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Norvell Steps Into Spotlight at FSU

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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At his introductory press conference, Mike Norvell impressed fans and media with his vision.

For all of the traits new Florida State head coach Mike Norvell has, momentum is one of his best. The 38-year old former Memphis head coach comes to Tallahassee with a career record of 38-13, most recently going 12-1 and winning the American Athletic Conference with the Tigers. This season, Norvell-led Memphis defeated Ole Miss, Navy, nationally-ranked SMU and nationally-ranked Cinicinnati twice. He leaves for the Seminoles with his Tigers in the top 15 in the polls. Memphis will soon play in the Cotton Bowl.

Most national pundits, given that success and Norvell's potential, gave the hiring high grades.

Norvell takes over a Florida State program in transition. The end of the Willie Taggart era, with the former Western Kentucky, South Florida and Oregon head coach being given less than two full seasons in charge, was controversial. Furthermore, the search that followed, as is often the case with prominent openings, was drama filled. Now the new face of the Seminoles, Norvell steps in the spotlight at one of the premier jobs in the country. Florida State is just six years removed from a national championship and has a brand that resonates from coast-to-coast. After three disappointing years, however, there is mounting pressure to win big once again.

Though without the resume of Oklahoma legend Bob Stoops, an early rumor that consumed the message boards and social media, Norvell has an impressive resume all his own. A Texas-native and former player at Central Arkansas, Norvell, in recent years, has been the co-offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh, offensive coordinator at Arizona State and the head coach at Memphis since 2016. A noted playcaller, Norvell's Tigers will enter the postseason ranked 8th in scoring offense and 10th in total offense. 

The opportunities and challenges waiting at Florida State are clear. Norvell now leads a traditional power, a roster with plenty of talent and a program with championship infrastructure. That said, there is a yearning for yesteryear in Tallahassee. Winning at a high level is the expectation; the Seminoles are looking for a return to the top after over 30 years of the iconic Bobby Bowden and mostly more of the same, including a national title, under Jimbo Fisher. Quite frankly, it's been a couple of generations since Florida State has traditionally fired a coach and searched nationwide for a replacement. Norvell is in the spotlight. 

Moving forward, Norvell will have to assemble his staff and hit the ground running ahead of the pre-Christmas early signing period for recruiting. The sprint, making his pitch to high school prospects, starts now. ACC Atlantic Division member Clemson and in-state rival Florida await as big picture barometers for Norvell and Florida State. For now, though, the Seminoles are looking for stability, part of the reason Norvell was given a six-year contract.

At his introductory press conference, Norvell impressed fans and media with his vision. Not long after stepping foot in Doak Campebll Stadium, he immediately starting meeting with former players. Norvell is quickly settling in. Now in garnet-and-gold, it's now time to garnet-and-go.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports