Florida State is searching for a new offensive coordinator after the departure of Walt Bell to UMass.
FSU coach Willie Taggart is looking to make a quick hire with the early signing period starting in two weeks (Dec. 19-21), but he also needs to make the right hire after the Seminoles’ disastrous 2018 season.
The Seminoles averaged just 21.9 points per game in 2018 and just 5.1 yards per play (110th nationally).
So who are the candidates to get the FSU offense back on track?
Freeze has been the top candidate for the job since Bell left. He’s been out of coaching since being fired from Ole Miss in 2016 after an escort scandal, but is considered one of the top offensive minds in college football.
The Rebels were 39-25 under Freeze, 49, and had their first 10-win season since 2003 in 2015. The program went 6-18 in the two years before Freeze was hired.
Freeze called the plays for an explosive Ole Miss offense that averaged over six yards per play in each of his final four seasons. The Rebels averaged 30 points or more per game in four of his five seasons as head coach.
His offense was ranked fourth in college football in 2015 averaging 7.07 yards per play and averaged 40.8 points per game (8th).
His offense was ranked in the Top-20 of the offensive S&P+ rankings three times during his five years and inside the Top-10 (8th) in 2015. His offense’s average ranking over his five years was 25.6.
Freeze has also been connected with the offensive coordinator positions at Alabama and Tennessee as well as the head coaching job at Liberty.
Briles, 36, is one of the best offensive playcallers in college football. He’s currently the offensive coordinator at Houston and just signed a contract extension with the Cougars.
Houston finished this season with the 11th ranked offense in yards per play (6.77) and the 11th ranked offense in the S&P+.
In his one year as the offensive coordinator at FAU, Briles’ offense finished sixth in the S&P+ rankings.
The reason that he’s not been connected to better jobs despite his offense’s success is that he’s tied to the Baylor sexual assault scandal.
Briles, the son of former Baylor coach Art Briles, coached at Baylor from 2008-2016.
He may be the best offensive coordinator on the board, but his hire would bring quite a bit of negative publicity to the program if he was the choice.
Sanford, 36, was just fired as the head coach at Western Kentucky after two seasons, but he’s still considered to be a very good offensive coordinator.
Prior to his stint at WKU, Sanford was the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame from 2015-2016 and at Boise State in 2014.
His offenses ranked 36th (2016), 11th (2015), and 14th (2014) in the S&P+ rankings during his three years as an offensive coordinator.
Sanford’s offenses at Western Kentucky were abysmal ranking 77th and 119th, but his production at Notre Dame and Boise when he just ran the offense is good enough to have him in consideration.
Sanford worked with Taggart at Stanford in 2007-2008.
Fedora, 56, was recently fired as the head coach at North Carolina, but when it comes to running an offense, Fedora was once considered one of the best in college football.
He’s coached at UNC for the past seven seasons where his offense averaged an offensive S&P+ ranking of 42.3.
The last two years of his tenure at UNC when he dealt with numerous injuries drag that down. He had five different quarterbacks throw at least one pass in 2018. Three quarterbacks threw more than 70 passes for the Tar Heels in 2017.
In his first five seasons his offense’s average ranking was 28.8 with no offense ranked lower than 38th. His highest ranked offense came in 2015 (17th).
He’s been an offensive coordinator at the major college football level as well running the Oklahoma State offense from 2005-2006 and Florida’s offense in 2004. He was the head coach at Southern Miss from 2007-2011 before leaving for UNC.
No coach should ever be hired just to bring in one recruit, but Fedora’s relationship with FSU’s four-star quarterback commit Sam Howell would offset the loss of Bell, who was Howell’s primary recruiter.