TALLAHASSEE — Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has been at Florida State since 1984, and for almost every one of those years, the defense has reflected his demeanor:
But his 26th season could be his swan song.
"It may very well be," Andrews, 67, said Sunday as the team posed for pictures as part of its media day. "I said one year last year; this is the one year. I've got some things I've got to get done with my family that I haven't been able to do coaching. When I get out of coaching, it won't be because I can't coach or don't want to coach, but I've got to do things I owe my wife (Diane) and our daughter (Shannon) and (five) grandkids. That could very well be what happens."
Andrews' only son, Ronnie, died two years ago this month, a tragedy that he and his family have struggled to deal with. Not that Andrews' passion for football has seemed to wane, and certainly not his hard-driving approach with his players. As a standout player at Alabama for the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant, he learned there is just one way to play:
"Outfighting, outworking people, playing with pride," he said.
Sure, FSU's defenses under Andrews have had talented players, but he has demanded they play hard every day. And he has never been gentle about motivating his players.
"I was playing strong safety, and I was really aggressive, and I kept getting beat on play-action passes," former FSU and Bucs star Derrick Brooks once told the St. Petersburg Times. "Coach said, 'Brooks, if you ever get beat on that again, you just keep running down Tennessee Street to the Greyhound (bus) station. You tell them coach Andrews sent you, and pick up a ticket, and I'll FedEx your belongings to Pensacola.' "
Brooks moved to linebacker the next week, and to this day, he credits Andrews' tough love and exacting standards for his success in the NFL.
"The truth of the matter is you don't really appreciate it until you leave, what he put inside you," Brooks said.
CB Bryant McFadden, now with the Super Bowl champion Steelers, echoed such sentiments recently: "When I first got there, (Andrews) mentioned toughness; that's something you'll need in football and in life. It's something he preaches. Look at the guys he's coached who've been able to be successful in football and out of football. That speaks a lot about him."
Still feeling the effects: Coach Bobby Bowden said he's still not recovered from a case of shingles that plagued him in the spring and forced him to cancel a few of his booster club stops, including in Pinellas County.
"It's as sensitive as it can be," he said, tracing a line along the left side of his face. "It's numb. It don't hurt, but I've slept on the right side of my face for 2½ months; I cannot sleep on that side. If the cover hits it … . ''
He said that if the nerves weren't too badly damaged, the pain — "the worst I've ever felt in my life" — should fade.
Team motto: Bowden said this year's motto, "It's not about me, it's about us," is something former star WR Peter Warrick said as the 1999 team drove toward an undefeated season and the program's second national title, and was worthy of being used. He and the coaches made that call, not the players, as has been the norm.