Seminoles’ success leads to coaching turnover

TALLAHASSEE — Jimbo Fisher knew when he put together his coaching staff in 2010 that it would only be a matter of time.

At some point, Florida State’s success on the field — a combined 30-10 the past three seasons — meant that his assistants would be moving on to jobs with better titles and more money. And it has been that way for the past three weeks as coaches have interviewed elsewhere.

Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was also hired Nov. 27 as Kentucky’s head coach. And he has hired Florida State defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot to be the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator.

Florida State also lost running backs coach/special teams coordinator Eddie Gran, who on Thursday was named the offensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati. New Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville has close ties to Gran, who was an assistant coach on Tuberville’s staff from 1995-98 at Mississippi and 1999-2008 at Auburn.

“This is the first time in three years we’ve had a coaching change,” Fisher said. “We’re lucky. Not many have. You got spoiled at Florida State for a while because there was not a lot of movement in coaching. The money in coaching now changes everything because they all want to be head coaches and they all want to be coordinators. They want that opportunity.”

Florida State was able to keep an assistant that was looking around, too. Fisher confirmed on Friday afternoon that quarterbacks coach/recruiting coordinator Dameyune Craig is staying at FSU after interviewing at his alma mater, Auburn.

Craig, a quarterback at Auburn from 1994-97 when Fisher was the team’s QB coach, has been a mentor to Florida State quarterbacks Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel. And Craig has also been a valuable recruiter in Alabama for the Seminoles as well as the team’s recruiting coordinator.

“He’s a good recruiter, good coach,” Fisher said. “He and I have had a relationship for a long time. He understands what we’re doing here and how good a team we can have.”

Fisher said that he has interviewed candidates for the defensive coordinator position but has not made a hire. He said it’s not definite that he will hire a coordinator before the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, and he said that Stoops and Eliot have offered their help in the coming weeks.

So Florida State returned to the practice field on Friday evening after a 12-day break without Stoops, Eliot and Gran. But Fisher said all of them would be back in Tallahassee on Sunday and will help the Seminoles as they prepare for Northern Illinois.

Fisher has spent time interviewing candidates for openings. But he’s also talked to players and recruits, telling them about what kind of coaches he is looking for — and that it will be a good hire for them and the program. Florida State’s success the past three years has given assistants jobs in Lexington and Cincinnati, but Fisher knows that it has also shown an opportunity for the next guy that wants to coach in Tallahassee.

“It’s like developing a quarterback,” Fisher said. “Quarterback comes here, he’s in the NFL. (Another) quarterback comes here, he’s in the NFL. I want to be the next quarterback that goes there. That’s the business.”