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Florida State Seminoles

FSU escaped Saturday because ULM coach failed to go for win

Florida Football Insiders

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John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports
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Saturday night, FSU head coach Willie Taggart came into his postgame news conference with almost a stunned demeanor. Even though his team somehow found a way to survive 45 – 44 in overtime against Louisiana-Monroe, Taggart, the media and Noles fans everywhere knew they had just witnessed a Houdini-like escape. An escape enabled, because the opposing head coach didn’t go for the win in overtime.

First, for the second straight Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium FSU raced out to a huge halftime lead, only to squander it and clearly wear down in the fourth quarter allowing their opponent to catch them.

Last week it was Boise State led by true freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier which rallied from a 31 – 13 deficit to claim the upset win over Florida State.

Saturday night it was the ULM Warhawks out of a Sun Belt Conference, who did the same. On the first Saturday in September, it was a 17-point fourth-quarter by the visitors that forced overtime and the dramatic “second-guessers delight” final chapter of the game .

First, a tip of the cap has to go to Seminoles sophomore running back, Cam Akers, who ran incredibly hard for 193 yards and two scores and also caught the go-ahead short pass and run touchdown that put FSU up 38 – 35 with under six minutes to play in the game.

However, ULM remained composed behind veteran dual-threat quarterback Caleb Evans. He had already led three second-half touchdown drives and he got them into game-tying field goal range. When Jacob Meeks booted through a 24 yarder with 1:30 left, we were headed to OT.

And when ULM won the toss, they rightfully put Florida State on offense first to see what the Noles would or wouldn’t do? Predictably, Akers put them back on top with his third and final touchdown of the game and Ricky Aguayo booted in the extra point for a 45 – 38 lead.

And, that’s where the fourth year ULM coach, Matt Viator (above), decided to play it safe. With Florida State’s defense clearly spent, again, just like last week against Boise State, the Warhawks easily got in the end zone themselves in just three plays capped by Evans fourth total touchdown of the evening, a 5-yard run.

But, even though they were a 23 Point underdog who had trailed 24 – 7 at the half, Viator chose to play it safe and attempt to retie the game.

That’s when, left-footed Meeks pull-hooked the PAT wide right, and the plug was pulled on a valiant attempted upset.

Look, there’s no guarantee that the Warhawks would have scored the two pointer for the win.

But, seriously, with how easily beaten FSU’s defense has been after halftime the last two weeks, would anyone have questioned going for victory? That’s especially if you let Evans use his wheels to get on the perimeter, again, just like he had done successfully repeatedly, including the TD?

In the end, Viator and ULM are only left with a “gut punch” of a missed short kick that cost them any shot at victory. And wondering, if they wouldn’t have been celebrating a stunning comeback instead of a deflating shanked extra point had they just been confident enough to try it.

Florida State Seminoles

Report- Bob Stoops no longer candidate for FSU job

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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

At FSU continues to look for a replacement for Willie Taggart, you can scratch one prominent name off the list.

Friday afternoon the Tallahassee Democrat reported the former Oklahoma coach, Bob Stoops, is no longer a candidate for the vacancy:

Reports previously were that Stoops was one of the leading choices to take over the floundering Seminole program, and that Florida State may have already extended a massive offer to him.

However, Stoops, who coached Oklahoma from 1999-2016 and won a BCS National Championship against Florida State in the 2000 Orange Bowl, wants to instead keep his job as coach and general manager of the Dallas Renegades of the reboot of the XFL this February.

Stoops had also refused to deny being interested/linked to the Seminoles job, at a public Q & A for the XFL in Dallas last week.

There is obviously a financial concern for Florida State of not only the buyout that they still owe Taggart, which is believed to be somewhere around $17 million, but the potential buyout of another established coach, plus that coach’s salary for 2020 and beyond.

We wrote earlier this week that current interim coach Odell Haggins could be an excellent short-term solution for a lot of the needs that Florida state has, including financial resources.

Haggins coached the Noles to a dramatic 38 – 31 win in Boston last week over the B..C Eagles, which has now put FSU in position to make a bowl game. They need only one more victory and play FCS Alabama State at noon Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday

It is still believed that Florida State is very interested in Stoops’ younger brother Mark, who is the current coach at Kentucky, and is the former defensive coordinator for four seasons (2009-12) with Jimbo Fisher in Tallahassee.

The Democrat article also mentions that Memphis coach Mike Norvell, Penn State coach James Franklin and Iowa State coach, Matt Campbell, are candidates that FSU will seriously consider.

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Florida State Seminoles

Argument for keeping Odell Haggins as FSU coach

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Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

As FSU enters their second week of trying to solve their coaching vacancy situation, the best immediate solution maybe staring right at them in interim coach, Odell Haggins.

Haggins oversaw Florida State’s dramatic 38-31 win at Boston College Saturday, which coupled with his two victories as interim coach at the end of the 2017 season has already demonstrated, in a small sample, that he has promise as a head coach. FSU will play FCS Alabama State Saturday and will likely win easily and assure themselves of a bowl game, too.

As for the search, there are three important factors in the Seminoles interviewing for the replacement for Willie Taggart.

One, the leadership in Tallahassee needs to bring stability to the program. The departure of Jimbo Fisher to take a more lucrative job in the SEC with Texas A&M and then with the dismal results from Taggart, who had only coached in a Power 5 situation for one year at Oregon, have the Noles in turmoil.

Florida State needs someone who can calm and reassure players, potential recruits, boosters and anyone else, that they’re going to get back to their winning ways. Preferably, someone who’s been there.

Two, FSU has to be concerned in the short-term with recruits “bailing on them” due to the uncertainty the coaching situation. The early signing period is coming in the second week in December. And, Florida State, right now, has one of the top 5 recruiting classes for next year in the country. But that could evaporate over the course of the next 21 days, if they are not reassured.

And finally, what can the Seminoles actually afford? With Taggart’s massive buyout, believed to be $17 million or so and the fact that FSU will have to likely buyout an established head coach for more significant money, and then, pay their salary, money is definitely a concern in the short-term.

So when you analyze Haggins, who’s been an assistant coach or a player at Florida State for 30 years, he is a solid “yes” on all three of those, above.

He would clearly bring stability, as he is Florida State through and through, including being part of Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher’s National Championship staffs/teams.

Two, Haggins has been intimately involved in FSU recruiting for the last two decades. He helped hold the recruiting class together two years ago in December, when Fisher left. And, he has been instrumental in talking to recruits right now during the transition period for the next coach.

And finally, the money concerns could be alleviated, at least on a short-term basis, with hiring Haggins as the coach. He will cost significantly less to promote than the names like Mark Stoops, Mike Norvell, etc. would cost.

FSU could explore even a one or two-year option on a deal with their longtime defensive line assistant, and Haggins would probably be willing to do it for all of the reasons above. This would also be a good short term option in keeping the staff together, like offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, and potentially, elevating Jim Leavitt to defensive coordinator, if they/Haggins would like.

Again, Florida State may be able to land a proven head coach coming up and afford their buyout.

But, if they are not able to do that in short order, Odell Haggins appears to be an excellent option to continue to bring short-term stability and success that’s affordable.

And those are three “wins” that FSU needs right now, too.

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