Nov. 3, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mickey Andrews, the defensive coordinator behind Florida State’s 14-year football dynasty, didn’t have to look far to find one of the reasons he’s spent 26 years with the Seminoles.
With his FSU defensive players standing behind him following Tuesday’s practice, Andrews addressed the reasons behind his decision to retire at the end of the season.
“As much as I love Florida State and love these guys back here, time has just got so important for me now,” said Andrews, who along with his wife Diane are helping raise grandchildren. “I can’t coach football and do what I need to do with the responsibilities that I’ve got now. It’s going to be hard on us, but it’s just time; it’s time for it to happen.”
Andrews and his wife had come to the decision last year, but they opted to put off a formal announcement. Florida State coach Bobby Bowden had hoped to convince one of college football’s most respected defensive minds to stick around.
“He thought it over real good and needs to be with his family,” Bowden said. “I’ll miss him. He’s been out there for 26 years and I think all of the success we’ve had since he’s been here, a lot of it – maybe most of it – is because the job he’s done.
“I didn’t even want him to give me an answer yet.”
But Andrews informed Bowden Monday that he was going to step aside following the season, and made his decision public after months of speculation about his future Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s just like part of your family; he and his wife, both,” Bowden said. “They did such a great her with their civic life as well as their football life; they became part of the community. I hope they stick around Tallahassee.”
If Andrews sticks around town as he plans, he can count on visitors, like former FSU All-American defensive tackle Corey Simon. Simon attended Tuesday night’s practice and said he’s got fishing plans with his former coach.
“We’ve been talking about (fishing) for years and now we have that opportunity,” Simon said. “I’m going to cherish the time we get to spend off the field.”
Simon provided some unique perspective on what Andrews has meant to Florida State, former players and himself.
“He’s seen many a young man come through this program and he’s given a piece of himself to every one of them,” said Simon, who starred on FSU’s 1999 national championship team. “He’s had to sacrifice. He’s done his time coaching. A man like that, who has brought as much to the game as he has, deserves to determine when he walks away.
“He’s doing it for all the right reasons. He’s paid the piper. Now he gets to spend some time with his grandkids and be the family man he wants to be.”
Throughout his career, Andrews has considered the football team and his defensive players, especially, an extension of his family. That has shone through despite his sometimes-gruff demeanor. Former stars Terrell Buckley and Deion Sanders, among others, said as much earlier Tuesday when the news of Andrews’ retirement became public.
Simon said what he cherishes most from his years at FSU goes way beyond the practice and playing field experiences.
“I think because caoch Andrews has been so much to so many men that have come through here, the camera never gets to see the love and compassionate side of Mickey Andrews,” Simon added. “Those are the things I look back on.
“What goes on out here, stays out here and he moves forward being the husband, the father – the father to many of us that have come through this program. Those are the times I look back on him and what he’s brought to Florida State and college football.”
Andrews choked back his emotions when asked what it meant to have his players stand behind him as he addressed the media.
“I don’t know if anybody could be more fortunate to have a job like I do with the coaches that I work with and these guys back here,” he said. “I fuss at them a lot of times and say things I ought not to say, but they know I love them and I just want the best for them.”
Those mutual feelings were evident as Andrews shared hugs with his current players and coaches, including defensive line coach Odell Haggins. Haggins arrived at FSU 20 years ago as a freshman linebacker and has spent nearly half of his life at Andrews’ side. That’s exactly how they left the practice field Tuesday night, heading back inside to the office.
There’s a game to be played at Clemson on Saturday and work to be done.