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Florida State Seminoles

Florida heavily favored over FSU but not unprecedented recently

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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The renewal of the most fierce rivalry in the state is coming this Saturday in Gainesville. And while the Gators are heavily favored to wipe out FSU, the oddsmakers don’t have it as lopsided, as you might think.

On Sunday, with both teams coming off of a bye, Vegas sportsbooks installed Florida, as an 18-point favorite, and while there was some initial money on Florida State that moved the line up a tick, it has now held steady for the last two days at around 17 or 17  1/2 points.

Make no mistake, everyone everywhere believes that Florida will win easily at the Swamp Saturday. Then again, FSU could make their season after having fired coach Willie Taggart by beating their rival straight up.

Still, while it is the largest line in the series in the last six years, it’s not what the 2013 version of the Seminoles, who were unbeaten and ranked #2 in the country, were favored by in late November at Ben Hill Griffin Statdium.

That year, Jameis Winston was on his way to the Heisman Trophy in a couple of weeks and eventually a BCS National Championship game win over Auburn. Meanwhile, Will Muschamp’s Florida team was enduring their worst season in over 35 years, as they had lost in November to Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern at home to drop to 4-7.

So, Vegas installed Jimbo Fisher’s Noles as 28 point favorites, which as far back as we’ve been able to research, is the largest line in this series at least in the last 30 years.

And not surprisingly, that day in 2013, FSU dominated for three quarters, put the game on cruise control, and  covered the 28 point spread with a 37 – 7 blow-out win.

The Noles won the ACC Championship Game the following week and completed the perfect season when Winston hit Kelvin Benjamin with the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the Rose Bowl / BCS Title game.

Muschamp was fired the next season, Florida hired Jim McElwain and he fared no better being beaten decisively in 2015 and 16, as FSU easily dominated both of those matchups as a small favorite.

Dan Mullen’s Gainesville debut saw his team travel to Tallahassee a year ago as 7 point road favorites and destroyed Willie Taggart’s first-year Noles, 41 – 14. We wrote them that it was an obvious sign of how much farther along the Gators were than Florida State.

And now as it turns out, Taggart was fired early in November before he could ever participate in the second game of the rivalry in his career.

It should be pointed out as well, that the oddsmakers have pegged this game correctly in each of the last 6 years with the favorite covering every time.

Still, FSU interim coach Odell Haggins knows all about the rivalry, having been at Florida State for 30 years as a player and now a coach. And, he would love nothing more than to pull the shocker.

And, while Florida State is the significant underdog traveling on the road Saturday, they’ve had an extra week and may just be able to hang in and give Florida (and that 17 point line) some problems.

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Florida State Seminoles

Taggart’s FAU contract details released

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
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Former FSU head coach Willie Taggart was officially introduced as Florida Atlantic University’s new head coach on Thursday afternoon. Along with the announcement, were the details to his new contract with the Owls.

According to USA Today and the Associated Press, Taggart is receiving $750,000 a year in base pay for five years with a $3 million buyout if Taggart leaves before December of 2022.

The Palm Beach Post broke down his full contract details that includes performance bonuses and perks. 

— Taggart will make $750,000 per year for five years. For comparison, FAU’s last head coach, Lane Kiffin, made a $950,000 base salary per year. Kiffin’s earnings went over $1 million when a home loan, given to him by FAU, was factored in.

— Taggart owes FAU $3 million if he leaves the school or is fired before Dec. 1, 2022. The buyout drops to $1 million if he leaves before Dec. 1, 2023 and $500,000 between Dec. 2, 2023-Dec. 31, 2024.

— Taggart will receive a $25,000 retention bonus every Jan. 15.

— Incentives for Taggart include $100,000 for making a New Year’s Six Bowl or a top-10 finish. Taggart earns $50,000 for a Top 25 finish or for being named the National Coach of the Year.

— Taggart receives $20,000 for making the Conference USA Championship Game and $40,000 for winning it. FAU has won two league titles in the past three years.

— Taggart earns an extra $30,000 for making a bowl game. Winning the national championship nets Taggart $500,000.

— Taggart’s buyout is offset by his base salary at FAU. FSU will save around $3 million on Taggart’s $18 million buyout.

In addition to his salary, the University is offering perks such as a car allowance, a membership at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, and the option for family to travel on team charter.

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. It’s still not clear how much FSU will still be paying Taggart.

Taggart went just 9-12 in his season and a half with the Noles, 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 Novemeber 2nd. 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.

Now that his contract is signed, he’ll be fully a go to pick up recruiting in the state where he’s well known in from his previous tenures in state programs.

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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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