Will high-profile Group of Five hires in Florida complicate recruiting for FSU?

There’s a new sheriff in town. Actually, there are new sheriffs all over the state.

Since mid-November, three different lower-tier FBS programs in Florida have made new hires and with names we all know.

Butch Davis, former head coach of Miami, North Carolina and the Cleveland Browns, was tabbed to lead Florida International last month. Just down the road, former Tennessee, USC and Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin, who had been serving as offensive coordinator at Alabama, became the new head coach at Florida Atlantic. Charlie Strong, who was fired from Texas last month, will take over at South Florida for Willie Taggart.

Add the three new faces to an FBS slate of head coaches in Florida that includes Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Florida’s Jim McElwain, Miami’s Mark Richt and UCF’s Scott Frost, and every head coach in Florida has won an FBS national championship either as an assistant or a player. Only Fisher has won one as a head coach.

With the big names come big-time accomplishments, at least to some extent. As head coaches, Fisher, Davis, Richt and Strong have all won major conferences and BCS bowls.

With so much coaching talent in Florida, some have questioned whether FSU should become concerned that the chances of bringing elite talent in Florida to Tallahassee has shrunk. The short answer is no.

When it comes to the best in Florida’s hot-bed for recruiting, it’s unlikely that the likes of FIU or FAU will be able to sway standouts away from Florida, Miami or FSU. With Strong at USF and the Bulls putting together a 10-win season and quite possibly a Top 25 finish, things are a bit more promising. South Florida could land the high 3- and low 4-star talents more regularly, but the 5-stars and high-4s will still probably prefer a Power 5 conference.

As far as FSU goes specifically, Fisher has regularly out-recruited his in-state counterparts. However, with Richt at Miami, the sample size is small. According to 247Sports’ composite team rankings, FSU finished 10 spots ahead of rival Florida last year. The Seminoles currently sit eight spots higher for 2017, but there is speculation that FSU could ascend before December is over.

As important as winning recruiting battles in the Sunshine State is, that’s hardly FSU’s limit. Of the 15 players committed for 2017, five — or one-third — are from outside of Florida. Seven of FSU’s top 12 signees from last year were from out-of-state, and that was with a class that finished ranked second nationally.

Where the new hires could make a difference on the recruiting trail might not be with the 4- or 5-star prospects, but with the 3-stars. A program like FIU or FAU could sell some things that FSU can’t, such as immediate playing time. Guys like Davis and Kiffin could also make the claim of having been head coaches in the NFL — something that none of the head men at the “Big 3” programs can.

When it comes to college football in Florida, though, Fisher’s Seminoles are still the cream of the crop. When comparing résumés of the state’s FBS programs since Fisher became head coach in 2010, there really is no comparison.

Not only is Fisher on the verge of coaching FSU to a fifth straight 10-win season and a possible top-10 finish, he has three ACC titles and a national championship on his résumé. He’s also 17-1 against foes from the Sunshine State. Until the results on the field start to change, it’s hard to imagine that the Seminoles will be something other than top dog on the recruiting trail, regardless of who is roaming the sidelines.