Florida State made a reasonable decision
Florida State has fired Willie Taggart.
Part of the official press release is below pic.twitter.com/OSMEmT7Eny
— Warchant.com (@Warchant) November 3, 2019
Who should be Florida State’s next football coach? I know you want to hear about it, but right now, let’s first process the decision FSU made to fire Willie Taggart before the Boston College-Florida home stretch.
Was it reasonable? Was it fair? Before we search for a successor, it is worth evaluating a coach firing on its own terms. It is important to do so, because the historical record demands accountability and a willingness to evaluate moves not just when they are made, but when their effects are apparent.
If people such as myself were confident in thinking that Willie Taggart would do well at Florida State when he was originally hired (not stratospherically great, but 10 wins per season and a threat to Clemson; I did think Taggart would be able to do that much), I have to do two other things as well:
A) Admit I was wrong.
B) Evaluate the decision to fire him at this point in time.
Firing coaches after two years on the job is very serious business in college football, especially at blue-blood programs. It is not a decision to be made – or taken – lightly. If a program fires a coach after two seasons, it can have a chilling effect on the marketplace. It can make attractive candidates shy away, for fear of not getting adequate support from the administration if things go wrong early in a tenure.
There are two reasons a quick-trigger coach firing can occur (within the first two seasons). One is a terrible off-field scandal which severely damages the program’s reputation and brand.
The second reason pertains to on-field results: A program has to be a disaster for a coach to be fired after two seasons.
Did FSU meet that level of ineptitude? Let’s use an important piece of context here.
We remember how great the ACC was in 2016: Lamar Jackson won the Heisman and made Louisville an extremely dangerous team. Virginia Tech looked great under Justin Fuente that season. Georgia Tech still had Paul Johnson and was still a bowl program, unlike this year.
The 2016 ACC had three teams with 10 or more wins, six with nine or more, eight with eight or more, and 11 teams with at least seven wins. ACC teams won nine postseason games.
If Florida State had finished 3-5 in that year’s ACC, and 6-6 overall, the result would not be acceptable, but it wouldn’t be cause for firing a coach after two seasons.
However, the 2019 ACC is profoundly different league compared to 2016.
Stumbling in this version of the ACC is orders of magnitude worse than struggling in an elite conference such as the 2016 ACC. If you were to say this program is a disaster after two seasons of Willie Taggart, the argument is entirely reasonable. One could debate the merits of a coach firing after two seasons, but the discussion itself is legitimate.
Let’s offer a few points of comparison: The Big Ten has three unbeaten teams right now: Ohio State, Penn State, and Minnesota. The SEC has LSU and Alabama playing this Saturday, with Georgia owning one loss and Auburn and Florida having two losses.
Finishing fifth or sixth in those two conferences would put a program on par with Michigan (Big Ten) or Auburn (SEC). Florida State does not expect to finish fifth in the ACC, but the 2016 ACC was a beast of a conference. The 2019 ACC (Clemson excepted, of course) is a cute little puppy dog who likes to play with plush toys. It is soft and cuddly.
Florida State can’t be viewed as anywhere near the top five in this year’s ACC. Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina would probably fill out the top seven teams, the top half of the 14-team conference. You could make the case that Florida State is closer to being the 10th-best ACC team than the fifth-best team.
In Year 1, okay, sure – Taggart had to get adjusted to everything.
Late in Year 2? No – this is completely unacceptable.
Who should be the next coach? We will tackle that question soon enough. For now, let’s be clear: This was an entirely reasonable move. Florida State had legitimate reason to fire Willie Taggart before the end of a second full season.
FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday
In an effort to continue to beef up their out-of-conference schedules, FSU announced on Tuesday that they will play newly-crowned National Champion, LSU in two neutral site games coming soon in 2022 and 2023.
The Seminoles made the announcement through social media and their website that they will be playing the “Bayou Bengals” first in New Orleans and then, in Orlando:
Noles vs. Tigers set for '22/'23!!!https://t.co/nfLwLGhXE3
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) February 11, 2020
Both teams will be given the benefit of essentially a “home-away-from-home neutral-site game” on Labor Day weekend. LSU considers New Orleans to be their second home and just won the College Football Playoff National Championship game over Clemson there on January 12.
The first game with the Noles will be on Saturday night September 4th, 2022.
FSU will, then play “hosts” in Orlando against the Tigers the following year on Saturday night September 3rd. The Noles recently played a season-opening game with Ole Miss, whom they defeated, at Camping World Stadium in 2016.
New Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell had this to say in the school statement about adding the games coming soon,
“I’m excited about this series,” head coach Mike Norvell said. “Florida State has a rich tradition in Louisiana, the home of many former Seminoles including Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor, and all three of our national championship teams had at least one player from Louisiana. It continues to be an important area for us now. We added two players from Louisiana in our first signing class, and it will be great for them and other future Noles to be able to play back in their home state.
This series matches two of the iconic brands in college football, and I know our fans will have a great time in New Orleans and Orlando. I want to thank our administration for all their hard work on this and for continuing to pursue first-class experiences for our student-athletes.”
These will be the 10th and 11th times that Florida State and LSU will meet. The Noles hold a 7 – 2 advantage, including winning four straight games in the series. It is the first time the two schools will have played since 1991.
Further, Florida State is 9 – 2 in their last 11 games opening a season on a neutral field. The Seminoles were to have played Boise State in Jacksonville last Labor Day weekend, but the threat of Hurricane Dorian moved the game to Tallahasse.
That’s where the Broncos upset the Seminoles and sent coach Willie Taggart into a second year spiral that resulted in his firing in November.
The Noles are also 8 – 2 all-time in games at the Superdome with the most prominent one coming in the BCS Championship Game win over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes
NFL Hall of Famer and former Seminoles All-American defensive back Deion Sanders is making the rounds for broadcast outlets at Super Bowl 54 in Miami,. And it’s not just his NFL Network duties that made some news on Tuesday. Rather, it’s an interview, where he expressed more desire for coaching college football and maybe, even in the city where he currently is working this week.
Sanders appeared on The Dan Patrick television – radio show Tuesday in advance of the 49ers and the Chiefs meeting for pro football’s title at Hard Rock stadium Sunday night.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) January 28, 2020
And, while most of the interview centered around the NFL and the Super Bowl match-up, Patrick naturally turned to Deion’s desire to apparently be a head coach in college football and maybe, as soon as next year.
This subject came up after Sanders was apparently under consideration to possibly be the new head coach at FSU, when they fired Willie Taggart in early November. The school and AD David Coburn did confirm that they had a serious formal discussion with “Prime Time” about building a staff, etc.
That’s when Patrick turn the questioning to Sanders’ son and what might test his loyalty to FSU and possibly, coaching at a hated-rival like the University of Miami.
“What if ‘The U’ called?” Patrick asked.
“You know what is so funny, cuz I saw that when I was watching you on television (earlier in the day when Patrick said he would ask Sanders about Miami). My son is a phenomenal quarterback. My youngest son. He has a plethora of offers. We’re going to visit ‘The U’ on Saturday,” Sanders said.
“But would you coach the U?,” Patrick quickly asked again.
“You know what. You never know,” Sanders replied leaving the door open, like most do.
“Are you a ‘package deal’ with your son,” asked Patrick?
“I’ve never been a package deal with any-body,” Sanders shot back, which drew laughter from the studio audience at Patrick’s Super Bowl show site.
Now, the Hurricanes have obviously floundered for much of the 2010s, including 2019 with first-year coach Manny Diaz struggling mightily down the stretch of his first season. Miami lost it’s final two games to finish 6 – 6, and then, were shutout humiliatingly by Louisiana Tech 14 – 0 in the Independence Bowl.
Miami has swapped offensive coordinators after Diaz fired Dan Enos after just his first season. The Canes have hired former Auburn and SMU play-caller Rhett Lashlee to replace him. And, they secured Houston dual threat transfer QB D’Eriq King for this season.
Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State (1987, ’88), and won the Jim Thorpe Award during his final season playing for the Seminoles in 1988. He was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played in the NFL through the 2005 season.
His elite level of play earned him inductions into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sanders has been analyst for the NFL Network for the past 10 years and clearly has the desire to try something else.