The Daily Nole

How McElwain’s Departure Affects FSU

Jeremy Esbrandt/FSU athletics

Typically other coach firings are not worth discussing on a Florida State-centered website. What has been unusual in the past couple of years is the number of firings that directly involve Florida State as a program.

The first was in 2016 when Les Miles was pushed out at LSU. The school heavily pursued Jimbo Fisher, but he was retained at Florida State after a fat extension came his way.

The second relevant move involves one of Florida State’s rivals — the Florida Gators. The news of Jim McElwain’s firing broke Sunday afternoon on the heels of a 42-7 shellacking at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs.

McElwain’s career at Florida was marked more by off-the-field headlines than by significant victories despite SEC East titles in each of his first two seasons. Everything from suspensions to injuries to viral photos became commonplace during his tenure. That’s why he was let go midseason even though he had success on the field early on. Needless to say, Florida will be the talk of the coaching carousel from here on out.

Implications for Florida State range everywhere from recruiting to actual results on the field. In fact, the McElwain firing might be worth discussing in terms of a broader program approach.

The immediate assumption with Florida firing McElwain is that it means open season for the Seminoles on the recruiting trail. In most other seasons, that would be a fair assumption.

But 2017 — and the effect it has on the 2018 recruiting class — is shaping up to be a far different affair.

Florida State is going to have comparable turnover at a significant number of staff positions. At this moment, there is a greater than 50 percent chance that at least three coaches (including the defensive coordinator) are not with the program in 2018. The Seminoles will not be able to cite their continuity as much heading into next season, which takes away a major point in their favor.

Will they still have an edge when battling over certain recruits? Certainly. The fact that Fisher is staying put means the program itself will not undergo a complete renovation. That will have pull with whatever recruits are deciding between Gainesville and Tallahassee.

It should still be mentioned that such things do not happen in a Florida vacuum. While Florida State might be able to leverage these factors in recruiting against the Gators, it is still susceptible to outside schools. So don’t expect any sharp turn towards Florida State.

Randy Shannon, Florida’s interim, as a head coach doesn’t exactly instill confidence in the on-field product. His stint in Miami from 2007-10 was marked by mediocrity. His defensive coordinating ability is fine, but defense was never Florida’s problem in the first place.

That being said, he does have head coaching experience, and the players might rally around each other and find some momentum. They could just as easily throw in the towel. There’s no point in looking for solid answers about how Florida will play from here on out — much less how it will play when Florida State comes to town in late November.

Instead, what could perhaps have the most impact on Florida State is the level of expectations.

No, McElwain getting fired does not mean Fisher is getting fired anytime soon. If for nothing else, his buyout is already very expensive.

But it does force Florida State administration to consider the question: what will be acceptable from Fisher in the near future?

Right now, it would be ridiculous and absurd for the administration to fire Fisher. Even if he went 3-8 on the season, it would be premature to let him go.

But what about 2018?

What if Florida State only wins nine games and are once again left out of the ACC Championship? What if it does even worse? Then 2019 could be the “ultimate test” to see if Fisher truly has returned to form. Fan ire would be at pretty high levels considering the Seminoles wouldn’t have been a national contender for nearly four years.

McElwain and his tenure at Florida show just how quickly the tide can turn. Before the season, talks of him getting fired were met with incredulity and promptly dismissed. Seven games into the season and it became a legitimate position.

In many ways, McElwain’s firing reminds everyone of how high the standard is at the major Florida programs. Everything is a “what have you done for me lately” business. Fans and boosters seemingly don’t care about your results even just two seasons ago. The minute you start slipping, you will be put under the microscope.

Can Fisher make the changes he needs and avoid the fate of his Florida counterpart? Or will he go down with the ship? Time will tell, but Fisher will and should be afforded that time.

One Comment

  1. finance85

    October 31, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Florida cutting McElwain loose mid-season allows them to get a jump on hiring a new coach.

    Effects on recruiting are a mixed bag. For some kids it doesn’t matter. For some kids the relationship with the position coach matters the most. For others, it’s about potential for early playing time. For some it’s about playing for a potential championship team.

    Effects on coaching staff changes is interesting. Jimbo will now have to compete against UF for assistant coaches. Both schools will need coaches who can recruit, and specifically who can recruit the state of Florida. Dawsey typically recruits the Tampa area, which is a tough area for FSU. Recruiting in SoFLa is critical. Also, UF will need coaches who can coach offense. FSU needs coaches on both sides of the ball, though the Haggins and Lawing do a pretty good job on D, and Brewster and Graham do OK on O. One of FSU’s coaches will need to be able to coach special teams as well.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply