Signing Day in college football is still a few weeks away, but you can shut down the ratings right now because Bobby Bowden at Florida State has had the best recruiting class by a mile and it doesn’t matter which 18-year-olds put their names on the dotted line come February 6th.
You won’t see this ranking on Rivals.com or Scout.com, but Bowden, in the midst of his most tumultuous and discouraging season in over 30 years at Florida State, needed a near total oaching staff overhaul and hit three home runs and a couple of solid doubles this off-season.
New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jimbo Fischer – in recruiting parlance – five star guy. Everyone in the nation wanted him. He replaces the laughably inept Jeff Bowden as coordinator and the equally ridiculous Daryl Dickey as QB coach.
New offensive line coach Rick Trickett, another five star get. Universally accepted as one of the top handful of guys at that position in all of college football; he’ll take over for the disastrous Mark McHale.
Former Seminole stars Lawrence Dawsey and Dexter Carter return as wide receivers and running backs coach respectively, Dawsey is an up and comer in the coaching profession, Carter is a long time NFL player – they add youth and energy and minority members to a staff of seasoned, proven standouts.
The coups-de-grace this week: the return of Chuck Amato to replace the outstanding and off-to-Alabama Kevin Steele as linebackers coach and executive head coach, whatever that means.
Grand, freaking, slam!
If you were playing fantasy assistant college football coaching staff, you couldn’t do any better than this. If Bobby Bowden had taken a pad and paper out at the end of the season and written down his ideal choice to fill each of these vacancies – and daydreamed a little bit projecting guys who may well not be available – he wouldn’t have done any better there than what he pulled off in real life.
Bobby Bowden has sprung a number of Signing Day coups and come out on top more than his fare share of the time when it came to landing great high school football players, but he’s never done a better job as a recruiter than this.
Bowden went into the off-season needing an offensive coordinator a quarterbacks coach an offensive line coach and a linebackers coach and he got arguably the best one available at each spot, and augmented them with two Seminole legacies to further reenergize the program.
The last time a leader went out and recruited such high caliber lieutenants to lead his team on the field after a disappointing campaign, Abraham Lincoln tabbed Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman to take over the Union forces in the Civil War.
It can not be overstated how important this off-season was to the future of Florida State Football – not just it’s future as long as Bobby Bowden is there, but it’s long term future in the ever evolving landscape of college football – and how remarkable a job Bowden did in landing all of these guys, any one of which alone would have been splendid.
Bobby Bowden may have assured himself the all time wins record in college football this month because with a group of coordinators and assistant coaches this competent and motivated, especially compared to the clowns some of them replace, the Seminoles are poised to return to the sport’s mountaintop.
Chuck Amato back on the sidelines at Florida State! How cool is that? Will he wear gold shoes? I loved Kevin Steele and the job he did, but Steele only brought the Noles back to where Amato left it when he went to N.C. State to coach the Wolfpack.
How good is the FSU job? How well respected is Bobby Bowden? How highly thought of is that program? You just took away the offensive coordinator from LSU, a top 5 team, the offensive line coach from West Virginia, a top 10 team and the former head coach at N.C. State, a guy who, while I thought should be fired, was far from a disaster and coached one of your rival schools and beat you regularly.
It’s always a crap shoot gauging how good high school stars are going to be once they get to college and even the best programs have about a 50-50 washout rate, but each of these guys has proven himself in this business for 10 years or more. There’s no question if they’ll succeed at Florida State because they’ve succeeded everywhere else, the only two questions are how quickly and to what degree?
Ask the folks at Arkansas how important all those recruiting rankings were last year that had them in the top 10 with QB Mitch Mustain who’s now going to transfer after having played a total of eight games for the Razorbacks. Ask Florida State fans how important those lists are that said wideout Fred Rouse would light up the nation.
Some highly sought after kids pan out, some don’t, but I’ll take a great coaching staff and a bunch of three star players over a bunch of five star players and a three star coaching staff any day. Fact is, FSU’s recruiting has been just as good as anyone’s the past five or six years, it was their half star coaching staff that took the Noles down the drain.
Jaime Newberg and Mike Ferrell and Tom Lemming – and I like all those guys – they’ll honk and snort and opine about 100 different kids from all over the country and they’ll rate them all and rank them all and list the teams and they’ll be right on some things and way off on others and none of them will spend a twentieth the time discussing Fisher, Trickett and Amato to Florida State as they will some five star offensive lineman out of St. Augustine, but I will guarantee you the three names I just listed that are going to Tallahassee to coach will have a bigger impact on their program than any three kids anywhere in America going anywhere else to play. Mark that down.
The only thing that could worry you as a Florida State fan is that it seems too good to be true. We didn’t seriously get Jimbo, Trickett and Chuck back did we? No way, right?
Nothing that appears this sure fire, dead pan, locked in to succeed ever does, does it?
It has a little bit of a “We’re getting the band back together feel.” You remember the movie “Blues Brothers” where Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi have to raise money to save their orphanage or whatever so they decide to reform their old band. It’s funny as a movie premise, but will the theory work in college football?
The hope certainly is that the old members and the new can make the same sort of music that was heard at the Doak in the ‘90s.
The concern is that with all these great coaches on staff, they’ll take the success for granted and forget the hard work and dedication and drive it took to make them so successful in the first place. Then again, and this is possible, maybe I’m just someone who can find grey clouds in a sky no matter how blue it is. Amato would surely like to resuscitate his reputation in the ACC and stick it to the Wolfpack because he can be a head coach for a BCS school again. Jimbo Fisher wants a big head coaching job one day, he can’t take anything for granted; this is his shot. Rick Trickett doesn’t have a national title. While these guys are all successful, they’ve got a lot of reasons to work as hard as ever. And so does Bobby Bowden.
I publicly questioned Bowden this season and wondered if he was the right person to continue leading the football program. Had he gotten too old and soft and committed to his failure of a son? Bobby was too committed to Jeff from a coaching standpoint and Jeff had to be removed, forcibly, by the Booster club in what was a somewhat ugly, but totally necessary ordeal. From that day however, Bowden has proven, beyond any question, he has the nerve and the vision and the capacity to get Florida State where it belongs and that is side by side competing every year with Florida and USC and Ohio State for national championships.
You bang the message boards for gossip and leans and decommits and crash Youtube for grainy recruiting tape on pimple-faced safeties from Colquitt, I already know who landed the best class this off-season, it was Bobby Bowden with the bunch of grown men he’s bringing to Florida State.