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Florida State staying off the coaching carousel lately

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It's a bizarre sight when ambling through the coaches wing of the Florida State football complex. The faces behind the desks and the business cards placed atop them haven't changed.

Florida State is one of four Power 5 teams that will have the same coaching staff for a third consecutive season in 2017. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has its fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons. In 2017, every 2016 playoff team will have multiple new coaches.

"[Players] get stability, build relationships. Change this and change that, everybody wants change in this world now," coach Jimbo Fisher said. "But you're breaking relationships, breaking how a guy gets coached, how he knows what a coach wants."

In early 2013, Fisher might have considered mandating name tags among coaches. Six assistants skipped town after 2012, forcing a staff reconstruction that bordered on a complete overhaul.

Since 2013, the Seminoles have lost only two assistants, and a staff that has largely remained in place is 47-7 over those four seasons. Only two teams have fewer losses.

At Florida State, three assistants have worked with Fisher more than a decade. Odell Haggins is approaching his 24th season, and Rick Trickett and Lawrence Dawsey have been with Fisher since he arrived as offensive coordinator in 2007. Tim Brewster, Charles Kelly, Jay Graham and Randy Sanders accepted positions in 2013. Bill Miller came in 2014 and Brad Lawing joined before the 2015 season.

"Old, experienced, know what to do, not enamored with all the things like young players -- eyes get giddy, want to go, grass is always greener," Fisher said, contrasting his stalwarts to coaches on the move. "They've been through that. They've won championships, they've been in big-time programs and understand what it's about and know we got a great program."

While never in jeopardy of a staff breakup like in 2013, other programs have taken the pulse of the Seminoles' staff. Brewster is considered one of the country's best recruiters. Lawing is an elite defensive coach credited with Jadeveon Clowney's early development.

It appeared Auburn might pluck Kelly, a former Tigers defensive back, with a reported $1 million offer after 2015, but the Seminoles defensive coordinator rooted himself in Tallahassee. When the defense floundered early in 2016 and it seemed Kelly could be let go, Fisher showed the same loyalty.

If Fisher felt there was too much of a deficiency at one spot, he said he wouldn't hesitate to make a move, but he's confident in his group.

Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Matthew Thomas is one of the few Seminoles who have experienced a change in coaching at his position. He said it takes a few practices to feel comfortable, and early meetings often focus on introductions over improvements.

"It's kind of difficult, kind of tough because you get used to one guy and then you get another guy with a whole new system and have to get his feel for how he does things," Thomas said.

Turnover on a coaching staff doesn't necessarily equate to a struggle on the field, however. While coaching dysfunction at Texas continually set the Longhorns back, Alabama has cycled through assistants and coordinators. The Tide nearly won a national title with Steve Sarkisian, who was promoted to offensive coordinator a week before the championship in what ultimately served as a one-game audition for the NFL. When the Tide opens against Florida State on Sept. 2, it will have a third offensive coordinator in as many games.

What the continuity at Florida State has also done is limit the time Fisher needs to double as a human-resources manager. Gathering contacts for background information and interviews is a lengthy process, coaches said.

NC State coach Dave Doeren hired two new coaches this winter, and he made a coordinator change before last season. He brought Eliah Drinkwitz aboard to run the Wolfpack's offense though neither Doeren nor anyone else on the NC State staff had coached with Drinkwitz.

"If you're starting from scratch and you don't know anything about the guy, it takes time," he said. "You got to call a lot of people, gotta get in front of them and maybe have them meet with other people on staff, and the negotiation could take a long time."

The way Fisher's contract is structured, there is incentive for the athletic department to keep assistants' salaries competitive in negotiations. If Fisher elects to leave before the end of his deal in 2024, his buyout is tied to the remaining money owed to the Florida State assistant coaches.

"Our guys don't run for [money], but end of the day it has to be competitive," Fisher said. "It's a big commitment, but at the end of the day [football is] what makes all the money."