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Florida State Seminoles

Florida-FSU wouldn’t be what it is without Bowden and Spurrier

Matt Zemek

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
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It isn’t a crime against humanity. It isn’t the foremost outrage to be found in the world, in North America in the United States, in college athletics, in college football, or even in the state of Florida.

There are much bigger problems, many more severe outrages, to be found in the world… but this IS a crime: An ESPN “30 for 30” film on the Bobby Bowden-Steve Spurrier rivalry hasn’t been made.

I don’t have a problem with the fact that two 30 for 30 movies on the Miami Hurricanes were made. Miami football was a remarkable story with electric characters who lived unforgettable lives as collegiate athletes. The U did require two parts. That’s perfectly fine. I enjoyed the first one more than the second, but I’m glad both parts were made, and I am happy both parts exist as part of the treasure trove of documentary films on college football.

However, if The U gained two separate films on the “30 for 30” documentary franchise, “how in the Sam Hill” does the Bowden-Spurrier rivalry not have ONE film?

Bowden and Spurrier were obviously great coaches. They were iconic figures. They were also the ultimate pillars, the single most important figures in the football histories of their respective schools.

There was no Florida State football – not in any consequential sense, at any rate – before Bobby Bowden.

Similarly, Florida owned a significant national presence only to the extent that Steve Spurrier was in some way involved. His Heisman Trophy season in 1966, followed by his ascent to UF head coach, made Florida football what it was

Bowden and Spurrier weren’t great coaches who were mere drops in the ocean, small particles of a much larger rivalry with many epic chapters before and after. No, they WERE the rivalry between Florida and Florida State. We are still waiting for another coaching clash to come remotely close to that.

Urban Meyer – the other coaching giant in the history of FSU-UF football – didn’t have Bowden at his best when he coached the Gators. Jimbo Fisher didn’t have a worthy counterpart earlier this decade. Florida State will try to hire a coach who can match wits with Dan Mullen and create something special, but nothing is guaranteed.

This magnifies what Bowden and Spurrier brought to Noles-Gators, and to college football… but it doesn’t begin to tell the whole story.

Whether you believe either coach’s outward persona – Bobby’s aw-shucks, dadgummit veneer or Spurrier’s unvarnished competitive cockiness – is beside the point. These two men carried themselves in unique ways.

Bowden was the ultimate charmer – think “Bear Bryant but with sunshine and giggles” – while Spurrier was the resentful grudge-holding score-settler whose long memory fueled his ambitions and made him the great coach he was.

Florida State-Florida wasn’t just hugely significant at its height in the 1990s; it was colorful, emotional, original, fresh, and endlessly honest. The hatred was naked, not hidden; outwardly expressed, not repressed.

FSU-UF didn’t merely matter a great deal; it was the rivalry which, in its heyday, was so refreshingly free of pretense or manufactured controversy. The Noles and Gators arrived at – and built – their hatred honestly, not through cheap or artificial avenues or devices.

If Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler had the Ten-Year War at Ohio State and Michigan from 1969 through 1978, Bowden and Spurrier had the Twelve-Year War from 1990 through 2001.

The U should have two “30 for 30s.”

That isn’t the problem.

Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier not having one, at the end of 2019?

It’s a crime… not the worst crime, but a crime nonetheless.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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Florida State Seminoles

FAU hires former FSU coach Willie Taggart

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
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The “coaching carousel” of college football continues to spin, and for Florida State fans, they have to be pleased, as it looks like Willie Taggart will immediately take another job and not even leave the state.

Stadium.com’s college football insider, Brett McMurphy, reported Wednesday afternoon that Taggart had agreed in principle to become the new Florida Atlantic coach:

Taggart, who was fired in November, halfway into his second season at Florida State, will be replacing Lane Kiffin, who departed for Ole Miss after Saturday’s Conference USA championship game win over UAB.

The reason Florida State fans have to be so enthusiastic is the Taggart was reportedly owed over $17 million on his buyout with four years left on his deal. However, that amount has to be lessened some, if not significantly, since he’s going to immediately take another head coaching job.

FAU made the hire official later on Wednesday night:

Taggart went just 9-12 in his season and a half, which included Florida State suffering their first losing season in over forty years in 2018, when they went 5 – 7. When 2019 began with a collapsing loss at home to Boise State and then a near loss-OT victory over UL-Monroe, it seemed the handwriting was on the wall.

The final blow in Tallahassee came when Taggart’s team looked lifeless and undisciplined in their 27-10 loss to ACC instate rival Miami. He was dismissed the next afternoon.

Taggart came to FSU from Oregon, where he spent one year and went 7-5 before jumping, again, in December of 2017 to take the Noles job. He previously was the coach at USF for four seasons, where after starting 2-10 year one, he reversed that number in his final year (2016) to 10 – 2.

FAU enjoyed a resurgence under Kiffin and just won the C-USA Championship Game for the second time in three years. South Florida is obviously fertile ground for recruits and Taggart definitely has much experience recruiting the state for both the Seminoles, the Bulls and having also previously played High School football in Sarasota.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU coaching staff- who’s in and who’s out so far

Abbey Radeka

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
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Mike Norvell is wasting no time getting into his recruiting stride in Tallahassee, and he’s starting from the top down, with his coaching staff. So far, he’s secured two coaches that will be a part of the FSU staff in 2020.

With head coaching changes, traditionally comes a “clean sweep” of the previous coaches staff. However, Norvell’s first official hire was one of the programs most familiar faces, Odell Haggins. Norvell announced on Monday that Haggins will continue to run the Noles Defensive line and will be an associate head coach.

In his announcement he said, “I’m extremely excited to announce that Coach Odell Haggins will be my first official assistant coach here at Florida State,” Norvell said. “He is an incredible representative of Florida State football, a tremendous leader and teacher and a wonderful man. His knowledge and understanding of the Nole Way will be critical in our pursuit of excellence for this football team on and off the field.”

Norvell’s next hire, announced Monday afternoon, is Auburn OC Kenny Dillingham in the same role with the Seminoles.

The news means that Kendal Briles is officially out, who likely won’t have a hard time landing somewhere else, as one of the nations most promising OC’s, despite the lackluster year with FSU’s struggling offense.

Dillingham was preciously an assistant to Norvell at Memphis for three seasons from 2016 to 2018, before taking his job at Auburn. In his final year at Memphis he was promoted to OC, and lead an offense that ranked fourth nationally in total offense (534.3 ypg), third in rushing offense (285.5 ypg) and seventh in scoring offense (43.6 ppg).

Now on to what may be the most import hire of Norvell’s new staff, a frontman for the FSU defense. Right now, it is rumored that his third hire could be a coordinator from another SEC powerhouse. There’s lots of chatter online about the potential of Norvell landing Georgia’s current DC, Dan Lanning. While nothing has been confirmed yet, the move seems likely due to the connection between Norvell and Lanning at both Arizona State in 2012 and again at Memphis in 2016. Many Seminole fans are speculating on his potential move to Tallahassee when they noticed Lanning following FSU players and media on Twitter Monday afternoon.

As of right now, it is just talk, though he certainly would be an amazing hire for FSU. Much of what undid Willie Taggart was the failure to produce a solid defensive scheme. If an announcement about Lanning’s move is made in the next couple of days, it would be an excellent first week on the job for Norvell.

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