Florida State’s newest defensive analyst Jim Leavitt wasted no time stepping into his new role, as he was seen at practice the morning after his job was announced. This is good news for the seminole’s defense as they are just a couple of days away from facing their biggest challenge of the season thus far against conference opponent, Virginia.
First look at Jim Leavitt, @FSUFootball’s new senior defensive analyst, at practice on Thursday morning. Willie Taggart worked with Leavitt at Oregon, and this morning called Leavitt “a great addition to our football staff.” pic.twitter.com/oP1TxiQXWX
— Tim Linafelt / FSU (@Tim_Linafelt) September 12, 2019
FSU head coach Willie Taggart spoke to the media Thursday morning about the new addition to his staff and what that is going to mean for the FSU football team.
He reinforced multiple times that this change was going to have an immediate positive effect on the team, and the defensive staff is fully behind the choice.
“I think it’s a great addition to our football staff to get someone of that quality and that experience to be in that defensive role… someone that coach Barnett and the other defensive coaches can lean on…His knowledge of defense and understanding defense and his experience by itself is going to help ” He added, “I talked to coach Barnett and told him my thinking… and he was excited it would help our football team. Whenever we can help our football team and help ourselves get better, then we’re going to try to do that.”
Taggart initially tried to get Leavitt on staff before the season after Oregon coach Mario Cristobal decided to dismiss Leavitt after his two seasons in Eugene. Leavitt did get a handsome buyout that was contingent on whether he coaches and in what role in 2019 and 2020.
Though it never panned out earlier this year, Taggart said that now was the “right timing.” When asked how he reached back out to Leavitt he simply said, “It’s something we’d talked about before and I picked up the phone and called and [Leavitt] said ‘Absolutely.’”
It couldn’t be come at a better time for Taggart, whose team allowed 80 points and more than 1,000 yards combined only two games into the season. To say he’s in the “hot seat” in Tallahassee would be an understatement. And it’s only going to get hotter as they face head into their first conference game of the season.
Taggart is well aware of how much is a stake in the next couple of weeks, starting this weekend. But, he’s now got a proven defensive force on staff who could begin to tighten up some of FSU’s loose ends on defense before Saturday.
“He’s here, and Virginias here, and they’re a really good football team. We got our hands full so we’ve got to get ready for them.”
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.