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Kirk Herbstreit has three criteria for FSU’s next coach. Who checks those boxes?

Only two potential targets fit all three of Kirk Herbstreit’s criteria. And one of them seems happily retired.
Washington State head football coach Mike Leach gestures to his team after a penalty call during the second quarter of a game against Oregon on Oct. 26. [CHRIS PIETSCH | AP]
Published Nov. 7

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit has a few criteria in mind that should guide Florida State’s coaching search.

“I think they’ve got to go after an established coach,” Herbstreit said during a media teleconference. “I don’t know if taking a hot coordinator would be the right move.

“I think after everything they’ve been through for the last few years, they need to find somebody that is familiar with the state, as far as recruiting, somebody that’s familiar with that school and some of the ways that school works and operates.”

RELATED: Did Willie Taggart leave FSU better than he found it?

As far as specific, viable candidates, Herbstreit’s like everyone else.

“You’re literally just throwing names out there,” Herbstreit said.

So let’s literally just throw some names out there to see which potential targets check Herbstreit’s three boxes (established, local recruiting ties and an FSU connection).

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops

In this Sept. 10, 2017, file photo, Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain shakes hands with Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops at the end of the game. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7.

“I think the most obvious name to come to the top of my head is Mark Stoops,” Herbstreit said. Stoops, by Herbstreit’s criteria, is the perfect fit. He was FSU’s defensive coordinator from 2010-12 and spent three years as an assistant at Miami. He has recruited Florida well at Kentucky and guided the Wildcats to the third 10-win season in school history last year.

RELATED: ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit: Mark Stoops obvious name for FSU job

Former Miami coach Mark Richt

He’s the only other name that’s 3-for-3. Aside from his obvious south Florida roots, he spent a decade as an FSU assistant under Bobby Bowden and had success at Miami and Georgia. The 59-year-old makes sense in theory, but he seems happily retired as an ACC Network analyst and recently had a heart attack.

Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops

The 59-year-old won a national title with the Sooners and has Florida ties thanks to his time on Steve Spurrier’s Gators staff. The current head coach/general manager of the XFL’s Dallas Renegades told Herbstreit earlier this week he’s not a candidate at FSU, for what that’s worth.

RELATED: Why the FSU-Bob Stoops speculation might (and might not) make sense

Indiana coach Tom Allen

Indiana coach Tom Allen yells instructions during the second half of a game against Nebraska on Oct. 26. Indiana won 38-31. [NATI HARNIK | AP]

We’ll consider him established after two-plus seasons as the Hoosiers’ head coach. He somehow has Indiana at 7-2, and he has lots of Florida ties with recruiting (quarterback Michael Penix is a Tampa Bay Tech product) and coaching (he was the head coach at now-defunct Temple Heights Christian and an assistant at Armwood High and USF). His Plant High connections —his son, Thomas, starred there —help, too.

RELATED: Fennelly: Brief detour back to Tampa for new IU coach Tom Allen

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell

He’s established (five years as Toledo’s head coach and four in Ames) and has had his program ranked in five seasons. Nine of his Cyclones are from Florida, and he recruited Steelers rookie Diontae Johnson from Lennard High to Toledo.

RELATED: FSU athletic director David Coburn: ‘6-6 isn’t good enough’

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson

His 11 years as a head coach include a successful run for the Demon Deacons, who are 7-1 and ranked for the first time since 2008. He’s not a native Floridian, but 11 of his players are (including East Lake High product Justin Strnad).

Memphis coach Mike Norvell

Memphis coach Mike Norvell waves to fans as he leaves the field with offensive lineman Obinna Eze (77) after the team's game against SMU on Nov. 2. Memphis won 54-48. [MARK HUMPHREY | AP]

The Texas native has the Tigers in the top 25 and in the mix for a New Year’s Six bowl game. His state ties are weak; he has signed only two Floridians in his four classes at Memphis.

Washington State coach Mike Leach

The former Valdosta State assistant has a Key West home and a significant Florida influence on his roster, all the way across the country. He’s 138-87 overall with stints at Texas Tech and Washington State.

RELATED: The three beginnings that led to Willie Taggart’s end at FSU

Penn State coach James Franklin

He’s clearly established and has recruited Florida at Penn State and in his last job, as Vanderbilt’s head coach. Whether he’d be interested in leaving the Nittany Lions is a completely different question.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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