Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Mickey Andrews Tribute

With all the fanfare surrounding Bobby Bowden’s bittersweet exit from the college football landscape, I’d be remiss not to recognize his long-time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. The 2010 Gator Bowl was also Andrews’ last game as a Florida State coach. And no defensive coordinator made a bigger impact on the game than Mickey.

His lightning-quick, ball-hawking, gang-tackling defenses are stuff of legend. Mickey didn’t care how big a player was, as long as he played fast, smart and explosive. Experts have attributed the dominating speed of Mickey Andrews-style defense to the rise in the spread offense in college football. Just ask Steve Spurrier, who in 1996 had to put Heisman-winner Danny Wuerrfel in the shotgun just to give him a fraction of a second to complete any passes. Sports Illustrated columnist Andy Staples says, “Spurrier, at the height of his offensive genius, had to radically renovate his offense because of Andrews.” And Mickey’s defenses were the main reason FSU held an 8-5-1 advantage over Spurrier’s mighty Gators.

Andrews was the master of halftime adjustments. You could spot just about any FSU opponent a sizeable lead or statistical advantage in the first half because you KNEW that Mickey’s defense would completely and totally shut them down after halftime. It happened more times than I can remember. Take the infamous "Choke at Doak" game vs. the Gators. The FSU defense shut the high-flying Gator offense down in the fourth quarter, allowing no points and just 40 yards of offense, and paving the way for one of the greatest comebacks in college football history. Or what of the classic goal line stands? Take the 1993 Kickoff Classic, for instance. In the 42-0 drubbing of overmatched Kansas, the Seminole defense held a goal line stance thwarting 11 Jayhawk attempts to score from inside the 10-yardline in one series.

Mickey's impact was felt beyond the college level. NFL talent scouts always knew that Andrews’ players were well-prepared to make the leap to that next level. The Associated Press reports, “Since 1985, NFL teams have picked 73 defensive players developed by Andrews at Florida State. That list includes Peter Boulware, Derrick Brooks, Terrell Buckley, LeRoy Butler, Sam Cowart and Marvin Jones, who like Sanders all went on to star in the NFL.” Eighteen of those players were first-rounders, and half went in the first ten picks.

Mickey Andrews, “the longest tenured and most successful assistant coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference,” coordinated defenses for 26 seasons at Florida State. He was named the nation's top assistant coach in 2000 by the All-American Football Foundation, the national defensive coordinator of the year in 1998 by the American Football Coach's Magazine and the national assistant coach of the year by Athlon's Magazine in 1991[1]. And during the ‘Noles two National Championship campaigns in ’93 and ’99, Andrews deserves as much credit as anyone for architecting near perfect seasons. Some of his best recruits will one day reside in the NFL Hall of Fame.


Two of my all-time favorite linebackers, groomed under Mickey Andrews’ tutelage, are Derrick Brooks and his predecessor Marvin “Shade Tree” Jones. About Jones, Sports Illustrated says, “Few college linebackers were more dominant than 'Shade Tree,' a three-time All-America who won the Butkus and Lombardi awards in 1992.” He was followed by the legendary #10 who dominated and intimidated opponents beginning his freshman year. Early in the 1993 Season, Derrick Brooks had already scored three touchdowns from his middle linebacker position, to which Sports Illustrated commented on September 27th of that year, “Brooks has outscored his team's four opponents 18-14. By himself.” Without a doubt, these two brute forces will go down in history as some of Mickey’s best and toughest defenders.

And who can forget the legendary defensive backs churned out by FSU? Mickey Andrews was their position coach for much of his 26-year tenure. He prepped stars like Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley and Antonio Cromartie for the NFL, all of them first round picks. Let’s not forget Superbowl MVP Dexter Jackson, either. Some might go so far to say that FSU was Defensive Backs U for a number of years. With a portfolio of future NFL hall-of-famers like that, who can argue?

Of all the coaches who’ve come and gone at Florida State, I’ll miss Mickey’s sunflower seed-spittin’, butt-chewin’, sideline antics the most. His defenses’ were legendary, game changing. Mike Stoops has some incredibly large shoes to fill. I hope he’s worthy of the honor.


Seminoles.com page

Orlando Sentinel Remembers Mickey Andrews


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