Florida State defensive coordinator candidates

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday November 28, 2012

Posted by: Chris Vannini on November 28, 2012

With Mark Stoops taking the head coaching job at Kentucky on Tuesday, one of the most appealing assistant coaching jobs is open: defensive coordinator at Florida State.

Jimbo Fisher pays his assistants well, and said earlier in the month he wants FSU to become a launching pad for assistants to head coaching jobs. That has continued with Stoops.

This will be Fisher's biggest hire. If the Seminoles want to win a national championship in the coming seasons, they'll need to bring in the right guy to run a defense full of NFL talent right now. FSU is No. 2 in total defense and No. 7 in scoring defense this year.

Fisher wants a coach who likes to bring pressure and use multiple coverages, instead of a base defense that can go the bend-but-don't-break route. Jimbo won't be held back by money for this hire. He'll go with experience and he'll go big on this hire.

Here are four candidates who could emerge for the job.

Manny Diaz (Texas - defensive coordinator / linebackers): An FSU graduate, Diaz was a GA at the school from 1998-99 and won a national championship under Bobby Bowden. Before coming to Texas in 2011, he did a fantastic job turning the defense around at Mississippi State in 2010. Coaches don't normally leave Texas for a similar-level job, but if there was ever a time to leave Austin, it's now. The Texas defense was ranked No. 11 in total defense in 2011, but is down to No. 80 in 2012, but part of that reasoning might be out of Diaz's control.

Geoff Collins (Mississippi State - co-defensive coordinator / linebackers): Although Collins doesn't call the plays for the Bulldogs, he did an incredible job at FIU before coming to Starkville. He turned one of the nation's worst defenses at FIU into the best in the Sun Belt. He has spent time at UCF, so he has plenty of ties to the state, and he spent one year in an off-the-field role at Alabama under Nick Saban, so he knows how that operation works. He also knows people on the FSU staff.

Bob Shoop (Vanderbilt - defensive coordinator / safeties): He doesn't have much experience in the deep South, but Shoop is becoming a hot name in the region. Vanderbilt's turnaround under James Franklin has been keyed by the Commodores' defense. In 2011, Vandy was No. 18 in total defense and No. 29 in scoring defense in Shoop's first year. This season, the 'Dores are No. 18 in total defense and scoring defense.

Ellis Johnson (Southern Miss - former head coach): After an 0-12 season and subsequent dismissal after his first season at Southern Miss, Fisher might not go this route, but Johnson has won plenty of games as a defense coach in the SEC. Johnson was the defensive coordinator at South Carolina from 2008-11 and helped the Gamecocks build on the nation's top defenses. South Carolina reached the SEC Championship Game in 2010.


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Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to chris@coachingsearch.com

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.

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