With three Florida State University assistant football coaches leaving for new jobs, this hasn't been a typical first few weeks of bowl preparation for the FSU football team.
Defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot, who is leaving to become defensive coordinator at Kentucky, has been piecing together the Seminoles' Orange Bowl game plan and is expected to call plays on New Year's Day against Northern Illinois.
Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who was introduced earlier this month as Kentucky's next head coach, is helping with game-planning as well. And running backs coach Eddie Gran, who has taken the offensive coordinator position at Cincinnati, has returned to help out at FSU's practices.
"That shows a lot," FSU running back James Wilder Jr. said. "He could just be over there (at Cincinnati) getting things situated. But with him coming back to help us ... he's a great coach."
The Seminoles also had new defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri observing practices before he had even signed an agreement to join the staff. And new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who is helping Alabama prepare for its national championship game against Notre Dame, has reached out by phone to introduce himself to some of the Seminoles.
But if the uneasiness that comes with coaching turnover has had any impact on FSU's practices, head coach Jimbo Fisher hasn't seen it.
"We've had some good practices," Fisher said when the Seminoles broke for the holidays late last week. "I've been pleased with the way we've practiced. Had great spirit and great enthusiasm."
Of course, Northern Illinois has had more than its share of December upheaval as well. Head coach Dave Doeren was hired as head coach at N.C. State, leading to the promotion of assistant coach Rod Carey. And at least three Northern Illinois assistant coaches are helping the Huskies through the Orange Bowl before leaving to join Doeren's staff at Raleigh, N.C.
The Seminoles' first practice in South Florida will take place Thursday morning, followed by workouts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the game on Tuesday.
After a hectic few weeks, Fisher and his players are looking forward to ending the month on a positive note.
"I think it's another chance for our program to grow and put it on a national stage," Fisher said, "and catapult us into next year, with a very experienced team coming back and a very good group of guys. Hopefully we can continue to learn and grow our program."