The Florida Gators are reportedly showing early interest in Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell to run their offense and replace the recently-fired Brent Pease, according to CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler.
Florida has not made formal contact with Ariz St OC Mike Norvell, but there have been some feelers put out about Gators coordinator job— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) December 12, 2013
As Fowler reports, it doesn't seem as if there has been any dialogue between the sides thus far but Florida's desire to bring Norvell aboard makes a lot of sense.
Mark Long of the Associated Press reported in early December that Florida head coach Will Muschamp "plans to switch to [an] up-tempo offense in 2014 and is willing to scrap [his] pro-style system." As Arizona State fans know, that's Norvell's bread and butter. Furthermore, Norvell has some ties to the south. Norvell, a former wide receiver, was a four-year starter at Central Arkansas.
Florida is likely taking it slow at this point knowing it would be difficult to steal Norvell from Arizona State as the team prepares for the Holiday Bowl. And it's likely going to take a considerable raise for a promising head coach candidate like Norvell to agree to a parallel move.
Norvell was the fifth highest-paid assistant coach in the Pac-12 this season after making $502,420 in 2013, according to USA Today. Pease, Florida's former offensive coordinator who was fired on Dec. 1, made $600,000 in 2013, ranking as the 10th highest paid assistant coach in the SEC.
Of course, money shouldn't be an issue for a program that annually cracks the top-five in terms of total revenue. But it's worth noting Florida does still owe Pease "about $1.2 million" for the remaining two years on his contract, according to Long.
Florida (4-8) struggled mightily on the offensive end this season finishing 112th nationally in total offense (316.7 yards per game) and 111th in points per game averaging 18.8. For comparison's sake, Arizona State (10-3) ranked 29th in total offense (460.8 yards per game) and ninth nationally with 41 points per game under Norvell's guidance.
While Norvell is certainly a worthy candidate, one has to wonder if he'd be willing to start the learning curve over with an unfamiliar crop of players in a brand new system. There's no denying Florida would provide a grander stage to show off his knowledge but Norvell is already on the cusp of receiving head coaching offers. If he's looking for a promotion soon, it seems he would be better off sticking at Arizona State for his third season to finally open up the deeper pages of his playbook. The loss of Marion Grice will hurt but Arizona State's offense is still in great shape; Taylor Kelly is the ideal quarterback for Norvell's system and he's well-versed in his scheme.
Even though college football is undoubtedly a business (as Todd Graham knows best), you also have to factor in Norvell's loyalty for his head coach. Graham gave Norvell his first big break when he hired him as an offensive graduate assistant and receivers coach in 2007 during his first year at Tulsa. Norvell has spent the last seven seasons with Graham since then, following him to Pittsburgh and Arizona State.
This likely won't be the last time we hear about teams trying to pry away Norvell in the immediate future. He's only 32 and received plenty of national attention as candidate for the Broyles Award for the nation's top assistant coach.
We'll continue to keep our readers in the loop as this story develops but at this time, it seems highly unlikely any major movement happens till after the Holiday Bowl.