8 factors to keep in mind for Florida International's coaching search

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday October 06, 2016


FIU was the first FBS school to make a head coaching change during the 2016 season, as Ron Turner was dismissed after an 0-4 start.

It's still a relatively new program, and one that has seen little success. How could this search play out, and what could change things? As the process develops, keep track of the latest updates on our FIU page. Here are 8 factors to keep in mind for FIU.

1. Will this all be athletic director Pete Garcia’s decision?

Fans called for an AD change, and the school announced Garcia’s contract was extended through July 2018, when he will step down. That means the next head coach will get a new athletic director heading into their second year. Garcia has been the AD since 2006 and was criticized for dismissing Mario Cristobal after a 3-9 season in 2012, one year removed from two bowl games. Then Turner didn’t work out. Will other school officials play a role in this hire since Garcia is on his way out?

2. What type of candidate will be interested?

Just because it’s in south Florida doesn’t mean it’s a very appealing job. Manny Diaz turned down interest back in 2012 when he was at Texas. Would local Power 5 assistants be interested? Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins interviewed for UCF last year, but makes nearly $1 million. Turner inherited a team with some off-field issues, but given Cristobal was dismissed so soon after rare success, how much patience will the next coach get?

3. How much is FIU willing to pay?

Turner earned abut $605,000 in 2015, which was in the middle of Conference USA. But with how assistant salaries have risen, coaches don’t need to jump to a head coaching job to make that kind of money anymore. That’s higher than Charlie Partridge, who earns $525,000 at Florida Atlantic, but compare Turner’s salary to UCF, where head coach Scott Frost earns $1.7 million.

4. Will ties to Florida be a requirement?

Cristobal had deep Miami recruiting ties, but Turner didn’t, coming from the NFL. With how much high school talent there is in south Florida, will FIU keep its candidate pool to someone who knows the area?

5. Will it be the only open FBS job in Florida?

Miami and UCF changed coaches last year. What if FAU makes a change? What if Willie Taggart leaves USF for a bigger job? If Jimbo Fisher leaves Florida State, what would happen with his assistants? FIU is at the bottom of the pecking order in the state.

6. Is FIU looking for head coaching experience?

Cristobal didn’t have head coaching experience, and Turner had once taken Illinois to a Sugar Bowl. Will FIU look more at up-and-coming assistants or want head coaching experience? Florida State tight ends coach Tim Brewster, Florida linebackers coach Randy Shannon and former Miami head coach Butch Davis (who is close with Garcia) would bring head coaching experience if in the mix.

7. There’s no indoor practice facility.

With a hurricane affecting the Southeast, it’s worth noting FIU is the only FBS school in Florida without an indoor facility or plans to build one. Miami and FAU have plans in the works. FIU’s facilities are not good, though a football operations building opened in 2009.

8. How quickly can FIU get a deal done?

By dismissing Turner, FIU has a head start on finding the next coach, but that doesn’t always mean you have a coach in place shortly after the regular season ends. Mark Richt to Miami came together quickly last year, as did Kirby Smart to Georgia, but South Carolina was one of the later schools to fill its opening despite getting that mid-season head start. There are a lot more changes coming in the next few weeks, and they could affect the direction of FIU's search.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.