He got it backward, starting at the wrong end with the right idea wile dealing with a difficult buildout.

Now look at Mike Norvell and Florida State.

From the unreasonable fringe barking a mere 11 months ago to buy him out, to the sudden architect of how to breathe life into a dying blue-blood.

The Norvell Plan has arrived — and the path leads all the way to the Playoff.

“I told our team that sometimes you have to go through what you need to prove you can get through,” Norvell said last weekend.

If winning 10 games in 2022 didn’t prove FSU had made it to the other side, steamrolling LSU in last weekend’s season-opener made it abundantly clear: The Noles are back among the nation’s elite. And only because Norvell took a huge chance and went against everything that made it work at Florida State all those years ago.

Typically, a new coach joins a program and builds organically through high school recruiting. You develop, you build — and then add from the transfer portal .

Norvell flipped the process 2 years ago, using the NCAA’s gift of glorified free agency with no salary cap — NIL, free player movement, the transfer portal — to build quickly and avoid the growing pains of developing organically.

From the greatest recruiter and closer in Bobby Bowden, to all 22 starters on Jimbo Fisher’s 2013 national championship team eventually drafted by the NFL.

Those teams were built through high school recruiting, where FSU’s reputation was sterling. The Norvell Plan was built with the transfer portal — where FSU was a great unknown.

When FSU lined up last weekend against LSU, 15 of its 22 starters were from the transfer portal. Fifteen.

Here’s the key to the Norvell Plan: The college transfers aren’t just filling holes from high school recruiting losses or misses. They’re elite players filling needs.

  • CB Fentrell Cypress was Virginia’s best player in 2022 and an elite ACC defender.
  • WR Keon Coleman was Michigan State’s best player and an elite Big Ten receiver.
  • DT Braden Fiske was Western Michigan’s best player.
  • TE Jaheim Bell was South Carolina’s best player.
  • OT Jeremiah Beyers was UTEP’s best player.

All transferred to FSU this offseason. All started against LSU.

Coleman and Bell combined for 5 TDs, and Cypress locked down LSU star WR Malik Nabers. This, of course, was a year after FSU rocketed from failing to reach the postseason in 2021 to winning 10 games in 2022 behind key portal additions DE Jared Verse (the best player in FCS at Albany), LB Tatum Bethune (UCF), WRs Johnny Wilson (Arizona State) and Mycah Pittman (Oregon), and RB Trey Benson (Oregon).

Much like the 2023 portal class, the 2022 class ranged from the best in their division (Verse), to a former elite recruit who wasn’t used correctly at his previous school (Benson, Wilson).

That all led to back-to-back wins over SEC heavyweight LSU. It’s rare when anyone not named Alabama beats LSU 2 straight seasons.

“All these new guys came in and gelled very well with this locker room,” said FSU QB Jordan Travis, who transferred from Louisville in 2019. “I’m so grateful for them for being great people and great teammates.”

That’s the rub in the Norvell Plan. There’s no guarantee that any player added from the portal will fit, will embrace what was built before and practice and play within the parameters of the system.

In other words, will play for we — not me. Transferring won’t simply be a way station toward the NFL.

Other programs have tried to do the same thing, and some have been successful. Brian Kelly flipped LSU in a season, and USC coach Lincoln Riley has used the transfer portal to add over the past 2 seasons.

But no team, no coach, has hit with so many impactful players over the past 2 years like Norvell.

Verse is the best edge rusher in college football. Coleman is among the top receivers in the game. Wilson and Benson were lost on the depth chart at Arizona State and Oregon, and have been massive additions since 2022.

Bethune was UCF’s best player in 2021, and by the end of this season, will be earning All-American honors. Cypress could, too.

Meanwhile, the very reason Norvell flipped his process of player procurement has finally made a turn. After high school recruiting classes of No. 21, 21, 19 and 16, Norvell’s 2024 class is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation by the 247Sports composite.

“I knew it was going to be a process,” Norvell said. “We stayed true to continuing to work to get better. We all had to go through it.”

Nearly 3 years ago, Norvell took his team 2 hours East on Interstate 10 to Jacksonville so they could spend a couple of days of fall camp away from campus. A trip, he said, that builds team chemistry.

It was awkward on that first trip, a mismatched group of guys just trying to avoid another humiliating season. This time around, midway through last month, FSU showed up physically bigger and stronger than they ever have.

They knew how to work, how to practice, how to be consistent in their preparation. Everything — and everyone — fit.

“This team is going to play really well this season,” Travis said in mid-August. “We’ve gone through a lot — a lot that people probably didn’t think we’d make it through.”

The Norvell Plan of program development may have started at the wrong end.

But it sure was the right idea.