TALLAHASSEE — Florida State formally introduced Mike Norvell as its new football coach Sunday. A few quick notes and thoughts from the news conference:
It’s a six-year deal with Norvell and the Seminoles. We haven’t seen financial terms or a contract yet.
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We don’t yet know what role interim coach Odell Haggins will have in the athletic department or Norvell’s coaching staff, but the Seminoles’ decision makers made it clear that he’s sticking around in some form. "Odell is not going anywhere,” athletic director David Coburn said. “Not unless I go with him."
I hate the idea of winning the press conference, because it doesn’t matter if you can’t win on the field. Willie Taggart won the press conference in this very room but was fired because 12 of his 21 games were losses. That said, Norvell won the news conference. He sounded like a fired-up pastor or politician with how passionate he spoke. Energy will not be a problem, nor will selling the program.
Even though FSU didn’t hit its initial timeline for hiring Taggart’s replacement, there was an advantage to firing him midseason. FSU fired him on Nov. 3. That also happened to coincide with Memphis’ open date, when Norvell said he first met with the Seminoles’ brass.
Norvell made it clear he thinks FSU deserves to be among the nation’s top teams every year, but he didn’t promise a quick transformation. He said, a few times in a few different ways, that it was a step-by-step process. “I want to be the coach that gets us back,” Norvell said.
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His opening statement included a thank you to the state’s high school coaches. That was a smart, important move. Norvell has few ties to the state in recruiting or anything else, and how quickly he connects with Florida’s prep coaches will have an enormous impact on his first signing class and beyond.
Norvell said he’ll take a few days to figure out his plans for the upcoming bowl games. He told reporters Saturday after his Tigers won the AAC championship that he planned to coach Memphis in the bowl game (likely the Cotton Bowl, which would be the biggest game in that program’s history). FSU (6-6) will also be going to a bowl game of some sort, too.
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Schematically, Norvell said his system is built for playmakers. That should bode well for a state that has plenty of skill talent. He also stressed the importance of special teams in a way that reminded me of Gators coach Dan Mullen, who harps on them frequently.
President John Thrasher was asked what lessons he learned and used from the 2017 search that netted Taggart. “Too quick,” Thrasher said of the ’17 search. “Probably too quick. That was the biggest one. I think not enough due diligence…” Thrasher said that Norvell popped up in FSU’s last search, too. “We didn’t follow up probably enough on that to be honest with you,” Thrasher said, making it clear he wasn’t saying anything negative about Taggart.
Norvell said the first piece of college football memorabilia he ever owned was a license plate commemorating FSU’s 1993 national championship team. He grew up outside Dallas.
I’ll have more on FSU’s next coach and his introduction soon.