Source: FSU to hire Jeremy Pruitt
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly three weeks after defensive coordinator Mark Stoops announced he was leaving for Kentucky, Florida State appears close to hiring his replacement.
Multiple reports have tabbed Alabama defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt as the likely hire, and a source close to the situation confirmed Sunday that the move is expected to happen.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has been coy on the subject, saying he had a short list of candidates, but he avoided setting a timetable for the hire. Sources confirmed Fisher had met with Pruitt for an interview.
"I want to announce it when all things are appropriate for all parties," Fisher said Saturday. "But we're in good shape."
There have been several snags in the process, including Pruitt's current responsibilities preparing Alabama for its second national championship game in as many years.
Meanwhile, Florida State had to jump through a few extra hoops before making an offer to any coach. A recent change in Florida law prevented any state employee -- including coaches -- from being given more than 20 weeks of severance pay, making offering a multiyear contract to any coach impossible.
A special meeting of Florida State's board of trustees was held Friday to create a work-around that will allow Fisher to make the hire without dealing with the legislative red tape.
Just how soon Pruitt's hiring will be made official remains a question, but Fisher said Saturday that outgoing defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot, who will be joining Stoops at Kentucky, will call defensive plays in the Discover Orange Bowl against Northern Illinois, and both Elliott and Stoops are expected to coach practices at FSU this week.
Once Pruitt is on board, he figures to have a big job ahead of him. Florida State will lose five senior starters from a defense that ranks second nationally behind only Alabama, and a handful of underclassmen, including defensive end Bjoern Werner, could decide to leave early for the NFL.
The Florida State job would be Pruitt's first as a college coordinator, although he served in that role at Hoover (Ala.) High School before coming to Alabama as director of player development in 2007. His three seasons as the Tide's defensive backs coach is the only on-field coaching job he's had at the college level. He's widely considered one of Alabama's top recruiters, however.
Pruitt also comes from a system at Alabama that runs a 3-4 base defense, rather than the 4-3 style employed at Florida State. While it's possible FSU could make a switch, Fisher had hinted last week he wanted a coordinator who would prioritize maximizing the personnel already on the roster.
"I'm making decisions based on the players we have here," Fisher said. "What kind of coordinator and what kind of style will fit the players we have and what I want to do on defense. ... From that standpoint, every decision I have and the people I'm interviewing have our players at heart."
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