Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Defensive coaching search in a holding pattern

It's apparent that new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wants to see what Florida State does with his former assistants before moving forward in replacing secondary coach Scott Lakatos, inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and defensive line coach Chris Wilson.

One line of thinking is that FSU will promote either Sal Sunseri or Charles Kelly to defensive coordinator, leaving Pruitt to take whomever is not promoted. Since Sunseri coaches defensive ends and Kelly coaches linebackers, this makes moving forward on either vacancy difficult at the present moment.

But there's more than that at play here I believe.

  • It was pretty clear that the Seminoles made a move for Mississippi State's Geoff Collins, who just re-inked in Starkville for a hefty raise. Does that show a lack of faith in Sunseri or Kelly? Does that mean Jimbo Fisher plans to hire a defensive coordinator from outside altogether? 
  • So, if Fisher did go outside of Tallahassee to hire Pruitt's replacement, would both Sunseri and Kelly be offered a spot in Athens? I think so, but there's no real way of knowing. The more likely reason that Pruitt hasn't hired anyone yet is that he wants Kelly and/or Sunseri in place (whether it's in Athens, Tallahassee or somewhere else) before he makes his first move and subsequent decisions on staff personnel and responsibilities.
  • What's best for Georgia? Well, quite obviously Pruitt and his assistants did a fine job of maintaining things last season. It'd be nice for Pruitt to get the gang back together again. And of course, it'd be nice for that to happen soon. So...
  • As antsy as Georgia fans are about hitting the last couple weeks of the recruiting trail with a full defensive staff, imagine how FSU fans feel? More importantly, their targets for letters of intent. With no defensive coordinator on staff and the assistants in limbo, there is zero sense of stability. This makes me think we'll hear something sooner rather than later. In the mean time, Georgia has trained and gotten approval for others to carry the recruiting burden in lieu of defensive position coaches. Most notably Christian Robinson, who I would imagine is quite popular with recruits and their mommas.
  • Lastly, how does Clemson's move on Dabo and staff factor into FSU's decision making here?
Back to that third bullet. I'd especially like to get Kelly on staff. His experience has mostly been in the secondary (he's the linebackers coach at FSU) but he also has a lot of background working with special teams as well. I think his addition to the staff would give Pruitt some immediate as well as long term flexibility. Not to mention that Kelly has been recruiting the south for some time, as well as some familiar names we'd like to add early next month.

For those still clamoring for one solitary functioning special teams coach, please don't hold your breath. That's just not going to happen. Richt made that pretty clear in Pruitt's opening press conference. That doesn't mean we can't get some new ideas and new perspectives introduced into our special teams' roles, responsibilities and philosophies. Which is why these new hires are particularly interesting.

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Also, read Hale's piece breaking down the Seminole side of the Pruitt move. Some good points about the defensive staff maintaining the numbers/rankings that Mark Stoops' staff had the years before as well as how recruiting (specifically in the state of Alabama) might factor into their defensive coordinator search.