FORT LAUDERDALE - James Coley and Jimbo Fisher have worked together for a long time. Coley is the face of Florida State recruiting, but much has been made throughout his tenure as offensive coordinator over what his day-to-day job entails, as Fisher still presides over the offensive play calling.
But it is never even a question within the program, as two have developed a strong relationship from years of working together that began when Coley served as an offensive assistant on then-offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher's staff at LSU. The working relationship the two men have built allows for a level of communication and functionality that makes possible Fisher calling the plays, but Coley leading the offense in practice and in development.
"He does a great job," Fisher said. "Coley and I have been together for a long time. He knows what we do inside and out and he knows how I think and we know how each other think. He turns up with great ideas and a lot of the things (we do) he comes up with."
One of Coley's primary roles as OC is scripting practice and coming up with what drills the Seminoles should focus on based on the offensive game plan for the following game.
"He writes up all the plays that we run for every drill," tight end Kevin Haplea said. "So he's really able to help us out with letting us know what we're going to see and what we need to focus on and hone in on. And just overall preparing us for what the game plan is going to be like for the game and for practice."
Also the coach of the tight ends, Coley works with Haplea and his unit even more extensively and the Penn State transfer appreciates the unique coaching style Coley brings to practice.
"He doesn't really have one set style," Haplea said. "He can just feel the vibe in practice and the emotion around practice and he just tells you what you need to hear. If he needs to get on you, he'll get on you, but a lot of time we know what we did wrong and he'll show us.
Coley scripts practice based on the game plan put together by Fisher and the coaching staff for individual games. He is instrumental to that process, too, as he brings new ideas and information to Fisher.
"I try to get all the information to him so when he walks into these meetings it's very productive and we're not sitting around there and there's not a lot of wasting time," Coley said. "His questions get answered right away with regards to schemes and how and what our opponent is doing."
Both Fisher and Coley agree that the arrangement has worked out well. Coley gather all relevant information to help game plan and because he is so well versed on the info, he is able to bring ideas to the table both before games and during games that other coaches may have missed.
"He's able in the game (to say), 'hey we can still do this or we can still do that' and he can (make) calls in the game and do a great job," Fisher said.
Coley will do all of that in the Orange Bowl this week and Fisher feels glad to have him aboard.
"He's a great asset, he's a tremendous recruiter, a tremendous person. He's going to have a great career in this business. We're very fortunate to have him."
Manuel's reveals family's battle
EJ Manuel faced more than just opposing defenses this year. The pressures of being a starting quarterback on a Division I football team sometimes pales to the pressures that real life can throw at you. Manuel's family went public this week with Manuel's mother's ongoing fight with breast cancer.
Manuel's mother was diagnosed just one week before the start of the season. The redshirt senior told ESPN.com that the situation was very tough.
"I had to just continue to play and move on past it," Manuel said on Friday.
Manuel's ability to lead the Seminoles to an 11-2 record and their first Orange Bowl appearance in seven years despite dealing with the emotional repercussions of seeing a loved one battle disease has inspired his coaches and teammates.
"You know, it's been a tough year for him," offensive coordinator James Coley said. "Whenever you have someone dear to you, whenever you see them struggling with an illness, especially at a young age, it's tough. But the great thing about this job is you see these freshmen, and then by their fifth year you see them come in as young pups, and then you kind of see them seasoned, you know what I mean? Not just as players but also as individuals. So you saw him take that with stride and he's learning to become a professional at this."
Running back Devonta Freeman expressed awe in Manuel that he was able to go out and play for the Seminoles while in the midst of dealing with this personal issue.
"It's a humbling experience for us to see," Freeman said. "Because all you know and all you got is your mom and she's going through that, she's fighting that without you being with her, so it's hard.
"I know he thinks about it and it's on his mind, but when we're out there on the field, he just lets it all go and lets god deal with it and he just plays with his talent."
Manuel's mother, Jackie, will receive her last chemotherapy treatment this week, just a day before Manuel will lead the Seminoles into the Orange Bowl.
"It's definitely a relief because I know she's going to start feeling well soon, just another day closer to her being better and getting back to her normal self, so that's the biggest relief," Manuel said.