TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – If Stan Wilcox had his way, he would have hired Florida State’s new head football coach “yesterday.”
Short of that, Wilcox will settle for having the new coach in place as quickly as he can.
Wilcox officially embarked on FSU’s first coaching search in 42 years Friday afternoon, when coach Jimbo Fisher’s resignation became official, and the process is already off and running.
Wilcox said that he, FSU president John Thrasher and Ed Burr, the president of the FSU board of trustees, have already discussed potential candidates.
“We should be able to move very, very fast,” Wilcox said after FSU’s 42-10 win over ULM on Saturday. “But we want to be very, very thorough, also, in our research in every coach that we take a look at.”
While news reports and social media are flush with names rumored to be among Wilcox’s top targets, he declined Saturday to offer any specific names and said that no single candidate is at the top of the pack.
He did, however, offer extensive criteria by which all potential coaches will be judged.
“Obviously (we want) a proven track record of winning, (and) a good understanding of Florida State,” Wilcox said first. “This is a destination place, and we want somebody that definitely wants to be here and continue the legacy that has been built here.
“We want someone who is able to build men out of the individuals that come here, that has a very good ability to recruit, and oversee, be a CEO of a major program. I could go on and on, but we have a laundry list of items that we’re looking for in a head coach, and I know that we’re going to be able to find the right person to lead this program.”
That last point about recruiting is particularly important.
Fisher’s success over the last eight years was built on the foundation of top-flight recruiting classes, many of them filled with Florida-born talent.
And the recruiting landscape within the state might be even more difficult now than it was in the early years of Fisher’s tenure.
Miami is on the rise under Mark Richt, Florida ought to get a boost with the hiring of Dan Mullen and both South Florida (Charlie Strong) and Florida Atlantic (Lane Kiffin) have dynamic coaches leading their programs.
And that’s to say nothing of heavyweight programs like Clemson, Georgia and Alabama, which regularly head south to stock their rosters.
Having lengthy ties to the Sunshine State isn’t necessarily a must for FSU’s new coach. But being able to pull top talent, particularly from the football-crazed South Florida, is.
“That’s what we’ve always been able to do, so I do think that is very important,” Wilcox said. “And there are some individuals that are just great recruiters, regardless of where they’re at.
“So, if they have a proven track record of being a great recruiter and great recruiting in the state of Florida and South Florida, that’s also going to be a very big criteria that we’re looking for.”
Wilcox also fielded questions about Fisher’s departure, and the back-and-forth negotiations that took place during the week-long saga.
For his part, Wilcox says he has no hard feelings toward Fisher, but that he also believes FSU has a bright future ahead.
And that it, along with the Seminoles’ new coach, will be here soon.
“Florida State has been built by some great individuals,” Wilcox said. “It’s not about one person. And we’re going to find the next leader that’s going to be able to fit into Florida State and fit with the facilities that we have, with all the resources that we have, and we’re going to continue to grow on an annual basis.
“And hopefully that coach is going to be able to grow with us.”