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Florida State Seminoles

FSU unraveling last two years can’t all be blamed on Jimbo Fisher

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One thing is for sure, whether you’re talking about personal relationships or even, a school is trying to get over a football coach who left things worse than when he got there, it is always easy to “blame the ex.” However, it doesn’t really serve FSU to dwell much more on what Jimbo Fisher did or did not leave them with, when he departed at the end of 2017.

Rather, the focus should be on how quickly can second-year coach Willie Taggart restore them into a national power….. IF he can at all?

National college football writer Matt Hayes wrote a freelance article for Bleacher Report that published on Monday and it in part blamed Fisher for a good portion of the recent problems in Tallahassee and at the same time, propped up Taggart, as a guy that can save the situation:

Hayes wrote about FSU’s quick decline in the 2017 season. And, unmistakably, Fisher had all but “mentally checked out” and stop recruiting, while looking to get the Texas A&M job by November of that season. And Hayes took it a step further quoting unnamed assistants about how the culture had become for the Noles:

“We were Clemson before Clemson,” a former assistant to Fisher at FSU says. “We were the team that had caught Alabama and was getting ready to pass them.

“Then it all fell off the cliff.”

Then, Hayes pinpointed an easy target to further blame with the treatment of former Heisman and National Championship winning QB Jameis Winston writing from another unnamed coach on Fisher’s staff at Florida State and more:

“Look, entitlement only gets that way if you allow it. You want to know why some kids thought they could do whatever they wanted? It was allowed.”

For no one more so than Winston, whom three former assistants all named as the key figure in the program’s collapse. (Winston’s representation declined to provide him for comment on this story.) A Heisman Trophy winner, the foundation of FSU’s 27 wins in 28 games in 2013 and 2014 and the eventual No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, Winston’s FSU career was marked by off-field issues.

Among them was a rape allegation that was never criminally prosecuted but led to the university paying $950,000 to settle a Title IX lawsuit. And then an embarrassing citation for shoplifting crab legs. And then early in the second of Winston’s two seasons played at FSU, he was suspended for one game by the university after making “offensive and vulgar” comments while standing on a table.

Winston actually dressed and showed up on the field for warm-ups for the game he was to be out, beginning to work through the team’s typical routine. Fisher walked over to Winston and argued with his star quarterback about his presence on the field. Winston eventually left and came back in street clothes and his jersey to join the Seminoles on the sideline. After the game, Fisher explained away the incident with a ham-handed statement about “a miscommunication between us and the locker room.”

That moment, one former FSU assistant coach says, was when the doors of entitlement swung wide open.”

Yes, Florida State still had a solid 2016 season, but it definitely had signs that cracks had formed. Louisville and, eventual Heisman winner Lamar Jackson torched the Noles for 63 points in a September game, Clemson also defeated them in Tallahassee and FSU failed to make, much less win the ACC Title Game. Still, they won the Orange Bowl at the end of that year and everything outwardly appeared on track.

It all unraveled right away in 2017 the huge showdown opening game in Atlanta with Alabama when QB Deondre Francois was lost for he season with a patellar tendon tear in his left knee. That left FSU with only true freshman QB James Blackman to turn to, and he struggled to get up to speed of big time college football. He could not. And FSU suffered through it’s worst seasons in almost 40 years (5-6 in early December) before Fisher left.

FSU’s new athletics director, Dave Coburn, defended Taggart repeatedly in the Hayes item and promises improvement in all areas, including academics. FSU was dead last in APR academic rankings for the Power Five conferences a year ago. Most of that was on Fisher’s watch.

So, Taggart, who had already built staffs at Western Kentucky, USF and for one year at Oregon was brought in to bring Florida State back into prominence, including with recruiting.

Yet, as we documented over the two recruiting classes that Taggart has overseen, FSU failed to sign a significant QB in either one of them. That’s almost unforgivable for a program the stature of Florida State and it’s on Taggart and former offensive coordinator Walt Bell and current one, Kendal Briles for that short coming.

FSU did get Wisconsin transfer Alex Hornibrook to help compete for this year, but it remains to be seen how much he will help the offense.

Still, Hayes put in his final analysis that Taggart, eventually turned around Western Kentucky, USF and had Oregon back on track in his only year at 7-5. He then got these comments directly from the embattled coach:

“I saw it when [Francois] went down with an injury (Alabama game) and the entire team was crushed,” Taggart says. “I look for those red flags, those things that show you it’s a problem on and off the field. I see other teams now, and I think, ‘I guarantee this is what’s going on there.'”

He pauses and thumps his knuckles on the big oak table in the big office that overlooks Doak Campbell Stadium.

“Then you see a team that’s winning,” he says, his voice rising. “They love each other. They care for each other. They’re having fun. They create it.

“We’re far from a finished product, but it’s coming. And it’s going to be a beautiful thing.”

So don’t blame Willie Taggart for how we got to this point.

He’s just getting started.”

Time will tell if Taggart and Florida State can pull out of the 5-7 tailspin of a year ago and turn it around.

One thing is clear: blaming Jimbo Fisher and Jameis Winston, who are both long gone in 2019, isn’t going to help them improve.

Florida State Seminoles

FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

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