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FSU's coaches pull for football title

4:34 PM, Jan 3, 2014   |    comments
Jan 2, 2014; Newport Beach, CA, USA; General view of the Florida State Seminoles (right) and Auburn Tigers helmets at the 2014 BCS National Championship press conference at Newport Beach Marriott. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - If Florida State athletics director Stan Wilcox wants to track down any of his coaches during the next week, he might not have to look far.

FSU's entire baseball staff is making the trip to Pasadena for the BCS National Championship Game, golf coach Trey Jones is heading out on Friday, and coaches from several other sports will be making their way in the coming days.

The ones who can't make it? Rest assured they will be cheering from afar. Not just because they want to support their university and their friends on the football staff, but because the Seminoles' accomplishments on the gridiron can have a direct impact on the entire athletic program.

"If football has success, everybody is rewarded," FSU baseball coach Mike Martin Sr. said. "Everybody is excited, and we all want to be a part of it. It helps everybody. Does it help baseball? You're dadgum right it helps baseball."

Martin, who was a student-athlete at Florida State in the 1960s and has been FSU's head baseball coach since 1980, has seen first-hand the impact football success has on university enrollment, fundraising and recruiting.

"I've known who has pulled this train for all these years," Martin said with a laugh.

Jones, in his 11th season as the Seminoles' men's golf coach, said he and his fellow coaches have no problem acknowledging that a winning football program -- let alone one that will compete for a national championship on Monday -- can make life better for everyone in the department.

"You look at the Moore Athletics Center; that wasn't built because of the golf team," Jones said. "It helps every team in every way. ... And from a recruiting standpoint, if I go to a tournament and there's a player wearing a Florida State hat, there's a reason for that."

And that reason often is football.

Jones quickly recalled seeing a promising prospect at a youth tournament several years ago and noticing that the boy was wearing a Florida State cap. The young golfer was just 14 at the time, but it let Jones know that the Seminoles might have an edge. He ended up signing with the Seminoles.

It hasn't always been that way, of course.

FSU men's tennis coach Dwayne Hultquist, in his 15th season at FSU, said the recruiting road definitely got bumpier in the late 2000s, when the Seminoles' football program was hovering just above .500 while the rival Florida Gators were winning a pair of national championships.

"The years Tim Tebow was playing were hard for us in recruiting," Hultquist said. "But now, people are talking about Florida State. That's a good thing for us."

Hultquist won't be able to make the trip to the title game because his team opens practice this weekend, but he will be glued to the television Monday night. And he knows plenty of potential recruits -- in all sports -- will be as well.

"Right now, they're thinking Florida State," Hultquist said. "Because Florida State has the visibility, they're on TV, they're playing for the national championship. So it definitely helps on the recruiting side, and it also helps on the giving side because people are excited."

Without question, Seminole Boosters, the Alumni Association and the Foundation all will be working to tap into that excitement -- just like the university did after the Seminoles' brilliant football run from the late 1980s through 2000.

Those football victories helped pave the way to improved facilities across campus.
"It's the way it is in our business," Martin said. "People are proud to see the attention their school is getting, and they want to be a part of it."

Tallahassee Democrat

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