I already have written about the changes I expect to be made this offseason on Florida State’s offensive coaching staff. From what I’m hearing through my contacts in and around the Seminoles’ football program, here’s how I see the makeover of the defensive staff.
Coordinator Charles Kelly is a good guy who knows football. But he never has been able to get his guys buy in. That’s not just the case this season; it’s been the case since he took over following the 2013 season, when Jeremy Pruitt left.
There’s a general lack of accountability, which shows up in the form of consistent breakdowns in the fourth quarter. That’s on leadership and that’s on Kelly.
Kelly also struggles against spread offenses featuring running quarterbacks – something the ‘Noles see regularly in the ACC (think Louisville and Clemson).
Expect Alabama secondary coach Derrick Ansley to be targeted as Kelly’s replacement. Ansley is in his second season on Nick Saban’s coaching staff. He had spent the previous four seasons as a secondary coach at Tennessee (2012) and Kentucky (2013-15) after a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Alabama during the 2010 and ’11 seasons.
He’s a great recruiter and does a tremendous job getting the most out of his players. He’ll bring with him a level of respect close to that of Pruitt, who’s now Alabama’s DC.
The players will buy in, and the opportunity for Ansley to turn FSU’s defense around immediately would be attractive to him as a springboard for a head-coaching position, like it was with Mark Stoops.
I do not know if longtime FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins will stay or go, but I do know every coach is being analyzed. Haggins is one of the greatest men I know and is the longest-tenured coach at FSU.
The reason I have him on this list is because there is a guy who will be in Tallahassee this weekend who Jimbo Fisher should take to lunch Friday. Mike London is the current coach at FCS program Howard, and the Bison play Florida A&M on Saturday. London would elevate the Seminoles’ coaching staff and I hope Fisher makes him defensive coordinator or assistant head coach. London was a defensive line coach the last time he was an assistant (2016, at Maryland) and he knows the ACC from his time as coach at Virginia (2010-15). He would command respect. Simply put, I just want him on the coaching staff.
FSU can increase his current salary, put him back on a path for another FBS head-coaching position and allow him to recruit the hotbeds of Maryland and Virginia, where he has deep connections.
Coincidentally, both he and Fisher have children suffering from Fanconi anemia. They could provide each other a strong personal support system.
I think defensive ends coach Brad Lawing stays, while linebacker coach Bill Miller is 50-50 to stay.
FSU’s linebacker play has been inconsistent and could use an upgrade. Miller has been on staff since Pruitt left, but FSU just hasn’t had dominant linebacker play of late. The staff needs someone who can develop talent and return FSU to the days when it was producing linebackers like Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Sam Cowart, Tommy Polley, Michael Boulware and Ernie Sims.
Tony Pecoraro’s name won’t pop up on many lists, but he’s an up-and-coming coach with ties to FSU who has had success everywhere he’s been. He was a student assistant and quality control coach at FSU before moving to Division II North Alabama and FCS program Alcorn State, where he was the defensive coordinator. Currently, Pecoraro is in his second season as DC at Southern Miss. Returning to FSU and becoming the linebackers coach would pay him more and provide him exposure to continue working his way up the coaching ladder.
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