Florida State continues rounding out staff by adding Charles Kelly

Coley Harvey | Orlando Sentinel FSU reporter

5:24 AM PST, January 12, 2013


TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State's quiet third-floor Moore Athletics Center coaches offices just got some new life and new energy as the Seminoles announced Friday afternoon the hiring of Charles Kelly as their new linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.

The former Georgia Tech assistant comes to FSU in the wake of several coaching departures, and just ahead of one of the biggest recruiting weekends of the year.

A 1990 Auburn graduate, Kelly brings to the Panhandle an extensive knowledge of life in the ACC and SEC, and a proven knack at searching for and finding talent throughout the states of Alabama and Georgia. As the Seminoles try to keep pace with the competitive recruiting landscape of the region, they have proven with other recent hires that the Yellowhammer and Peach States are two they want to lead the charge in recruiting well.

"I'm excited to have Charles joining our staff," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said in a news release Friday. "He brings a wealth of knowledge on the defensive side of football to our program. He's a great recruiter and coach who has been in the South a long time, where he's developed a reputation as one of the best.

"Not only is he going to bring a lot to our staff in all phases of coaching, but he's a quality person that we can't wait to have join our Seminole family."

FSU released to the Orlando Sentinel and other news agencies the terms of an offer sheet Kelly signed Thursday. According to it, he will be making a base salary of $275,000 on a contract to coach three seasons. He is currently signed through Jan. 9, 2016. Kelly also will receive a $1,500 allotment from Nike Elite, standard complimentary game tickets, bonuses and health/sick-leave benefits.

As part of his bonus scale, Kelly will receive $7,500 if FSU participates in the ACC championship game like it did this year against his now former Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Kelly also will receive a bonus month's salary if FSU competes in a non-BCS bowl game. For any BCS games, he'll receive a month-and-a-half salary bonus. If the team ends up in the national championship, he'll get a two month's salary bonus.

"I know Coach Fisher's goal is to win a national championship and that's something I'm hoping to help the program accomplish," Kelly said in a news release. "I'd like to thank [coaches] Paul Johnson and Chan Gailey for giving me the opportunity to be at Georgia Tech the last seven years. We had some very good times together."

Kelly was part of the Tech team that went 11-3, won the ACC and finished in the Orange Bowl in 2009.

In the middle of this past season, Kelly, who had been serving as Tech's defensive backs coach, was moved to the role of defensive coordinator following the October firing of Al Groh. In the six games Groh served as defensive coordinator, the Jackets had allowed 30.2 points per game and ranked as the 90th total defense in the country.

In the eight games Kelly served as coordinator, the Jackets allowed 26.9 points and rose to 43rd in total defense. The last two games of the season in particular, the conference championship against FSU and the Sun Bowl against Southern California, saw two of Tech's best defensive performances under Kelly. The Trojans scored just seven points and converted only three of 15 third downs in the New Year's Eve bowl.

This will be Kelly's first time coaching linebackers at the college level. He last coached them at Eufaula High School in southern Alabama in 2001. Within five years, he was at Tech coaching special teams. When Gailey and his defensive coordinator, Jon Tenuta, were let go two years later, Kelly began coaching cornerbacks and safeties for Johnson's Jackets.

Kelly comes to FSU following the departures of defensive coaches Mark Stoops, D.J. Eliot and Greg Hudson. Early this week, Hudson left to serve as Purdue's new defensive coordinator. Stoops and Eliot left last month to serve as head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively, at Kentucky.

Running backs coach and special teams coordinator Eddie Gran also accepted a job last month, moving on to coach at Cincinnati alongside longtime coaching friend Tommy Tuberville. Gran will be the offensive coordinator there. His depature cleared the path for Kelly to be FSU's new special teams coach.

The Seminoles still are waiting to fill a spot vacated by quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig, as well as Gran's running backs duties. Reports have indicated the Seminoles are considering moving tight ends coach and offensive coordinator James Coley into the quarterback coaching role. Former Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders also has been reportedly in discussion with FSU about coming to serve on staff to take Gran's spot.

With one official visit weekend this weekend and another big one in two weeks, the Seminoles are hopeful to have their full staff hired in the coming days.


As a quick, personal aside on Charles Kelly, just wanted to add a couple of cents here.

Those of you who have been following the Chopping Block for some time now know that prior to covering FSU for you, I spent four seasons in Atlanta covering the Jackets for The Telegraph (Macon, Ga.). They were four years of my life that I'll definitely cherish. Like Kelly, I have some "fond memories" there; just as I now do in Tallahassee, as well.

During my time in Atlanta, I got to know each of Tech's coaches pretty well, but Kelly was one of the few I may have known a little better than the others. I'll actually never forget the March day when I went over to say goodbye to Paul Johnson and to thank him for his candor and frankness while covering him over the years. That same afternoon, while making my rounds at Tech, I bumped into Kelly. I could tell the news of my departure caught him off guard a bit, but I could also tell he was happy for me to move on and take advantage of a new opportunity, a new chapter in my life.

The first time I had seen Kelly since that day was last month, late the night of the ACC championship game. We chatted for a moment inside the tunnel underneath Bank of America Stadium's South stands as the Jackets finished packing up and watching the Seminoles -- orange slices in their mouths -- race into their nearby locker room, celebrating a trip to the Orange Bowl. It was clear that loss hit Kelly, because he really felt he had a good gameplan to stall Fisher's scheme.

Had it not been for Karlos Williams' interception with a minute remaining in the ballgame, Kelly might have been the one who had something to celebrate that night.

When Kelly comes to Tallahassee and takes over with the staff full-time, FSU fans can expect to meet a real competitor. He doesn't like losing, doesn't like failing. But, when things do go wrong, he's among the first to say what went poorly and what he will do to make sure they don't go that way again.

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