- Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer
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Longtime Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews name won't be mentioned among the winningest coaches in college football history.
During Florida State's dynasty of the 1990s, Andrews didn't parlay the Seminoles' success into his own head-coaching job, like linebackers coach Chuck Amato did at NC State or offensive coordinator Mark Richt did at Georgia.
For more than a quarter-century, Andrews simply stood behind FSU coach Bobby Bowden, helping the Seminoles win 10 games or more and finish in the top five of the final Associated Press Top 25 poll during 14 consecutive seasons, from 1987 to 2000.
"What he meant to Florida State's players is right beneath what Bobby Bowden meant to Florida State," said Derrick Brooks, a former Seminole All-America linebacker.
Andrews, 68, announced his retirement Tuesday, after serving 26 seasons as FSU's defensive coordinator. He will coach through the end of the 2009 season, which has been one of his most difficult at FSU.
Through eight games, the Seminoles rank 109th in total defense, 113th in pass-efficiency defense and 93rd in scoring defense. FSU is 4-4 going into Saturday's game at Clemson.
"I knew about this for a while," said Brooks, who works as an NFL analyst for ESPN. "It was no surprise to me. It just hurts me that our defense didn't perform the way I hoped it would in his last season."
FSU's defensive performance this season has been a far cry from the menacing defenses Andrews built during the 1990s, when the Seminoles won national championships in 1993 and '99. He was the first winner of the Frank Broyles Award as the country's top assistant coach in 1996, and his units led the country in run defense in 1996 and '97 and total defense and pass defense in '98.
"Coach Andrews is the best coach that I've ever been coached by," former FSU All-America cornerback Deion Sanders said, in a statement released by the school. "He is one of the all-time great defensive coaches in college football history. I believe next to Bobby Bowden, he probably has had the biggest influence on athletics at Florida State."
Starting with the 1985 NFL draft, 73 of Andrews' players were selected by NFL teams, including 18 first-rounders. Nearly 50 of his players received some sort of All-America recognition, and multiple FSU players won Jim Thorpe, Lombardi and Butkus awards under his watch.
"If you look at the FSU players in the NFL, there were probably twice as many defensive players as offensive players," Brooks said.
More than anything else, Andrews coached the way he was taught at Alabama, where he was a star wide receiver and defensive back on Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first two national championship teams in 1961 and '64.
"If you played for him on defense, you were mentally tough," Brooks said. "I don't think you appreciated Mickey Andrews until after you left, and I think it was the same for all of his players."
It might end up being the same for Florida State fans.
Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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