Defensive Coordinator Search

With Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher signing another contract extension yesterday, expect the replacement for Mark Stoops to be named relatively soon. Defensive coordinator is just one of the assistant coaching positions to be filled, but it is by far the most important. Here's a look at some of the possible candidates.

Fisher pays his assistants very well, and he does so for good reason. In order to keep up with the best you have to pay with the best. Expect this hire to rival the pay of some of the top coordinators in all of college football. Fisher has never been shy about openly stating that he wants his program to become a launching pad for assistant coaches.

The first thing Fisher wants in his next defensive coordinator is someone who is aggressive and likes to bring pressure as opposed to the bend-but-don't-break style. He will also look to hire someone with experience. Here's a list of five candidates out there to possibly fill the void left from Mark Stoops departure.

Ellis Johnson has to be near the top of the list after being dismissed from Southern Miss a week ago and Fisher will certainly give him a look. I did a feature on Johnson yesterday profiling the basics of his base 4-2-5 system. Johnson has coached in the SEC for the majority of his career and has been a part of some great defenses. But, Johnson is 61 years old and Fisher will have to decide which route he wants to go. He can maintain some continuity on his staff for a while by hiring a guy like Johnson who has likely seen the end of his head coaching days. Or he can go after the young, up-and-coming coach that will likely move on to a bigger job eventually. Auburn's Gus Malzahn is also a potential landing spot for Johnson, as he was hired yesterday and will be looking to name his defensive coordinator relatively soon.

Manny Diaz is a name that would make a big splash, and would make a lot of sense if he's willing to leave Texas. Diaz is an FSU alumnus and was also a graduate assistant on the Seminoles 1998-99 squad. Diaz runs an aggressive scheme that is a turnover-producing machine involving a lot of blitzes. He has experience in both the SEC and Big 12. But there's no question that Florida State does not have the funds to compete with Texas if it came down to a bidding war. It's also rare for a coach to take a lateral move away from the Longhorns, but if there is a scenario for it to happen, it's now. With all the talks surrounding FSU moving to the Big 12 soon this would be make a huge statement. Could you imagine if FSU stole Diaz away from Texas and then a few days later announced that it will be joining the Big 12?

Charlie Partridge is a potential candidate for the job whose name has not been mentioned much. Partridge has been the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Wisconsin for the last two years. Partridge has roots in Florida and recruits it very well. With Bielema taking the Arkansas job, Partridge is definitely someone that he will look to keep, but having already named Chris Ash as his defensive coordinator, he wouldn't be able to outbid FSU if that's who Fisher wanted. Partridge base defense is a 4-3. Even if Partridge is not offered the defensive coordinator position, there is also a chance that Fisher could try to bring him in as the defensive ends coach to replace D.J. Eliot.

Bob Shoop is another name that has flown under the radar for the most part. Shoop is the current defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt and has been instrumental in the turnaround for the Commodores since James Franklin took over. Vanderbilt's defense has ranked in the top-35 the last two years, which is extremely difficult to do with much less talent and depth than your opponents. Shoop is also a defensive back's coach and runs a base 4-3 defense, although he also likes to run a variety of nickel coverage along with that. Shoop is 46 years old, but already has 10 years of coordinator experience. Shoop would be a great fit at FSU.

Geoff Collins is another name that could possibly be in the mix. Collins is the current co-defensive coordinator and linebacker's coach at Mississippi State. Collins is another guy that has a history in Florida as he turned around one the worst defenses in the nation at FIU, and has also spent time at UCF. Additionally, Collins was also the director of football operations under Nick Saban at Alabama for one season. Collins is also a very young coach at just 41 years old.

I would put these five as the most likely candidates to get the job, for now. Fisher has kept this search very close to the vest, or rather, kept the towel guys following him at all times. That said, there's always a good chance that Fisher goes outside the box after a name that nobody saw coming. Regardless, with Fisher's contract negotiations officially wrapped up, I expect to hear a name very soon.


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