Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, as expected for the past few months, said Tuesday that he will retire after this season.
Andrews, 68, said he has been "blessed" to be at FSU since 1984, but the thing he wants now is to be at home around the clock for his wife of 48 years, Diane, their daughter and their five grandchildren.
"For 47 years, it's been about me," he said. "Now it's time to be about us — my family."
He briefly addressed the media after practice, with his players standing somberly behind him. At one point, senior linebacker and defensive captain Dekoda Watson poignantly put his hand on his coach's shoulder.
"I don't know how anybody could be more fortunate to have a job like I do," Andrews said. "The coaches I work with, these guys back here. I fuss at them a lot of times, say things I ought not to say, but they know I love them, and I just want the best for them."
FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who was hoping Andrews might return for another year, perhaps avoiding the disappointment of his going out with a young defense struggling like never before, said the longtime coordinator deserves much of the credit "for the success we've had since he came here."
During Andrews' tenure, the defense personified his fire and relentlessness and formed the backbone of the Seminoles' championship teams.
"His impact on Florida State, in my opinion, is not far behind Coach Bowden's," said former FSU linebacker Derrick Brooks, the former Bucs star who's now a member of the FSU board of trustees. "You just look at the number of players who have gone to have successful lives who played for him. He made sure the players understood what it was like to be a mentally tough individual, not just on the field but off the field."
If Andrews wanted to quell some of the speculation surrounding him by making his announcement now, it has only led to new speculation: Who hires his replacement and will more staff changes follow?
Normally, the head coach hires and fires, but Bowden's future is more uncertain than at any time in his career at FSU. Bowden, who turns 80 on Sunday, has said he's leaning strongly toward returning for 2010, but the team's struggles have prompted fans and power brokers alike to call for his departure sooner rather than later.
Assuming Bowden does return, should he make the call on a new coordinator or should designated heir Jimbo Fisher bring in someone he wants, someone who wouldn't be a bridge between the end of the Bowden era and the start of his own.
In his strongest public statements yet on such a possibility, Bowden said Sunday morning that Fisher's opinion has to be considered "because he is the future."
Despite some Internet rumors to the contrary, Bowden, Fisher and the administration all seemed to agree that there would be a joint decision on filling any staff opening. (And there could be more if a new coordinator wants to bring in some of his own assistants.)
"Bobby Bowden's been coaching 55 years; he didn't fall off a load of turnips on the way into town," FSU president T.K. Wetherell told the St. Petersburg Times before the season began. "He knows that if Mickey Andrews leaves, he's going to sit and talk with Jimbo about the decision, because who's going to come in here and take the job for one year?
"That transition has begun. … If you start looking at things starting to unfold, you can see the plan unfolding."
Fisher said he's sure there are a number of "outstanding guys" who would be interested because "this is a great job; that's why I don't want to go anywhere." But how soon could that person hit the recruiting trails? Consider that FSU's top choice could be on a bowl-bound team or perhaps an NFL team (Fisher worked with Minnesota Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and New Orleans Saints assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones at LSU), and that could mean a long wait.
Andrews will stay on staff until Feb. 10, the anniversary of his hiring.
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347.