Florida State hires Memphis' Mike Norvell as head coach

Florida State’s long, winding coaching search has come to an end. 

The school announced Sunday that it has hired Memphis head coach Mike Norvell as its next head coach. FSU will hold a press conference on Sunday at noon to introduce Norvell.

“I’m humbled and honored for the opportunity to be the head coach at Florida State University, one of the iconic brands in college football,” Norvell said. “I’m so very excited for the future and the opportunity to return Florida State football to one of the nation’s elite. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running, putting together a great signing class, a tremendous coaching staff and joining arms with our current and former players to help elevate our football program each and every day.”

Norvell, 38, was the head coach at Memphis since 2016 and had a 38-15 overall record at the school. He guided the Tigers to three straight AAC West division titles, including a 10-win campaign in 2017 and a 12-win mark this year. Memphis, ranked No. 17 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, beat Cincinnati in the AAC title game on Saturday and likely locked up a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game. 

Memphis head coach Mike Norvell runs onto the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against South Florida Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Norvell, who took over at Memphis when Justin Fuente left for Virginia Tech, helped guide the program to new heights. When Fuente left, the Tigers won 19 games over his last two years after winning 18 in the previous five seasons combined. Norvell, previously the offensive coordinator at Arizona State, continued with that level of success and now the Tigers have won at least eight games in six consecutive seasons. 

Under Norvell, the Tigers consistently were one of the top offensive teams in the country. Entering Saturday’s AAC title game, the Tigers were No. 8 nationally in scoring offense (41.5 points per game) and No. 10 in total offense, averaging 483.5 yards per game.

At Florida State, Norvell inherits a program in the midst of a rare down stretch. After Jimbo Fisher left Tallahassee for Texas A&M, the school hired Willie Taggart away from Oregon. But school moved on from Taggart quickly, firing him after the ninth game of his second season. The Seminoles went 5-7 in Taggart’s first year, FSU’s first losing season since 1976, which was the first year under Bobby Bowden. 

“I am so pleased that Coach Norvell will be leading our football program,” Florida State President John Thrasher said. “Everyone we spoke with regarding Coach Norvell agreed that he is one of the top coaches in the country. That fact is clear just based on the opportunities he already has on the table. It became clear to us during the interviews that Coach Norvell is the right person to lead our program back to a championship.”

FSU fired Taggart after a loss to Miami that dropped the team’s record to 4-5. Overall, Taggart had a 9-12 record at the school. After he was fired, Odell Haggins served as interim coach and got the team to 6-6 and a bowl game.

“We are excited that our football program has attracted one of the finest coaches in the country. We had a list of criteria that our new head coach needed to meet that went well beyond his record, and Mike Norvell exceeded all of them,” Florida State athletic director David Coburn said. “At the top of that list was attracting a coach who could lead the program back to competing for championships. We believe we have the coach to do that.”

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