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Florida State names Mike Norvell new football coach

After leading Memphis to 12-win season, 38-year-old ‘excited’ to get Seminoles back to ‘nation’s elite’

Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell answers a question at his introductory news conference, Dec. 8, 2019, in Tallahassee, Florida.
Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell answers a question at his introductory news conference, Dec. 8, 2019, in Tallahassee, Florida. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the second time in two years, Florida State has a new football coach.

Less than 24 hours after leading Memphis to the American Athletic Conference championship and a berth in the Cotton Bowl, Mike Norvell was introduced Sunday as the next head coach of the Seminoles.

Norvell comes to Tallahassee after four seasons in Memphis, where he guided the Tigers to a 38-15 record in four seasons, including a 12-1 campaign in 2019, and three straight AAC Championship game appearances.

The 38-year-old Texas native has never had a losing season and never won fewer than eight games since becoming a head coach.

“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 in a statement released by the school. “I’m so very excited for the future and the opportunity to return Florida State football to one of the nation’s elite.”

Norvell was hired by Memphis in 2016 to replace Justin Fuentes, who left for Virginia Tech.

Memphis is one of only three FBS teams, along with Ohio State and Oklahoma, to rank in the top 15 nationally in scoring offense each of the last four seasons. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 8 in scoring offense, averaging 40.5 points per game.

Memphis head coach Mike Norvell celebrates with his team after the Tigers defeated Cincinnati for the American Athletic Conference championship, Dec. 7, 2019, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Memphis head coach Mike Norvell celebrates with his team after the Tigers defeated Cincinnati for the American Athletic Conference championship, Dec. 7, 2019, in Memphis, Tennessee. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Norvell previously served as offensive coordinator at Arizona State from 2012-15 and co-offensive coordinator at Pittsburgh in 2011.

He played wide receiver at Central Arkansas from 2001-05, setting the school’s all-time reception record with 213 career catches.

Perhaps the most impressive trait in Norvell's relatively short tenure as a head coach is his ability to identify talented assistants. In 2019, the offensive coordinators at Notre Dame, Auburn and Texas A&M, as well as the defensive coordinator at Georgia, special teams coordinator at Penn State and position coaches at Tennessee, Auburn and Texas Tech, were all hired from Norvell's staff at Memphis.

"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," FSU 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."

Norvell takes over for Willie Taggart, who was fired last month after a 9-12 record through his first 21 games at the helm.

The Seminoles had a losing season in 2018 for the first time since 1976 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 1982. Both streaks were the longest in the nation.

Odell Haggins led the Seminoles to a 2-1 record as interim coach after Taggart was dismissed, helping Florida State to become bowl eligible.

“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 said.