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.”
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
“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.
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.
Indiana coach Tom Allen
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.
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.
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
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.
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.