As the college football season prepares for it's last hurrah tonight in the form of the much-anticipated BCS national championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame in Miami, Florida State is facing a number of questions of its own.
In the weeks following the regular season, the Seminoles have lost several of their assistants to other programs. Most notably Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops and Defensive Ends coach DJ Eliot left to take better positions at the University of Kentucky. Stoops will now be the Wildcats' head coach while Eliot will be the defensive coordinator.
Both were exceptional in their time at FSU. Tonight Stoops' replacement, Jeremy Pruitt, will coach his last game as the defensive backs coach at Alabama. Former Tennessee DC, Sal Sunseri, was already working with the 'Noles in the lead up to the Orange Bowl. They will replace Stoops and Eliot respectively (with Pruitt as the DC, Sunseri as the DE coach).
But that still leaves a few vacancies on the Florida State coaching staff. Vacancies that need to be filled sooner rather than later as National Signing Day approaches and any uncertainty surrounding a program can be used to recruit agaisnt it in the final weeks as teams and coaches make their final push on high profile players.
Eddie Gran, the running backs coach and special teams coordinator has accepted the job as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator. Dameyune Craig, the QB coach and one of the most highly-touted recruiters on Jimbo Fisher's staff will be taking his talents to Auburn. And though he has not accepted another position yet, Greg Hudson, the LB coach, is all but gone as well (even if he stayed it's likely he would be moved into an administrative position after Erik Korem followed Stoops and Eliot to Kentucky).
That's three assistants at key position groups who need replacing and fast.
With National Signing Day now less than a month away (February 6th), Florida State really needs to solidify its staff and start making their final push on a number of recruits.
Don't think that the coaching turnover matters? 6-5 235-pound Defensive End Davin Bellamy, a Florida State commit in the ESPN 300 was recruited by Dameyune Craig at FSU and recently told reporters that he was informed the Tigers would be coming after him hard once Craig made the move back to Auburn.
Uncertainty can be a major detriment in the final weeks of recruiting season when a prospect may have two or three schools all rated equally and is looking for even the tiniest of factors to push one over the top.
Jimbo Fisher has maintained he has a shortlist of coaching candidates for every position and that he's already begun to investigate replacements. He moved quickly to replace Stoops and Eliot, but the other vacancies have now been open for a while with little or no news of any possible replacements.
That probably needs to change or the openings will start working against the 'Noles in the final weeks leading up to National Signing day. Right now FSU has a top-12 recruiting class (11th per ESPN), and while that's still a good year by most schools' standards, given the precedents Jimbo Fisher has set in his first three seasons, it's a down year by Seminole standards.
It might be time for Florida State to hire some assistant coaches...
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