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Florida State football coach Mike Norvell tests positive for coronavirus

Chris Thomsen will handle head-coaching duties until Mike Norvell returns, including next week at Miami.
Coach Mike Norvell of the Florida State Seminoles during the game against the Georgia Tech last weekend at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.
Coach Mike Norvell of the Florida State Seminoles during the game against the Georgia Tech last weekend at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. [ DON JUAN MOORE | Don Juan Moore ]
Published Sep. 19, 2020
Updated Sep. 19, 2020

Florida State football coach Mike Norvell has tested positive for coronavirus.

The Seminoles said Norvell is feeling fine and that deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will lead the team in Norvell’s absence, including next week at Miami.

Norvell said in a statement that he received a positive result Friday after a pair of negative tests earlier in the week. He is isolating, and his wife and daughter are also quarantining, even though neither one has tested positive.

Related: Ten members of Willie Taggart’s first FSU recruiting class are gone or on their way out

“My result was surprising to me, but we have prepared for a potential positive result among anyone in our program and we will put that plan in place while I am away,” Norvell said. “I will remain involved remotely as much as possible to help our team continue to prepare.”

FSU athletic director David Coburn called the news “unfortunate” but that Norvell was feeling okay. Coburn said FSU is “proceeding with our Covid protocols as we would with any other case.” That includes normal contact tracing by the university’s staff, which would find identify players or staffers who might also be affected.

Coburn said FSU has been in touch with Miami athletic director Blake James and ACC commissioner John Swofford about the issue.

“At this point, based on our testing this week, we have no reason to believe that the Miami game is in jeopardy.”

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Head Coach Mike Norvell of the Florida State Seminoles talks with Head Coach Geoff Collins of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before the game at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field on September 12, 2020 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Character Lines)
TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Head Coach Mike Norvell of the Florida State Seminoles talks with Head Coach Geoff Collins of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before the game at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field on September 12, 2020 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Character Lines) [ DON JUAN MOORE | Don Juan Moore ]

But that 7:30 p.m. game at Hard Rock Stadium will take place without Norvell. His status beyond that, including an Oct. 3 home game against Jacksonville State, is unclear. FSU’s return to athletics task force plan calls for players or staffers to self-isolate for 10 days after a positive test.

Norvell, 38, took over FSU in December after four successful seasons at Memphis. His Seminoles lost their opener 16-13 at home to Georgia Tech last Saturday and are off this week.

Instead, Thomsen will lead FSU against the rival Hurricanes. The Seminoles hired the 51-year-old Texas native to be their tight ends coach. He previously served as the head coach at Abilene Christian from 2005-11. He went 51-21 there with six consecutive trips to the Division II playoffs and earning Lone Star Conference coach of the year honors four times. He also served as Texas Tech’s interim coach for the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2012, leading the Red Raiders to a 34-31 victory over Minnesota.

Florida State deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will take over head coaching duties while Mike Norvell is out.
Florida State deputy head coach Chris Thomsen will take over head coaching duties while Mike Norvell is out. [ KYLE PULEK | Courtesy of FSU Sports Information ]

Thomsen became a Power Five assistant after that, with stops as an offensive line coach at Texas Tech (2012), Arizona State (2013-16) and TCU (2017-19). He’s a TCU graduate who helped develop NFL players like running back Charcandrick West, receiver Taylor Gabriel and offensive lineman Lucas Niang, the No. 96 overall pick this spring.

Norvell isn’t the only active head coach to test positive for coronavirus. Toledo’s Jason Candle tested positive in July, and the Los Angeles Times reported that UCLA coach Chip Kelly contracted the virus in late March.

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