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December 18, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with David Hale

David Hale
  (11:07 AM)

Hey folks, happy Tuesday. A mere 6 shopping days left before Christmas... although the bigger question is how many more days Jimbo is going to spend shopping for a coaching staff. Let's get to your questions.

Joel (Niagara Falls) [via mobile]

Mr. Hale, I imagine an atmosphere at FSU where Bobby Bowdon is revered and worshipped the way Paul Bear Bryant in Tuscalusa, or Woody Hayes in Columbus are, with statues and monuments and everything else. At least I hope this is the case. Is it ? Do the boosters, the fans in town, on campus, and whoever else have that same reverence for Bobby, or have they simply moved on with Jimbo Fisher, a tremendous coach himself ? Thank you.

David Hale
  (11:10 AM)

It's interesting Joel. I think the bulk of the FSU fan base recognizes what Bobby brought to the program for so long, and that's the standard Jimbo will always be held to. But I think there was also an understanding that -- whether you agreed or disagreed with how Bobby's tenure ended -- it was probably time for him to go and the program needed a new direction. Bobby has kept a low profile around Tallahassee and particularly around FSU since his departure, and I think that's really helped to calm the situation. But I think if he started showing up to games again next year, there would be an immense outpouring for him each time.

Yapo (San Diego)

With coaches coming & going + playing a team that hails from the MAC playing in it's first time EVER BCS bowl game ...My question is ...Do our 18-22'ish year old boys have enough maturity, focus and preparedness to play sharp enough to win the Orange Bowl? I suppose we could point to the first 2 games where we manhandled D-II teams, but that was nearly half a year ago. ~Yapo

David Hale
  (11:13 AM)

This is the million dollar question, isn't it? There's a ton of off-the-field stuff going on around here, and the game is something of an afterthought for most fans. Meanwhile, it's something of a no-win situation for players because if you win in a blowout, that's what you were supposed to do. If you play a close game or worse, it undermines the entire season. I think there's enough leadership among guys like Bjoern, Dawkins, Lonnie and EJ who are playing their final games for FSU that they won't let it be a let-down moment.

Chris (Jackson, TN)

David, do you see Pruitt sticking to a 4-3 style defense or do you see us converting to a 3-4? I know we have the pieces to make the adjustment, but didn't know if you had anything on the matter.

David Hale
  (11:15 AM)

Chris -- It's tough to say because we haven't spoken with Pruitt at all yet (heck, the move isn't even official yet!). Looking at FSU's personnel, I'm not sure it would be a huge advantage to move to the 3-4 with what they've got, and a change in system could really throw the recruiting class into chaos. Jimbo said he wanted to make a hire to maximize their CURRENT roster, so again, not sure a 3-4 is that. Having said that, I could see that being a long-term move... maybe a year down the line. But Pruitt's also been a DBs coach, and he could adapt to the 4-3 easily, I'm sure. The 3-4 is Saban's system, but that doesn't mean it's Pruitt's too. It'll be interesting -- that's for sure.

Chris (Jackson, TN)

Do you think the Sunseri hire is going to end up being like Amato's hiring back in the 00's where the coach has a bigger job, goes back to being a position coach, and becomes a disappointment because he doesn't care?

David Hale
  (11:17 AM)

It's an interesting dynamic-- the longtime assistant with coordinator experience at big-time schools is the underling to the young guy who has only coached in college for 3 years and has zero coordinator experience. Strange, right? But I don't think Jimbo would've made the hire without Sunseri understanding the situation and being on board with it. It may be that Jimbo wanted to hire a DC who would be on board for at least 3-5 years and there's an understanding that Sunseri will be looking for a DC job again next year.

Brian (Tampa)

Down here in the land of the SEC its hard enough to have a cupcake schedule and try and get respect. So question is...is FSU getting soft with a soft schedule? Back in the derrick brooks days it didnt matter the conference, we had the swagger...not anymore.

David Hale
  (11:19 AM)

I'd perhaps argue to the contrary on SEC scheduling, Brian. Non-con games in the SEC tend to be pretty weak. Look at what Florida has done for two decades. (Last non-con game outside the state of Florida was early '90s!) But the difference is, if you're an SEC team that plays 8 games in conference and a rivalry game out of conference, you end up with a pretty solid schedule no matter who those other 3 non-con games are. For FSU, if they play cupcakes out of conference, they're going to get 5-6 more cupcakes in conference. It's the fault of the ACC, not Florida State.

Mike (Saratoga)

Do you think Jimbo will have to focus more on the defense this year, causing even more importance for an OC?

David Hale
  (11:20 AM)

My guess is Jimbo helps to ease the transition during the spring, but by the time the season starts, the defense will belong completely to the new coaching staff. Jimbo's fingerprints won't be on it any more than they were on Stoops' unit.

kc (oakland)

crazy to bench Brady vs Jax for someone else?

David Hale
  (11:20 AM)

Who's the someone else? And also, yes.

DJ (Cuse)

With the coaching changes and the recent rash of decommmits is 2013 a make or break year for Jimbo? Does he have to hire an OC to help save his job?

David Hale
  (11:21 AM)

First off, how's things in the Cuse? Can you FedEx me some Dinosaur BBQ?

David Hale
  (11:23 AM)

To answer your question though -- no, I don't think Jimbo is on the hot seat at all. There's some underlying discomfort with the missed opportunities, but let's look at the facts: FSU should finish with 12 wins for the 2nd time in school history. It won its first ACC title in seven years. It could win its first BCS game in more than a decade. Fisher has revitalized the talent on the roster with three straight excellent recruiting classes. Even with turnover, FSU will enter next season as the ACC favorite.

David Hale
  (11:23 AM)

I think there's probably some sentiment that folks are still taking a wait-and-see approach with Jimbo and don't want to commit longterm, but he's not in any real trouble. Now, let's say they lose the Orange Bowl and finish 8-4 next year... well, then we're talking about a really uncomfortable 2014.

Kevin (Mobile, AL)

How long will this rebuilding phase from the loss of Stoops actually cost FSU in the long run?

David Hale
  (11:25 AM)

Look, I like Stoops and I think he's got a bright future. He's done a lot with that defense. But let's also face facts: Jimbo was bringing in the talent, and Stoops was just coaching them. FSU's new staff has an impressive pedigree, too. There doesn't have to be a marked drop-off -- particularly if there's not an overwhelming scheme change.

David Hale
  (11:25 AM)

I'll say this... I think the loss of Werner/Rhodes/(possibly) Joyner along with the seniors will resonate much more than the loss of the assistant coaches.

Zach (Davenport)

Love the new hires, just was curious on what you thought

David Hale
  (11:27 AM)

I think the combo of Pruitt/Sunseri is solid. Jimbo has always focused on hiring top recruiters rather than the best Xs and Os guys, and Pruitt is apparently VERY good. Sunseri's got experience and I think he makes up for some of Pruitt's perceived weaknesses. Given all the talk about this being a destination job, etc., I suppose it's easy to view the hires as something of a disappointment, but I kind of like the idea of giving a hungry, young coach a chance rather than handing over the reins to a guy who thinks he has nothing left to prove.

David Hale
  (11:27 AM)

Don't forget thought -- Fisher still has at least one more job to fill (Gran) and possibly two (Hudson).

Jay (Troy, Alabama)

Any rumors on when the big name juniors are going to announce if they are staying or leaving? Juniors like Rhodes, Joyner, Jones and Werner seem to be caught in the middle.

David Hale
  (11:30 AM)

Barring an injury in the Orange Bowl, Werner is gone. Both he and Jimbo have pretty much said so without making it official. I know Rhodes was very close to leaving last year, and he's certainly been a lot better this season, so I'd be surprised if he stayed. I spoke with Lamarcus for a while last week, and while he didn't say he was definitely leaving, he certainly sounded like he was leaning that way, saying he'd accomplished everything he felt he needed to accomplish at FSU. I think it would be a mistake for Jones to leave. He's got the potential to become a household name next year. I think both he and Joyner would be taken in Round 3-4 this year if they come out. If Joyner comes back and plays well, he's probably still in that area because of his size. If Jones comes back and has a big year, he could be a first-rounder.

Joe (GA)

My thoughts on Pruitt 1. I love it. Sure he does not have the experience but for every Coordinator at some point they had their first job and lacked the exp. 2. He has won at every stop and comes from a program that does nothing but win. 3. Great recruiter, he will continue to bring in elite talent, maybe the talent to finally push FSU back to the top tier. 4. Hiring Sunseri to coach a position brings great experience onto the staff. I also think this hire could make or break Fisher and his future. Time will tell but you can do a lot worse then a coach with a winning pedigree and who is regraded as one of the nations best recruiters. Your thoughts?

David Hale
  (11:32 AM)

Joe... I'm pretty much in complete agreement. BUT, this was something of a risk. Jimbo sold the job as being a destination that should attract the best of the best. Instead, he's hiring a guy with 3 years of college experience. (Really, what's he done that better than DJ Eliot, who was already in house, who had to go with his buddy to Kentucky to get a DC job?) So Jimbo has gone out on a limb a bit on this, and it could pay off. But if it doesn't and the D takes a big step back next year, people are going to point the finger at Jimbo and ask why he hired someone with so little experience if this was such a good job.

Jay (Troy, Alabama)

What are your thoughts on the recruiting right now? It seems to be a little down and out so far, nothing compared to the past two years at this time.

David Hale
  (11:34 AM)

Jay -- I'm not our primary recruiting guy, and I'd highly recommend checking out Corey Dowlar's recruiting chat later this week for more specifics, but I'll say this: A top-10 class is still a VERY good class, but it just seems like a step back from where FSU has been the last few years. And I do still think this will end up being a top-10 class. January will be big. The new staff will be in place, some juniors will have made decisions on their future that may open up roster spots, and Jimbo needs to close the deal on some big names. If that happens, it can still be a solid haul.

LifeLongNole (Tallahassee, Fl)

What is the scheduled completion date for the indoor facility?

David Hale
  (11:35 AM)

Expected to be open by Aug. 1 in time for fall camp, although FSU folks admit that's an aggressive schedule. That's the date they're shooting for though.

Matt (Winston-Salem)

FSU, the '13 ACC favorite? Does Tajh Boyd's decision to stay/go factor into your thoughts?

David Hale
  (11:36 AM)

Yeah, that's a fair point. If Tajh/Sammy/Hopkins are back at Clemson, I could see them being the favorite. But even so, I think FSU would be widely considered the second best team in the conference.

John (Orlando)

If the ACC implodes where do FSU and Clemson end up, they seem like a package deal to me to potential conferences. Alot of people say the SEC but I don't think UF or USCe and any other SEC school with an instate out of conference rival will allow that. Is the BIG 12 the only viable option? I really don't see the ACC lasting as a football confernce going forward they will be the Big East getting cherry picked by the big boys.

David Hale
  (11:37 AM)

I think it's a good sign for the ACC that they weathered the storm in the immediate aftermath of Maryland leaving. We heard so much about GT and possibly UVA following the Terps out the door, which would've been a death knell. I think the odds are in the ACC's favor to keep things together for now.

David Hale
  (11:38 AM)

But if things do fall apart, I'd be somewhat surprised if FSU/Clemson ended up in the SEC. For one, it doesn't expand the SEC's footprint. Instead, it overlaps with SC and Fla, as you said, and those schools have a vested interest in preventing that from happening.

Zach (Davenport)

Any idea when we will hear about Werner, Jones, Joyner, and Rhodes. I would assume Werner is gone and Rhode pretty much is a lock to leave. Joyner and Jones probably would be on their way back to school.

David Hale
  (11:38 AM)

Bjoern has his decision made, he said. My guess is he'll say right after the bowl game. Xavier, too, most likely. The other guys may take a few days to mull it over.

Deon (NC CANES FAN) [via mobile]

I think fsu is afraid to schedule big out of con games because they want to stack up wins vs cupcakes. Last year we played kstate notre dame and in recent years oklahoma and we have florida next year and in future years nebraska.

David Hale
  (11:39 AM)

I don't think they're afraid to do it. they had West Virginia scheduled. They played Oklahoma each of the past two years before that. They play Florida every year. They're working on a kickoff game against Okie State. There's a desire to schedule -- but only under favorable conditions, which means a lack of interested teams.

Zach (Davenport)

I know we have the D-line personal to run the 3-4, but sure doesn't feel like we have the linebacking core to play it.... I think we would be way better with a 3-3-5... The only way I could see it working is Smith gaining 20 pounds, Karlos moving to LB, and def no chance of this working if Christain Jones going pro .. i think that is to many scenarios

David Hale
  (11:40 AM)

All fair points. Bjoern and Jenkins are guys capable of playing at OLB, but not sure FSU will have that talent next year... especially if Jones leaves.

Matt (Winston-Salem)

David, thanks for your piece about Kevin Halpea. I know it's early, but any chance he could take a crack at the FB slot in '13?

David Hale
  (11:41 AM)

You know, I really wanted to ask him that yesterday when we spoke to him, but the interview was cut a bit short. I'm planning to discuss this with Jimbo at some point though. I think that fullback position is a real mystery right now... not as sexy a story as QB, but one with fewer potential answers.

Ted Waters (San Diego)

If my team, Oregon played FSU who would win and why?

David Hale
  (11:43 AM)

That'd be fun to see, I think. I think it might play out a bit like the FSU-Clemson game, but I think Oregon's ability to run the ball would give the Ducks the edge. Shame we can't see a game like that instead of Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl.

allen ( Eagle-Land)

Do u think Uconn will end up in the acc?

David Hale
  (11:44 AM)

Given the chaos in the Big East, I think it's possible that the ACC could decide to open its doors for both them and Cincy under the right circumstances, but I'm not sure there's a groundswell of support for that just yet.

David Hale
  (11:46 AM)

Having some trouble with some of the questions posting... sorry about that...

David Hale
  (11:46 AM)

Here's one from Allen in Eagle-Land: Hey david do u think the Acc will havea winning record during this years bowl season? Ho many games will the Acc win?

David Hale
  (11:49 AM)

Bowl season's unpredictable, so wouldn't surprise me if the conference did OK... but boy, it's tough to like too many of those matchups. I think Florida State would be the only team I'd be very confident in.

David Hale
  (11:49 AM)

Having said that... I'm really looking forward to Clemson-LSU, which should be a fun game.

David Hale
  (11:49 AM)

Another question from Zach in Davenport: Any thoughts of bracy being used like a deanthony thomas next year. I really havent heard much about him but this kid has speed to burn. I don't know if he has similar skills but looked like he could play in the UA game last year

David Hale
  (11:51 AM)

Bracy was used a lot on scout team to mimic the opposition's best athlete which is telling. It'll be interesting to see exactly where he fits though. I think had he not been injured over the summer and early part of the fall, he would've had a role this year as a trick-play/end-around/reverse type of guy, and I'd expect at least that much from him in 2013.

ForeverNole (SEC Country)

I know we go some great back-ups on the roster but two big concerns for me as a fan is the QB spot and FB spot. I know Trickett has some experience but he weighs a buck 50 soaking wet and I don't think could handle a whole season, and with Lonnie leaving the opens up a important role in the offense. I don't know if we have anybody that can fill the big shoes of Pryor. What are your thoughts on these two position openings and other big ones like safety and kicker?

David Hale
  (11:53 AM)

This is perhaps a cheat, but my bet right now would be that Trickett opens the season as the starting QB, but he doesn't end it that way. But honestly, I don't think anyone knows what to make of that position right now. It'll take at least the spring to get a handle on where guys stand. This season represents the fewest passes thrown by backup QBs at FSU in a decade.

David Hale
  (11:54 AM)

As for the other positions: Fullback is a huge question, and it could partially be answered by Jimbo tweaking the offense a tad. Kicker will be Roberto Aguyao, who was set to grayshirt before a scholarship opened up last minute. Good leg, but big shoes to fill. Safety is in good shape even if Lamarcus doesn't come back. Karlos Williams can become a star there, but even down the roster there's talent with Tyler Hunter, PJ Williams, et al.

Zach (Davenport)

What about James Wilder as FB in some formations. I don't know if he has the FB mentality but that would be a lot of defenses with tough matchups with him and freeman on the field. I'm not saying make this his primary positions but when we do shotgun split backs would be a good combination. I think it would be a nightmare for defenses with him, freeman, and winston in the back field on some formations

David Hale
  (11:56 AM)

This is an interesting question, too, and Jimbo proved with Lonnie that a guy can step into that role and still get touches and put up numbers. Given Wilder's good hands and route-running ability, I think he's got the potential to be a really good fullback if he wants the role. But as you said, not sure how much he'd embrace it. And yeah... Wilder, Freeman and either Winston/Coker on the field at once... look out.

Matt (Winston-Salem)

David, so many folks ask about conference realignment - and it is a huge story - but shouldn't ACC schools just work harder to build better athletic programs, starting with solid coaching hires/constant reviews? I mean, "first things first", right?

David Hale
  (11:57 AM)

Thank you, Matt. So, so true. The problem the ACC has is that supposedly marquee schools that have the facilities, recruiting bases and money to be competitive -- Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia -- rarely live up to the potential. If the conference could get to a point where it consistently had 6 teams in the 8-10 win range every year, the perception would be much different.

LifeLongNole (Tallahassee, Fl)

Yes/No: FSU's offense will be better next year than this year? I don't expect that the D will be better, but they could still be very good.

David Hale
  (11:59 AM)

QB changes are never easy, and given Jimbo's trust issues with EJ, I can't help but think that becomes even more pronounced with a young guy next year. BUT... the O line is a year older and more experienced and should be VERY good. The running backs have tons of potential. The receiving corps is completely intact with guys like Shaw, Greene and KB. I won't predict the offense will be better, but I will say I won't be the least bit surprised if it is.

Anthony (Valparaiso, In)

Do you think Pender will be a big impact and will it make a difference to his use next year if Thompson is allowed to come back?

David Hale
  (12:00 PM)

At this point, I'm not expecting Pender to be a difference maker next year, and honestly it wouldn't entirely surprise me if he got lost in the shuffle a bit. One of FSU's top recruits is also a RB. And if Thompson is allowed to come back (something I still think is unlikely), I just don't see where the touches come from.

Jay (Troy, Alabama)

I know the ACC presidents signed that letter of intent to the ACC (haha, recruiting humor) but if Maryland gets out without having to pay that full 50 million, why wouldn't FSU and Clemson look to Big 12. I know for sure the TV market revenue for FSU and Clemson will have to be a good bit being the only schools in Florida and Carolinas respectively. Me personally think that it would help FSU get more money for budget room and allow us to pay better but just me. What you think?

David Hale
  (12:02 PM)

Jay, I have no doubt that presidents (and particularly FSU) are closely watching how the Maryland situation resolves itself. It's a HUGE precedent. As for the money... I'm dubious of all of this talk of dollars and sense. Not saying it's not true, but I just wonder how much some of this is inflated and where some of these projections come from. As a reporter, I'd love to be able to really sift through the numbers and have some objective analysis/discussion of the bottom line. And if I'm a decision maker at FSU, that's exactly what I'd be doing.

Tony (KY)

David, really miss you reporting in UGA, Seth's ok, but you interact wiht fans so much better. Keep up the good work.

David Hale
  (12:04 PM)

It's not Seth's fault, Tony. He went to Maryland. Can't trust those guys. Thanks though... my time there was some of the most fun I've had working in my career!

Anthony (Valparaiso, In)

Is it possible with the stacked RB position for one them to be moved to the FB position?

David Hale
  (12:05 PM)

Possible... but Wilder's really the one with the most appropriate body type. But he's also a legit 5-star athlete. Are you maximizing his potential at fullback? It's possible, I suppose, if he has a role like Lonnie did this year, only with maybe 3-4 more touches per game. But still... not sure that's going to be the answer.

Jared (Atlanta, GA)

No questions David - just wanted to thank you for the great work and wish you a very Merry Christmas

David Hale
  (12:06 PM)

Thanks so much Jared. Been a fun first year covering FSU. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the feedback from readers and all the great questions we've gotten in these chats. My absolute favorite part of the job is being able to interact with you guys.

David Hale
  (12:06 PM)

Hope everyone has a great holiday season (Christmas or otherwise) and looking forward to an exciting 2013!