Mike Norvell

Back To Earth

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I’ve gone on record multiple times saying Norvell is a not very good coach.

He is a poor evaluator of talent with an average offensive mind. I think his energy and intensity are admirable and contagious, however he appears to be a poor recruiter when compared to his successful predecessors.

Having said all that, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say these next six games will determine Norvell’s future at FSU.

After losing two games in a row, the Seminoles are 4-2 and can still finish with a much-improved season. Saying that, there’s very little margin for error moving forward.

If the Seminoles fall to No. 4 Clemson this Saturday (they’re only a 4 to 4.5-point underdog), they must win at least three of those five for this season for their season to feel like a step in the right direction for the program.

Anything better than 3 wins will promote eight or more wins for the season, and that would give them a ton of momentum heading into recruiting season.

Anything worse will feel like treading water at best, and that’s not a good place to be for 3 years.

To finish strong, FSU must get back to playing the way they did in weeks one through four. Other than Louisiana, sure fire wins are looking slim on the schedule.

Florida and Miami are arch rivals with plenty of talent, so you know those will be hard-fought games.

Looking closely in the ACC, Syracuse is one of 2022’s biggest surprises with a 5-0 record.

We will learn plenty about the Orange in the next two weeks, as they face N.C. State and Clemson back-to-back.

Georgia Tech is now showing major improvement since firing head coach Geoff Collins; the Jackets have won their last two games to improve to 3-3 and 2-1 in the ACC. With this in mind, will FSU take the backseat in CFB and become a basketball school once and for all?

Getting back on track, after blowing a 14-point lead in the second half at N.C. State, the Seminoles return home for No. 4 Clemson this Saturday.

Can the Seminoles turn things around after back-to-back losses? Can Travis and the offense get back on track and get moving? Last week, Norvell again took full responsibility for the loss by the way.

Football coaches who accept full responsibility for losses are usually stand-up guys. Coaches who accept full responsibility for losses again and again and again are known as former coaches.

The 4-0 start was great. Realistically, it won’t be remembered if their performance this second half of this season looks like these last two weeks. They’ll be remembered as a dumpster fire.

Clemson and FSU had one of the top rivalries in the ACC for years, but it seems one-sided recently.

The Clemson Tigers have won six in a row between the two programs, including a 30-20 home win last season.

Clemson is trending up, showing improvement each week. FSU is trending… in the opposite direction.

Clemson 34   FSU 23

War Path

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Florida State football program has suffered a severe fall from grace over the past few seasons. With that newfound mediocrity, comes an automatic lack of promise entering this season.

Can the Florida State Seminoles take advantage of a manageable schedule and return to some relevance as a result? Or, will they once again fall victim to bigger fish in the Atlantic Coast Conference? Let’s find out.

Vs. Duquesne (W)

Sure, the Florida State Seminoles have seen better days than the ones currently surrounding them, but they haven’t fallen so far that this matchup is a toss-up. Anything less than a 40-point win here would be a darn shame, even for a season opener.

Vs. LSU (L)

The LSU Tigers may have seen a downgrade in 2021, but they will be led into New Orleans by new head coach Brian Kelly. With that said, there is a very small chance that the Noles come out of this one with a win. Kelly should take this one by two or three scores, making an early impact in his still-young tenure at LSU.

@ Louisville (L)

Following a dog fight in New Orleans with LSU fails to make things any easier. The bye week placed between the games will help, but not really. The Noles will lose a close one here.

Vs. Boston College (W)

BC will be heading to Tallahassee while Florida State is desperate to make an impression. Expect a convincing Noles win from this one.

Vs. Wake Forest (L)

To put things delicately, the Demon Deacons were not nice to FSU last season. In a 35-14 loss that included a plethora of turnovers, the Seminoles were dealt what ended up being their worst loss of 2021. The Noles may not lose by 21 again, but a disheartening defeat is almost a guarantee, nonetheless.

@ North Carolina State (L)

Now FSU will travel to Raleigh, where they have not prevailed since 2016. If Wake Forest is going to down the Noles on the road, what NC State has in store for them at home the very next week feels almost unimaginable.

Vs. Clemson (L)

Boy, the punches just keep on coming. The Tigers are still expected to be a top-tier contender in the ACC for 2022. And especially with who all they will face leading up to this game, the Seminoles will fail to stay at Clemson’s level .

Vs. Georgia Tech (W)

Finally, we can see a rainbow through the storm. Most GT fans will probably end up praying for this one to end as soon as possible.

@ Miami (L)

Nothing about this matchup leaves the Seminoles with a positive outlook when entering it. Yes, they won the 2021 battle, but the Hurricanes have new head coach Mario Cristobal and they also look like the better team.

Due to the stigma of any big rivalry, the game will probably be closer than it should be. However, Miami should still be the victor by the time the game clock hits zero.

@ Syracuse (W)

This won’t be a blowout, but the Noles are a better team.

Vs. Louisiana (W)

The game should start out good, but FSU will most likely pull away in the second half.

Vs. Florida (L)

The Gators have also won the last three meetings with the Seminoles. The Gators will keep Florida State out of the bowl season again. The Gators are more talented and better coached. This game will not be close.


The Florida State Seminoles will finish their 2022 regular season slate with a final record of 5-7. It will be their 3rd-straight season without a bowl appearance, and their 5th-straight season with a losing record.

The Real Question:

Will Mike Norvell keep his job if my predictions come true?

Florida State Semi-Nos Recruiting

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Seminoles having a knockout season in 2022 looks to be an unrealistic expectation.

But progress is progress. Finishing above .500 for the first time since 2017 could help them significantly improve their recruiting efforts.

None of FSU’s recruiting classes under head coach Mike Norvell and since 2019 have finished in the top 15 nationally, per 247Sports and Rivals. Under former Seminole’s head coaches Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher, top 10 classes were the standard.

In an effort to improve recruiting, FSU added three off-field staff members this offseason: GM Darrick Yray, Director of Football Relations Corey Fuller, and Assistant Director of High School Relations Keiwan Ratliff.

These hires, along with top in-state recruiting could be the key to the Seminoles elevating their recruiting prowess.

In each of Norvell’s three recruiting cycles, FSU has finished below Miami and Florida in the overall team rankings.

247Sports pegged the Hurricanes at No. 18, 12 and 15 in the 2020-2022 classes, respectively. The Gators came in at No. 7, 13 and 17. The Seminoles landed at 25, 31 and 18.

To have a solid recruiting operation again, FSU will need to compete better against its in-state rivals. Especially when Miami and Florida struggle.

Head coaches Mario Cristobal and Billy Napier are hired. That may have enhanced the in-state recruiting competition.

Until that happened, Norvell was the best head coach recruiter in the state. So, it’s gotten competitive now for top in-state targets, because Mario Cristobal lives and breathes recruiting. He does a tremendous job – as good as any head coach at communicating with top targets.

Billy Napier is as organized of a head coach as you are going to find with their recruiting infrastructure as well. It just got a lot more competitive.

We’ve seen college football be great when all three of those teams have been great. So, you can live in a world where Florida, Miami and Florida State are all terrific football programs. We are just so far removed from that right now.

As FSU tries to build off a topsy-turvy 5-7 record heading into their third season under coach Mike Norvell, the Seminoles’ biggest recent splashes came once again through the transfer portal.

A year after landing transfers such as Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas, who would prove to be standout starters on defense, FSU landed seven transfers it hopes will add explosiveness to its offense including four wide receivers.

Oregon transfer Mycah Pittman (5-11, 195), Illinois transfer Deuce Spann (6-4, 194), as well as 6-6, 224-pound Johnny Wilson add some needed depth at the position.

FSU might have found its next big contributor from Miami Central High through the portal as well. Former Rockets linebacker Tatum Bethune transferred from UCF in early January after three years with the Knights.

Bethune totaled 185 tackles including 13 for loss with 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles while playing in 35 games for the Knights, which included 16 starts.

Mike Norvell had the perfect storm this past recruiting cycle with Miami and Florida making coaching changes, but Norvell showed his inability to pull top tier talent to Tallahassee.

Stock Down on FSU and Mike Norvell.

The Bright Sunshine

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It has been cloudy in The Sunshine State for the Big Four (UF, FSU, UCF & Miami). All four teams recently suffered setbacks and the storm clouds are building up around a couple programs.

Miami and Florida State are on the list of programs with a name that inspires nostalgia and memorable expectations, but with little or no reference to recent big-time success.

Manny Diaz and Mike Norvell may not be on the “hot seat” right now, but with recent performances their seat will be red hot in no time.

Speculation about Diaz and Norvell seems sure to start. Who could replace them in Coral Gables and Tallahassee? If fans had their way, both would be gone immediately.

Here’s a realistic list of replacements, so you won’t see James Franklin, Deion Sanders, Mario Cristobal, or Urban Meyer on this list.

  1. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota head coach: Fleck has a 27-20 record with two bowl game wins that includes an Outback Bowl win over Auburn.

Fleck is known for his motto Row the Boat. I could see Fleck leaving Minnesota for a high-end job like Florida State or Miami. In some respects (as bad as things are at UM and FSU), Fleck could be rowing his boat in Florida water next year.

  1. Mark Stoops, Kentucky head coach: In his ninth season, Stoops has a 52-50 record.

The Wildcats are a basketball school, but Stoops has made them somewhat respectable. Stoops has ties to the last of Miami’s glory days; he was the defensive back coach under Larry Coker from 2001-2003.

Both teams would prefer Mark’s brother Bob, but among realistic candidates, they’ll settle with Mark.

  1. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina head coach: Chadwell hit the national radar with an 11-1 record in 2020.

Chadwell has built his system quickly during his time as a head coach. Coastal Carolina went from three, to five, to 11 wins in Chadwell’s first three seasons.

Coastal Carolina couldn’t afford to keep Chadwell if either Florida State or Miami came calling. Chadwell’s track record of building a winner will bring Power 5 money, so watch out for his name.

  1. Lane Kiffen, Ole’ Miss head coach: Kiffen has been the head coach for the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, Florida Atlantic Owls and his current gig with Ole’ Miss.

Kiffen is a relentless recruiter and offensive mastermind. His name will be thrown into discussion for every job opening in 2021.

He would be a perfect fit with both programs, because he knows the terrain and he’s a fierce competitor.

1.Tony Elliott, Clemson Offensive Coordinator:  This OC has been in talks for several jobs in past years.

He has been waiting for the right job and most importantly, a big-time job.

Elliott has the best resumé and accolades for a non-head coach. He is a respected recruiter in the South Florida area, and that is essential to building a college football program. If Elliott is to become a head coach, it will likely be a blue blood.

Getting the hires right for Miami and Florida State is extremely important for the trajectory of these once dominant programs.

Contrarily, this article can be for nothing if Miami and Florida State turn it around on the field with their current Head Coaches.

Fear The Spear?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It was a nightmare for Florida State football fans, it was their first EVER loss to an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) opponent, falling 20-17 to Jacksonville State, allowing a 59-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass as time expired.

It usually gets worse before it gets better, but Coach Mike Norvell has not shown anything on the field for me to suggest any upward trajectory. All Coach Norvell has done so far is apologize.

Coach Norvell said, “Did not have our team ready to play today.”  That was evident from the start of the game, UCF transfer McKenzie Milton had not one, but two touchdown throws dropped by Milik McClain and Keyshawn Helton.

The offense committed penalty after penalty and could not find a rhythm. For most of the game, Florida State’s defense was solid, but undisciplined; blown coverages literally cost them the W. Six days after the moral (losers) victory against Notre Dame, FSU suffered the worst loss in program history.

College football today is becoming the land of haves and have nots. Florida State: yes, the Florida State that was not far removed from being a dominant program in college football in the mid 2010s, finds itself a ‘have not’ in the early 2020s.

In truth, I don’t know where Florida State goes from here. If you feel they hit rock bottom, then up, but could the program fall into the lower ranks of ‘has beens’ such as Nebraska, Texas and Miami?

Since Jimbo Fisher departed from Tallahassee, Florida State has been in the dumps, both financially and on the field. FSU fired Wille Taggart near the end of his second season and have now made their bed with Mike Norvell, who has 3 wins in 11 games so far.

Can Florida State afford to even consider another change this early on in Norvell’s tenure? Mike Norvell’s buyout is $18 million. Most coaches are given at least three seasons before trajectory dictates job security, but Florida State has already set precedent with Willie Taggart that they are unafraid to pull the plug on a failing coach.

Florida State owes Willie Taggart about $17 million for his buyout. The next month is extremely important for Norvell if he wants to keep his job in Tallahassee.

I entered the season predicting Florida State would go 6-6, and I’m no longer convinced that 6-6 is attainable.

Florida State currently has the 10th ranked recruiting class in the country. Recruits are singing the right tune at this moment. Fans have to continue to hope this class sticks together. But I’ve heard this tune before and so has the transfer portal.

Is Florida State a victim of high expectations that are no longer realistic? Besides Clemson, the ACC is not a great conference; and winning 8-10 games a year shouldn’t be too tall of a task.

Due to economics, Norvell is not on the hot seat in 2021. Norvell is in his second of his six-year deal, and his buyout is 85% of his remaining base salary.

I fear that Florida State is entering a cycle where they’re going to be so deep in a hole that climbing out of it and returning to a consistently great standard is going to be an insurmountable task.

Sharpened Spear?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After a very rough first year under Mike Norvell, the Florida State Seminoles looks to rebound behind UCF transfer quarterback McKenzie Milton.

Coach Norvell had a year to replenish the Noles’ roster with high profile transfers, and the Seminoles are hopeful for a substantial improvement over last year’s 3-6 record.

The transfer of star quarterback McKenzie Milton was the story of this offseason and it is a foregone conclusion that he’ll be the starter.

Milton was a Heisman contender at UCF, but he hasn’t played a game since sustaining a career threatening leg injury in 2018. A star in status may not return with star-level skill after something like that.

Due to some disastrous games in the 2020 season, Vegas does not think very highly of FSU, giving them just a 15.5% chance to win 6 games. With those odds, let’s take a look at their schedule:

Sept 6 vs Notre Dame: The Noles open the season on prime-time TV versus the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sunday night at 7:30. The home crowd should help the Noles play with a lot of energy, but the Fighting Irish have too much talent and will leave Tallahassee with a big win. ND 48 FSU 24.

Sept 11 vs Jacksonville State: The FCS Jacksonville State Gamecocks should be a win for FSU. Florida State has 3 games they must win if they want to be bowl eligible. This should be a walk in the park for the Noles. FSU 56 JS 13.

Sept 18 at Wake Forest: First road game of the season and FSU has more talent than Wake Forest. This is the first of a few toss up games for the Seminoles and should be a battle between McKenzie Milton and Sam Hartman, I anticipate a high scoring affair. FSU 48  Wake Forest 42  

Sept 25 vs Louisville: The second of four total toss up games and a must win for the Noles. This was a tough outing for FSU last year, ending in a 32-point blowout. FSU should look at this as a revenge game. FSU 38 Louisville 23

Oct 2 vs Syracuse:  If this was basketball, then there’s a need to be worried. This is football and this should be an easy win for the Noles. FSU 36  Syracuse 17

Oct 9 at North Carolina: Last year FSU shocked the Tar Heels at Doak Campbell Stadium, but either way I look at this game, it is not good for the Seminoles.

Sam Howell leads a high-powered North Carolina offense and the game will be played at Kenan Memorial Stadium.

This will be a respectful L for FSU, one that hopefully welcomes them back as a competitor in the ACC. North Carolina 44 FSU 20

Oct 23 vs UMass:  The Seminoles face their second FBS team, UMass happened to go 0-4 last season. This will be a blowout Homecoming special. FSU 64 UMass 13

Oct 30 at Clemson: Oh-NO!! After last season’s COVID canceled game, Dabo will take it out on Norvell. The Noles will wish this year’s game was also canceled hours before kickoff. Clemson has too much Champion-tier talent and it will trash FSU’s game plan from start to end. Clemson 52 FSU 13

Nov 6 vs NC State: Another toss up game. Thayer Thomas and the Wolfpack travel to Tallahassee and hand the Seminoles another home loss. NC State 38  FSU 24

Nov 13 vs Miami: The Hurricanes have dominated the Seminoles in the last four seasons, and the trend will continue this season. The U comes to town and leaves with another no doubt victory. Miami 57 FSU 27

Nov 20 at Boston College: Game four of the four toss up games. Milton and the Noles are too much for the Eagles. FSU 38  Boston College 16

Nov 27 at Florida: This is probably one of the biggest rivalry matchups of the season. The Gators have more talent on both sides of the ball and will show FSU no mercy. Florida 58 FSU 24

Record: 6-6

The 2021 season will be a turning point for FSU. Can they meet, or exceed expectations?

I believe the ceiling for FSU is 8 wins and the floor is 4. McKenzie Milton is the key to the season. If he stays healthy, FSU can reach their ceiling, if QB1 is QB done, expect 4-5 wins.

Saturday’s Buzzing Chant

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Mike Norvell era begins on Saturday September 12, 2020 against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

It’s game week for FSU football, which means it’s time for Coach Norvell to unveil his plan to get FSU back to relevancy.

After four seasons as the head coach at Memphis, Coach Norvell was hired to replace Willie Taggart.

FSU comes into the game week as a 12.5 point favorite against Georgia Tech.

One of the biggest questions going into the contest is Mike Norvell; is he the right person to lead FSU back to prominence?

The past two seasons FSU has struggled with costly penalties, turnovers, personnel, alongside other detailed issues.

The first offseason at a new school is always a challenge for a head coach, as they set out to install their offensive and defensive schemes. FSU’s culture and expectations for the program remains high.

This offseason has been even more complicated by COVID-19, Norvell was attempting to operate the offseason remotely. The trying nature of this offseason has taken the anticipation to perhaps an even higher level ahead of Saturday’s kickoff.

Saturday is a great opportunity for the FSU football team and Mike Norvell to show their fans, alumni and supporters that the program is in good hands and is heading in the right direction.

Watching Coach Norvell’s press conference on Monday, Coach Norvell never stopped smiling. He beams confidence and leadership. His job is to rebuild one of the most dominant college football programs from a deflating down period.

Don’t get me wrong, FSU is not competing for a National Championship or even an ACC Championship this season, but Coach Norvell must show positive results on the field. He will be playing his home games on Bobby Bowden Field.

Norvell will be facing a program in Georgia Tech with second year head coach Geoff Collins.

Georgia Tech coming off a very disappointing 3-9 campaign in 2019. The Yellow Jackets look to rebound in 2020.

Saturday’s game is a big game for both teams as the Jackets look to take a big step forward in year two of the Geoff Collins era, while FSU looks to get the Mike Norvell era off to a good start in his first game as the Seminoles head coach.

With both programs having plenty to prove, I expect things to be sloppy at times with missed tackles, blown assignments, and penalties on both teams.

I think it will be a fairly high scoring game, but we do have to take into account the lack of practice time.

The Seminoles biggest problem on offense last year was their offensive line which allowed a whopping 48 sacks, that’s a weakness that Georgia Tech must exploit to win.

Look for James Blackmon to stay upright and FSU’s team speed will be the difference in this matchup, as Florida State simply has too many talented weapons at their disposal and that leads tips the game heavily in favor of the Seminoles.

Final Score Prediction: FSU 34 Georgia Tech 13