DHR International Assists Florida State Land New Football Coach

December 10, 2019 – Glenn Sugiyama, managing partner and global sports practice leader at DHR International, has placed Mike Norvell as the new head football coach for Florida State University. Willie Taggart was fired in early November after going 9-12 during his tenure with the team.

“It was an honor to be entrusted with the search for the new leader of one of the iconic brands and one for the top college football jobs in the country,” said Mr. Sugiyama. “Mike Norvell is one of the rising stars in college football not only for his overall body of work…an overall record of 38-15, three consecutive appearances in the conference championship game and a winning percentage of 71.7 percent. But he also had his best year the year our job was open…winning 12 games culminating in the 2019 AAC Championship.”

“Mike has also showed that he can be resilient in running a consistent winning program year in and year out,” he said. “He has had to hire 26 assistant coaches (seven coordinators) in four years and 15 in the last two.”

“I am so pleased that coach Norvell will be leading our football program,” said John Thrasher, Florida State’s president. “Everyone we spoke with regarding coach Norvell agreed that he is one of the top coaches in the country. That fact is clear just based on the opportunities he already has on the table. It became clear to us during the interviews that coach Norvell is the right person to lead our program back to a championship.”

“We are excited that our football program has attracted one of the finest coaches in the country,” said David Coburn, Florida State’s director of athletics. “We had a list of criteria that our new head coach needed to meet that went well beyond his record, and Mike Norvell exceeded all of them. At the top of that list was attracting a coach who could lead the program back to competing for championships. We believe we have the coach to do that.”

Mr. Norvell spent the last four seasons as head coach at Memphis, compiling a record of 38-15, including the 2019 American Athletic Conference championship. His .717 winning percentage is the highest in Memphis history and ranks 10th among active coaches with at least four years of experience at the FBS level. Memphis was the first school to appear in three straight American Athletic Conference championship games, and Mr. Norvell is one of 12 head coaches in any conference to appear in three straight conference championship games. He is also one of only seven to make three conference championship game appearances in their first four years as a head coach. Mr. Norvell took over at Memphis after four years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona State University. He also spent one year as Pitt’s co-offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and director of recruiting.

“I’m humbled and honored for the opportunity to be the head coach at Florida State University, one of the iconic brands in college football,” Mr. Norvell said. “I’m so very excited for the future and the opportunity to return Florida State football to one of the nation’s elite. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running, putting together a great signing class, a tremendous coaching staff and joining arms with our current and former players to help elevate our football program each and every day.”

Related: Ventura Partners Tapped by Rutgers University to Find Head Football Coach

Florida State has won three national championships, 18 conference titles and six division titles along with a playoff appearance. The Seminoles have achieved three undefeated seasons, finished ranked in the top four of the AP poll for 14 straight years from 1987 through 2000 and completed 41 straight winning seasons from 1977 through 2017. The program has produced 219 All-Americans and 250 professional players.

A Leader in Sports Recruitment 

DHR’s sports practice is a global specialty for the firm with capabilities on six continents across all sports-related organizations. These range from Fortune 500 companies and professional sports teams to public and private university athletics. The firm has overseen searches for the University of Pittsburgh, Colorado State University, Fresno State University, San Jose State, Kansas, Syracuse and Quinnipiac University, among others.


DHR Recruits Head Football Coaches for Arkansas and Oregon State
Arkansas and Oregon State both turned to executive recruiter Glenn Sugiyama to find new football coaches. Let’s go inside each search and take a look at why recruitment firms are in high demand to find athletic leadership.


Described by Forbes magazine as “one of the most influential men in college athletics,” Mr. Sugiyama places talent for professional sports organizations and for top academic institutions around the world, including senior sports executives and head coaches. He is considered a human capital expert in the sports industry, and is frequently asked to share his opinions and insights in the media and speak about his experiences internationally.

Related: Executive Search Gets ‘On the Ball’ In Sports Recruitment

At age 27, Mr. Sugiyama became one of the youngest directors of a major U.S. pro sports team when he was named to the board of directors of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. Prior to the Bulls, he was a Division I college basketball coach. Recently, he was named one of the “Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business” in the U.S.

Recruiting Head Coaches

“Glenn is professional, he’s thorough and integrity is important to him,” Brian Battle, the former senior associate director of athletics for internal operations at Florida Atlantic University, told the Tallahassee Democrat. “He puts together the best candidate pool for the university to make the decision.”

Among other assignments, Mr. Sugiyama helped recruit head coaches Jeff Brohm at Purdue, Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic University and Gary Andersen as head football coach for Utah State.

“Using a search firm to find an AD or head coach brings many benefits to colleges, including speed, coordination and discretion in an industry where all three are vital,” said Mr. Sugiyama. “Search firms can provide many tangible and intangible items in a search process.”

In addition to confidentiality, industry expertise, organization and detail, search firms can give an institution “a credible and professional third party” credibility while providing the institution “protection and plausible deniability,” he said.

Search firms also mitigate the risk involved “and allow the institution to make the very best hire with as much information and due diligence as possible,” said Mr. Sugiyami. “For a college to attempt to do an important athletic search on their own without the assistance of a search firm would be like them building a stadium without an architect or a contractor.”

Related: Eastman & Beaudine Recruits Head Football Coach for Baylor

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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