henshaw spent the last 18 years on NFL sidelines, coaching every offensive unit and serving as OC for the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans. Two things that jumped out from his bio are the tremendous success Tennessee's tight ends enjoyed under Henshaw and the great running game he established in New York. Me thinks Brandon Warren and Antone Smith might be excited to hear about that.
The Downside: My only reservation about Henshaw is recruiting. He's been in the pro game for almost two decades now. How will he respond to working with a bunch of 18-year-olds and, more importantly, how will they respond to working with him? Miami made a similar move to bring in an NFL coordinator last winter and the offense actually regressed.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: Honestly I wasn't that impressed with Henshaw until I read his full bio. On top of a great NFL coaching career Henshaw coached both lines at FSU and from '79-'82 he was the Offensive Line Coach and Offensive Coordinator. FSU went 21-1 over that period. Let's see here; extensive offensive coaching experience...check. History of coaching strong offensive lines...check. Close ties with Bobby Bowden...check. NFL experience...check. Any questions?
Chances He's The Next OC: He's got everything I think the men making this decision want in the next OC. I have to believe the job is his if he wants it, but lately he seems to be on the back burner. That could have a lot to do with the fact his current employer is in the thick of the NFC South race, though. I still think he's a leading candidate, so let's go with 65%.
Current Job Situation: Offensive Coordinator at LSU
The Upside: Fisher has been at LSU for the last seven years and has led some of the best offenses in school history. He's a terrific QB Coach and his teams have always produced whether he had Rohan Davey, Matt Mauck, or Jamarcus Russell under center. He runs a balanced offense that takes advantage of its skill position guys, and he's won big games on the road against top competition. He's also a dynamic recruiter.
The Downside: He's clearly a guy on the way up, and even if he does make it to FSU without accepting a head coaching job at Cincinatti or some other small school the odds are he won't stay in Tallahassee long. Plus, his offensive coordinator at Samford was none other than Jeff Bowden! I don't know about you, but that scares the bejeezus out of me.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: I think it's absolutely critical that FSU bring in a top OC who's also a gifted QB coach, and Fisher has had more success in that role than any other candidate FSU is looking at. Throw in his accomplishments as a recruiter and he's the total package FSU is looking for. But wait, there's more! The rumor mill has been churning, and word is that if Jimbo Fisher comes to FSU he would bring in former FSU great Lawrence Dawsey as the WR coach and current West Virginia OL Coach Rick Trickett. Needless to say, Seminole fans are absolutely giddy at the thought of that staff taking over our roster.
Chances He's The Next OC: I think the chances are pretty good that Fisher will come to FSU if he doesn't get snatched up by a small school looking for a Head Coach. With his resume I wouldn't be at all surprised to see that happen. I also hear money is an issue, but if we can afford to pay Jeff Bowden $120K a year NOT to coach we can certainly give Mr. Fisher whatever it takes to aquire his services. Along with Henshaw he's the best candidate so I'm putting his chances at 35%.
Current Job Situation: Quarterbacks Coach and Assistant Head Coach at Southern Cal
The Upside: This is the guy right here. I'm telling you, this is the guy. Sarkisian started coaching the QBs at USC in 2002 - also known as the year Carson Palmer went from career underachiever to Heisman winner and #1 draft pick. Then Sarkisian coached Matt Leinart in his first year when he led USC to a share of the National Championship. After leaving for a stint in the NFL, Sarkisian rejoined the USC coaching staff in 2005 just in time to coach Leinart's final season and oversee the transition to possible serial killer John David Booty. Part of the reason he returned to USC was the opportunity to help run the offense, and under the care of Sarkisian and OC Lane Kiffin the Trojans haven't missed a beat since Norm Chow left for the NFL. Sarkisian is also a gifted recruiter on the best recruiting staff in the nation.
The Downside: He lives on the West Coast, so shipping all of his stuff to Tallahassee is going to cost a mint. Other than that, he's perfect.
Why He Makes Sense For FSU: He's a young, creative, aggresive coach that fills the OC/QB Coach role that FSU is in such desperate need of. He comes from a program with a history of outstanding OL play, so I'm assuming he could bring along some good coaches for the line. He'd instantly add a winning mantality, a sharp offensive mind, and a great recruiter to the staff. And he went to BYU so I have to think he'd fit in well with the decidedly Christian bent of the current FSU staff.
Chances He's The Next OC: He's my #1 Dream Candidate, and if I was making the call we'd already have a secret under-the-table deal worked out, but in the real world I've only heard him mentioned in rumor and innuendo. I think Bobby would hold his relative inexperience against him and he has no connection to the Bowdens or any other FSU coaches that I know of, so unfortunately I'm going to have to go with a big fat 1%. Bummer.