Chat with David Hale
Welcome to NoleNation! On Tuesday, reporter David Hale stops by to chat about the state of Florida State football.
Hale joined ESPN.com in 2012 after covering the Philadelphia Phillies for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del., and the University of Georgia for The Macon Telegraph. Hale has written about college and professional sports since 2004 and currently lives in Tallahassee, Fla.
Send your questions now and join Hale Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET!
David Hale (11:01 AM)
Hey folks, happy Tuesday. The weather couldn't be much nicer, but there definitely seems to be some dark clouds looming over FSU's final recruiting push. Let's get to some questions...
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
With FSU breaking in a new QB and likely being more run reliant, could they finally break the 1000yd rusher drought? Or will it still be a RBBC approach?
David Hale (11:03 AM)
It's been 16 years, so I think it's tough to predict an end when there were so many times it seemed like it should end and didn't (including last season). Your rationale is reasonable, but I think we'll see RB carries mixed and matched unless one guy really breaks out -- and if the QB is Coker or Winston, we could see a few more designed QB runs, too.
Any chance Tyrell Lyons decommits and chooses the Gamecocks? I don't see it, just surprising he would be that serious that he would take an OV this late after being committed almost a year to FSU.
David Hale (11:04 AM)
OK, first off, let me offer a qualifier for the remainder of this chat: I'm not Nole Nation's recruiting guru, so I'm not on the phone with these kids every day or anything like that. I highly recommend checking in with Corey Dowlar's recruiting chat tomorrow for some more detailed accounting. That said, I'll do my best to offer some perspective as we close in on signing day...
David Hale (11:05 AM)
I don't worry too much about official visits elsewhere, as most kids want to take them regardless of how solid their decisions already are. The timing is curious, and given the coaching turnover and other issues for FSU on the recruiting trail, it's enough to cause some concern. But I'm not overly worried on this one.
David Will the Dawgs be able to pull Davin Bellamy away from his FSU commitment?
David Hale (11:07 AM)
Hey Tyler... from what I've been hearing, that sounds like a distinct possibility. At this point, I think FSU coaches are not expecting Bellamy to be a part of the 2013 class (though things can still change) and it's more a matter of whether Georgia closes the deal.
Sounds like Austin Golson is headed to the SEC west. Bellamy and Levenberry may be gone too. Seems like all this coaching turnover is hurting our recruiting especially on the OL. Panic mode?
Besides the competition (e.g., SEC brand getting stronger, etc.) what can FSU do to improve its OL recruiting? And specifically, how much of FSU's OL recruiting problems can reasonably be placed on Trickett?
David Hale (11:10 AM)
Yeah, the O line is a definite concern right now. FSU went into this recruiting season looking to add at least 3-4 O linemen (and probably more) and right now they're down to two, with Ryan Hoefeld and Ira Denson. While that may not necessarily change the on-field product in 2013, things get really thin after this current group of starters departs, and a failure to have future starters waiting in the wings can be a huge blow to the offense.
David Hale (11:12 AM)
It's no secret that Trickett's style doesn't always endear him to his players -- though some love him, and most at least respect him. His success rate with guys speaks for itself, and Menelik Watson was a good example of a guy who really refined himself under Trikett and happily gave his coach credit. But that doesn't always sell well on the recruiting trail. I can say though that Trickett would much rather have guys he knows he can work with than guys who may have more raw talent but less coach-ability.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
Call me crazy for thinking this, but could Christos Kourtzidis become the #1 TE if O'Leary shifts to FB/H-Back?
David Hale (11:15 AM)
I don't really see O'Leary making a full-time shift to fullback, but rather I see Fisher running more two-TE sets and shifting O'Leary around a bit, giving defenses several different looks. This is something he did often at LSU, too. Regardless though, it should open up some playing time for Kourtzidis, and there's a potential for some solid production there. It's still a deep receiving corps, but I think he'll get a lot more snaps than he did in 2012, and I could see him finishing somewhere in the 15/250 range receiving.
Hey David. How do you see the Noles defensive scheme playing out this year? Stoops never really blitzed and depended more on the solid DLine. Do you see more blitzing this year, especially since the secondary should be our biggest strength even with the loss of Rhodes?
David Hale (11:17 AM)
Jeff, I think you hit the nail on the head there. FSU's strength this year will be the back end of the defense. I think they'll be employing more nickel and dime coverages (getting Karlos on the field more in something of a hybrid role) and taking a few more risks up front. It's not going to be a night/day difference -- they're still going to be doing a lot of the same things they did last year -- but Pruitt's got a chance to put him fingerprints on the scheme and he's got the talent in the secondary to take a more aggressive approach up front.
I don't doubt Jeremy Pruitt's recruiting ability but I have doubts about his ability to be a college level DC. His lack of experience is troubling.
David Hale (11:19 AM)
Well, everyone has to start somewhere, and Pruitt's experience at Alabama speaks well to his ability. I thought it was something of a surprise to go with someone with no DC experience at the college level for what Fisher described as a "marquee" job, but that may also speak to Fisher's confidence in him. If the hire goes poorly, Jimbo's neck is on the line by going outside the box a bit. But outside the box thinking has paid off in big ways before, and I think Pruitt has some real potential. It helps, too, that's he's got two other former DCs on his defensive staff, so there's plenty of overall experience.
Matt (Staten Island, NY)
Is FSU's drop off in recruiting this year more that there isn't a ton of early playing time openings/losing all those assistants or has Jimbo's recruiting momentum started to slow down a bit ?
David Hale (11:22 AM)
Momentum on the recruiting trail is tough to sustain, particularly at a place like FSU where there's so many good regional options for top talent to choose from. It's one thing for USC or Texas to have a top 5 class every year when they are clearly the biggest game in town. It's tougher to convince kids to come to a place where they're guaranteed 2 years on the bench when they could just as easily head to UGA, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Miami, etc. The coaching turnover has only complicated things, but I don't think there's any reason to believe this is more than a one-year blip that happens after 3-4 years of top-5 classes.
David, in your opinion, how much did the home loss to UF contribute to the tough recruiting season FSU is now facing?
David Hale (11:23 AM)
Probably not much. Do players care about the outcomes of those games? Sometimes, but it's rare that something like that is what sways a decision. In fact, there are times when it can work for you, too. A player is there for a visit, the team loses a tough game, he sees how the locker room comes together and handles a loss firsthand and realizes it's an environment he wants to be a part of.
Matt (Florence, SC)
With 6 coaches leaving in the last 6 months, what do you expect to be the biggest change going into late summer/fall?
David Hale (11:26 AM)
There will be some smaller scheme changes, and certainly the personalities on the practice field will be slightly different, but I think Jimbo's influence is such that there won't be a massive overhaul in either area. I think the one big thing the turnover does is it allows the players who may have been pigeonholed a bit by the old regime a chance to step up and get a fresh start. There are plenty of jobs open this spring/fall, and perhaps the new coaching staff is a good motivator for some guys who had fallen a bit behind to find some renewed opportunity.
Which coaching positions are still open at this point?
David Hale (11:26 AM)
Just QB coach after Coley left for Miami.
well, we loose another coordinator and key recruiter. How will this impact FSU's ability to stay on top of the recruiting wars in the state of Florida?
David Hale (11:27 AM)
It's huge, I think. Coley was an excellent recruiter and VERY tied into the South Florida recruiting scene. To lose him to both an in-state and conference rival is tough. Are there other guys Jimbo can hire that could make an impact in South Florida too? Sure... but Coley was one of, if not the best.
Andre (Tallahassee, FL)
Could Nile Lawrence-Stample crack the D-Line rotation this year, or is he too far behind the likes of Casher and incoming recruits to get some burn?
David Hale (11:29 AM)
As I said earlier, sometimes coaching turnover can be really good for guys who have fallen a bit behind on the depth chart. A clean slate motivates them and a new voice can get across some lessons that maybe hadn't gotten through before. Beyond Mario Edwards Jr., I'm not sure there's anyone guaranteed anything in that DE rotation right now (Newberry certainly slipped down the stretch last year, too) so it's possible we could see a good bit more of NLS. This spring will be a good test for him.
Russ (Dallas, tx)
Who is your odds on favorite to win the QB gig and how will next years D Compare to this yrs do you think?
David Hale (11:31 AM)
I think the safe bet right now is probably Trickett because a.) he has the most experience, and b.) he goes into spring as the clear No. 1. If I were putting money on it though, I might be leaning toward Coker, who has seen some game day work, has really improved over the past two years, and has a good mix of arm strength and athleticism. Winston is the real wild card because he certainly seems like he'd logically be behind those other two entering spring, he has the talent to take an opportunity and run with it. It really is a pretty wide open, three-horse race.
Marty (Nazareth PA.)
I know this doesnt affect your area but I just found out Virginia canceled their football game with Penn State and now PSU has to scramble to pick up a team. My question can a team do that? MY BIG QUESTION is don't they have contract in place to play the game?
David Hale (11:33 AM)
Yes, teams can do it and yes there are contracts in place. The problem is, all contracts have some sort of buy out clause -- i.e. the amount of money Team A has to pay Team B to get out of the agreement. If that dollar value is too low (as it was for the FSU-West Virginia game last year) then there's little incentive to keep teams from bailing. It's frustrating from a fan standpoint because you miss out on good non-conf games, but it's even tougher for the schools who are left scrambling at the last minute to find replacements. That's what happened with FSU and we were all treated to the debacle that was FSU-Savannah State. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, and Penn State fans have already suffered enough.
next years crop of florida juniors is by far one of the best if not the best at the skill postions and d line ...with our new coaching staff are we in position to make a significant impact....
David Hale (11:36 AM)
That's the thing... we really can't judge the new coaching staff in terms of recruiting until after NEXT signing day. This was just such a crazy situation -- unprecedented in a lot of ways -- that it's tough to say what impact this group really has. If they keep most of the class together, that's great -- but what might've been the case if they'd had a whole season to recruit the guys they wanted? This past month was a lot of putting band-aids on bullet wounds and hoping for the best. Next year will be a great test.
Mike (Saratoga NY)
Have you had a chance to speak with Jimbo about the coaching changes? It seems to me like their might be a problem there!
David Hale (11:39 AM)
We've gotten no official access from FSU to Jimbo or players or coaches since the Orange Bowl, but from what I've gathered, the changes weren't part of some angry exodus from Tallahassee. FSU had maintained continuity for three years, which is tough to do. All coaches left for promotions, so it's tough to argue with those decisions. But I will say, both Craig and Coley were Jimbo's guys, and both left for jobs that were not exactly slam dunks. I think that speaks to a situation that hasn't exactly fostered a lot of enthusiasm for the status quo. That's not to say they were looking to get out ASAP (both turned down other job offers earlier in the offseason) but it is to say that Jimbo's approach with assistants has its drawbacks, too.
Chris (Jackson, TN)
I like giving you a question that is always off topic...So, you think Tiger is back?
David Hale (11:40 AM)
I'm fairly unqualified to even talk recruiting this in depth, so golf is way off my radar. That said, Tiger's dominated Torrey Pines enough times that I view it a lot like FSU thumping Duke. It's positive momentum, but it's something I've seen too many times before to be overly excited about.
Chris (Jackson, TN)
Are you concerned as I am about the amount of recruits we are losing and how that will play in down the road to the future of this team? I'm getting the feeling next recruiting year is going to be huge, particularly on the offensive front.
David Hale (11:41 AM)
Every year is huge, but if this recruiting class stays status quo, there are going to be a number of big needs that have to be addressed for 2014. I wouldn't panic over this year's class, and I don't think it's a trend, but I think, particularly on the O line, there's some reasons for concern.
Ken (Tampa, FL)
Other than the obvious competition for starting QB, what will be some other areas of competition come SPRING.
David Hale (11:44 AM)
The defensive line will be interesting. Edwards and Jernigan are locks for jobs, but the other two starting spots are pretty wide open, and the rotations behind them will get a lot of snaps, too -- meaning there's probably a mix of 8-10 guys fighting for 4-5 jobs there. I'll be interested to see how the running game shakes out, too. With Pryor/Thompson/EJ all gone, the backfield dynamic will be a lot different. Can Freeman or JWJ step up? Will some of the young guys (Ryan Green, Mario Pender) make an impression? I'm not sure there's huge competition on special teams, but replacing Hopkins and finding a true answer at punt returner (along with the continued development of Cason Beatty) will be something to watch, too.
Pete Razor (Philadelphia, PA)
What's the biggest weakness in the Noles o-line right now? Thanks, I'll hang up and listen.
David Hale (11:46 AM)
Depth is an issue. With Watson leaving earlier than expected and Bobby Hart still, at best, a work in progress, there's not an obvious answer at RT. Then down the depth chart, there's not a ton of experienced talent. And if this year's recruiting class amounts to just two OL signees, things can get tricky -- not so much for 2013 (if everyone remains healthy) but for 2014/2015 for sure.
Blessing in disguise for us loosing cooley. I know jimbo likes having full control over play calling but if Cooley was that good at calling plays I think he would have gave him more of a chance. I will miss him in recruiting but sure seems like we got the staff to deal with the recruiting lose
David Hale (11:47 AM)
I will say that no one is in a better position to judge whether Coley had the ability to successfully call plays at FSU than Fisher, and he declined to give Coley that chance. That probably says something. But it may also say that Fisher just isn't willing to cede enough control of the offense to someone else to keep his best talent. Coley was an exceptional recruiter in a key area, and that's really tough to replace.
Hey David , how appealing is the fsu brand versus some of the Sec elite brands (bama.georgia,lsu,florida and now a&m...)
David Hale (11:50 AM)
Depends how define "brand." On the recruiting trail, I think FSU stacks up well, but things can really depend on what the kid likes. Alabama obviously has the pedigree to land the biggest fish, but do all those kids want to play for a guy like Saban? Or do some guys gravitate to UGA because Richt is such a different personality type? In terms of "brands" nationally -- TV ratings, fan loyalty, program revenue, etc. -- I think the SEC has an obvious advantage, and the fact that UF, LSU and Bama all have national titles helps dramatically. But FSU is right in that mix, and Bama is a perfect example of how the dynamics of that can shift over the course of just a few years. The important thing is to be in the mix, then all you need to do is win.
Matt (Staten Island, NY)
Just in case you couldn't wait to talk more conference re-alignment - the fact we're losing commits to SEC schools, I know nothing new, but does that start the momentum for leaving ACC again ?
David Hale (11:52 AM)
The momentum will all be dictated by dollars -- nothing more. Recruiting is nice, and I'm sure if the decision were up to Jimbo, he'd go wherever would land him the best players, but the decision belongs to people who are far more concerned with the bottom line.
Mike (Saratoga Ny)
What are JORTS?
David Hale (11:52 AM)
Jean shorts, the longstanding uniform of Florida fans (or so I'm told).
David, what's the word on the Nevada game? FSU needs that type of test to accurately gauge performance.
David Hale (11:53 AM)
Looks as if Nevada has no choice but to reluctantly play it as scheduled. The initial hope from Nevada was that Idaho would replace them on FSU's schedule, but negotiations soured and FSU stepped in and snagged Idaho as the replacement for the lost 9th conference game -- leaving Nevada holding the bag. Nevada can't afford the $600K buy out, so looks like the game will be played as scheduled.
What are the expectations for this year's team can't be title or bust like last year.
David Hale (11:55 AM)
I think far more reasonable expectations than last year. I think most will expect it to be a two-team race in the division, but I'll be mildly surprised if FSU is considered the favorite.
Mike (Saratoga Ny)
Is Winston playing at all on the baseball team?
David Hale (11:55 AM)
Yes, that's the plan.
Ryan P. (Philly)
Hey David, long time first time. Who's set to be this year's breakout star?
David Hale (11:56 AM)
David, I'm very concerned with the durability of Trickett at QB. What is your take on the situation and if you think another QB will get the signal?
David Hale (11:58 AM)
Reasonable concern. I know Trickett has been working hard to add weight, but it's been a difficult process. He's bigger than he was in 2011 -- but he's still nowhere near as durable as Coker or Winston. But having said that, if he outplays the other two, I'm sure Jimbo isn't going to let the potential of an injury prevent him from giving the job to Trickett. (And at least we know there are some talented backups there if he does get hurt)
Congrats to our man: Nole Djokovic on his record 3rd consecutive Australian Open title, and the 6th Major Championship of his career! Way to go, Nole! Keep making us proud!
David Hale (11:58 AM)
That seems a logical end point for today. Again, don't forget to check in with our recruiting insider Corey Dowlar for all your signing day buzz tomorrow, and we'll be chatting again this time next week. Thanks for all the great questions folks!