With only a week or so to go before National Signing Day FSU lost one of its best recruiters in tight end coach and recruiting coordinator John Lilly. Not long after, Noledigest broke the news of a replacement for Coach Lilly with FIU Offensive Coordinator James Coley. The FIU coach has ties to the Florida State coaching staff when Jimbo Fisher was at LSU. Coley was a graduate assistant at LSU before joining Nick Saban with the Miami Dolphins. After a stop with the Miami Dolphins, Coley became the offensive coordinator with the Golden Panthers. We had the opportunity to speak with him recently about his move to Tallahassee. Here is what Coach Coley had to tell Nole Digest.
Coach Coley can you tell Seminole fans a little about yourself?
I am from Miami. I played football at Miami High and decided to attend College at Florida State. After graduating at Florida State, I got into coaching football at Miami High. I had the opportunity to coach players like Roscoe Parrish and Andre Johnson. After Miami High, I became offensive coordinator at Norland High School. We went on to win a State Championship against Orlando Edgewater. At Norland we had former LSU tiger and Kansas City Chief Receiver Dwayne Bowe.
After you left Miami Norland you joined the LSU staff. What was it like working with Nick Saban both in college and the NFL? What part of your experience at LSU did you enjoy most?
Working with Coach Saban was a great experience. He is so organized and structured. Everything from practice, to how he plans each day was so structured. He felt that if you were that way during the week that on Saturdays or Sundays everything else would be easy. Coach Saban is like a machine. He does not stop until he gets things done.
The part of the LSU experience I enjoyed the most was working with Will Muschamp and Jimbo Fisher. Both are great coaches and I learned a lot from them at LSU.
You have worked with Jimbo in the past and now get a chance to do so again. How would you compare him to Mario Cristobal and Nick Saban?
All three are very intense, passionate and structured. They are motivators and I have tried to take all the best traits of each of them and put it into my own style of coaching. They are all different in many ways but also the same in other ways. Each gets the job done.
What do you look forward to most now that you have moved on to Florida State?
Getting the opportunity to work with Coach Bobby Bowden. I would have never thought I would have gotten the chance to work with him. It will be a privilege to get the opportunity to work with Coach Bowden. I am also looking forward to working with Coach Rick Trickett, Lawrence Dawsey and Dexter Carter. Going against guys like Mickey Andrews and Chuck Amato in practice will also be great.
I also look forward to working with the players that Florida State just brought in on National Signing Day.
What is the difference between recruiting at FIU compared to that of LSU or FSU?
At FIU we recruited a great class. I don't want to take anything away from the players we just brought in. Many of them can play at major colleges. Guys like John Jackson (Booker T. Washington) could have played at Miami, Florida State or Florida. The main difference is the size of the recruiting pool that you have to choose from. Each of those schools is established. Down the road in a few years FIU will start to compete with the other big programs. Not only that but being at Florida State brings instant credibility. You go into a prospects home or school and they know what Florida State is all about. We would have done the same at FIU but it would have taken a few years. At Florida State they have gone through those growing pains a while back.
Being from Miami many Seminoles fans will want to know what it will be like to coach against the Hurricanes.
Coaching against Miami will be great. At the same time every game is important. It does not matter if it is Clemson, Miami, Florida, Wake Forrest or Boston College, each game is big. We need to beat each of those teams.
Can you tell us about your experience at FIU and how tough it was to leave that program behind.
It was very tough to leave behind. Coach Cristobal and I became very close friends. He gave me the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator at FIU. I am very loyal to him and feel grateful for the chance he gave me. Mario is a leader, he is a great person and someone that I enjoyed working with. Telling him that I was leaving to Florida State was not easy.
What do you take away from your experience at FIU?
I learned a lot from that experience. It was not easy last year on any of us coaches. Coming from LSU, you are used to competing for National Championships and SEC Championships. We got to FIU and it was building a program from the ground up. I feel all the coaches at FIU did a great job and it will eventually pay off. What was the best thing about the experience at FIU was working with kids that wanted to get better, coaches that were young and hungry, and guys that were willing to sacrifice everything to win.
How does the wife feel about the move Tallahassee and did you guys meet at Florida State?
No we met in Miami. My Wife also graduated from Florida State. She loves it in Tallahassee and looks forward to moving there. She is very excited to make the move.
What area will you be recruiting in?
I will be recruiting South Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade County) and Houston, TX.
Coach Coley, thanks for your time we look forward to speaking with you again.
Thank You, I look forward to my time at Florida State. Go Noles.