With FSU concluding it’s season Wednesday afternoon in the Independence Bowl, new head Nole, Willie Taggart is on scene, but not coaching, in Shreveport, LA.
In fact, Taggart, who is not shy to post on social media, let the fans know earlier on Wednesday that he’s got the backing of some Seminoles all time greats. Including, this guy who was with him at the team hotel Wednesday morning:
— Willie Taggart (@CoachTaggart) December 27, 2017
Deion Sanders, as popular and recognizable a Nole that there currently is right now, also reportedly, spoke to the team prior to the game with Southern Miss.
Meanwhile, back to Taggart, he spoke with ESPN announcers Dave LaMont and Ahmad Brooks in the broadcast booth live during the second quarter. Some quick tidbits from the coach:
On what the last few weeks have been like:
“It’s been fun. Now that it’s the fourth time taking over a program, you’re used to it a little bit….the people in Tallahassee have been really excited…players are really excited and getting a lot of phone calls from coaches.”
That last part is a reference to Taggart trying to fill out his coaching staff from what remains after Jimbo Fisher departed for Texas A&M and took some of them, and some of them remained to coach the bowl game.
On the FSU job itself:
“Florida State has always been that ‘Dream Job’ for me. As a kid I always wanted to play at Florida State. Wasn’t good enough. I wish coach Bowden would’ve recruited me there (Taggart was a high school star QB at Bradenton Manatee High School)…probably would have had another national championship there,” he deadpanned. “Not in a million years would I have thought it would’ve happened right now. And yes, it’s the only job I would have left Eugene (Oregon) for.”
Continuing with the conversation on ESPN TV, on what kind of talent he has right now:
“We have great players. I told one of my buddies the other day, ‘there’s some toys out there to work with.’ We gotta get back to playing team football. Playing with passion and being excited about it.”
Taggart was asked about what Noles fans can expect to see on offense:
“I don’t think you’ll see a huddle,” he joked. “You’ll see the tempo pick up more than what you’ve seen here lately.…we’re going to get our guys in space and let our athletes do what they do.” Taggart’s up tempo spread offenses were very successful two years ago at USF and last year at Oregon. FSU has been one of the slowest paced and using the least amount of plays offenses in college football under Fisher the last few years.
Finally, on keeping Odell Haggins, a long time defensive line assistant, who’s the interim coach for the bowl game and about promoting him Tuesday to Assistant Head Coach:
“I just watched Odell over the last couple of weeks with the football team and how much respect those players have for him. His passion for Florida State….being on the road with him recruiting. He does a great job recruiting. He’s great in the home (recruits). It’s easy to be great at something when you are passionate about it….He’s Florida State through and through.”
Taggart has not completed his coaching staff, and most importantly has not named his offensive and defensive coordinators, as of yet. Those will obviously be crucial hires not just in the short term for the upcoming year, but for his first two or three years.
New FSU coach Willie Taggart anxious to get Noles nationally relevant again
On Thursday morning new FSU coach Willie Taggart met with the ACC media signaling that Seminoles practice and September games won’t be far behind.
Interestingly, it was Taggart’s third different conference media kickoff with his third different school in three years. A year ago he was standing in Los Angeles, as Oregon’s coach at the Pac 12 media days and two years ago, was representing USF at the American Athletic Conference at their media kickoff in Newport, RI.
Nevertheless, Taggart has infused Florida State and their fan base and continued to share his vision for immediately improving them on and off the field. He spoke at length with the ACC Media:
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) July 19, 2018
Taggart covered several interesting subjects, including lack of offensive productivity. He was asked whether it shocked him that FSU was ranked last in several ACC offensive categories:
“I think everything about last year shocked me…. That’s football. That’s life. That’s behind us, now. It’s on us to change those things, because it’s up to us to change those things… That’s the expectation for us: to be a whole lot better than what we did last year. So, I’m looking forward to our guys changing that narrative.”
He was then asked about his vision for the Seminoles program in the near future:
“My vision for this program s to win multiple championships in a first class manner…. That’s always going to be our vision. And, to me, that’s what Florida State is all about. That’s what I grew up (in Bradenton) watchin’, lovin’, when it came to Florida State football. Every year competing for a championship…Every year they were winning. That’s our goal. That’s our vision. That’s why you come to Florida State. To win championships.”
The ACC media waited until the end to ask about the competition at quarterback for this fall. Taggart was amused.
“This is the last question? And someone finally asked me about the quarterback position?… I am kinda like the rest of you all. I’m ready to see who’s going to be our quarterback, as well. I’m excited. This is the first time I’ve been in a position as a the head football coach where we have three guys that can play for you. I’m looking forward to training camp and these guys competing for the job… They understand when you come here, you’re going to have to compete. Nothing is going to be given to you…. Can’t wait to see who separates themselves, as we go into the season. As soon as they do that, we will let you all know.”
The Noles will return 2016 starting QB Deondre Francois, who was lost for the season in the opening game with Alabama, and also sophomore James Blackman who took over and played better, as the season wore on. He led FSU to wins over the Gators and in the Independence Bowl over Southern Miss.
It will be easier with battering ram running back Cam Akers to hand the ball off to, as well.
Finally, Taggart does have a lot to live up to after the Noles massive success of 35 plus years and counting. He’s a coach that is only 47-50 for his career at Western Kentucky, USF and last year at Oregon (7-5 a year ago) and Taggart knows that scrutiny will start with the Labor Day night opener at home with conference rival Virginia Tech and only grow from there.
Noles will open 2019 season in Jacksonville against Boise State
We knew that Florida State would be opening their 2019 season with Boise State, as part of a “home and home” agreement. However, we now know that the game will not be played at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, but rather, at the newly renamed TIAA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, the Florida Times-Union website has more on the game:
JaxSports planned a big announcement on Wednesday about a big football game coming to the city. (But Boise State couldn't wait.)https://t.co/wUDIxULLnp
— Florida Times-Union (@jaxdotcom) May 15, 2018
As the article indicates, the Jacksonville Sports Council or “JaxSports” had intended to make the announcement on Wednesday about the game coming to North Florida, but they were scooped on their scoop by the Broncos.
This will be FSU’s first regular season appearance at the stadium, the 2008 season, when Bobby Bowden’s Noles defeated Colorado 39-21. Coincidentally, Bowden coached his final game of his career at Florida State in the “Gator Bowl” game in that stadium on New Year’s Day 2010, as the Seminoles defeated his former school, West Virginia.
FSU led by QB E.J. Manuel, won that day 33-21 over the Mountaineers, which finished Bowden’s career with 389 wins, the Division I all time record for coaches.
The 2019 opener will be part of the college football kickoff weekend and will be nationally televised by one of ESPN’s networks. This is part of a recent trend by the network to pay heavily to powerhouse programs to play each other that first weekend in “made for TV” match-ups.
Florida State played in such a game on Labor Day night last year in Atlanta, where Alabama defeated them in the “Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic” game at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. Both preseaon top five teams, The Tide stuffed FSU 24-7, and the Noles lost QB Deondre Francois to a season ending knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Longtime Florida State fans have a negative memory in Jacksonville, as the Seminoles were shocked in the opening game of the 1989 season as the preseason #6 team. That opening day, a little known (at the time) QB by the name of Brett Favre led Southern Miss to a 30-26 upset that put him on the radar for the first time and he eventually went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career.
This 2019 game with Boise State is for now set for that Saturday, but could be moved to Sunday or Monday, if ESPN desires at a later date.
Boise is no stranger to opening weekend “made for TV” upsets, as they stunned Georgia in “home away from home” game Atlanta in September of 2011.
The Noles are scheduled to return the home game to the Broncos the following year (2020), but that could be negotiated to another location. This is especially, since FSU moved their game out of their home stadium.
Deondre Francois may be a slight weed head, but he’s no criminal
If you haven’t heard the recent story surrounding FSU QB Deondre Francois regarding his most recent brush up with the local law enforcement in Tallahassee you clearly have been living under a rock. Francois was recently cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession, but is going to have a clean record because he’s participating in a diversion program.
Deondre Francois became the subject of a two-month drug investigation after Tallahassee police received a tip and believed the Florida State quarterback possessed marijuana with the intent to sell, according to a search warrant obtained by the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday.
The anonymous male tipster, who was inside Francois’s apartment in late February, said he saw a large paper grocery-type bag full of cannabis, which TPD estimated at about two pounds, present during a drug-related crime.
The tip led to an investigation in which TPD collected and examined the contents of Francois’ curbside garbage on four separate occasions.
But when TPD concluded its investigation of Francois last Thursday, an executed search warrant conducted at his apartment yielded just 17 grams of marijuana among other items.
To do some math for you: there’s 28 grams in an ounce of marijuana, for those who don’t know. That would mean 17 grams is slightly under 5/8th of an ounce. The local law enforcement spent tax payer money to run a surveillance program for two months to seize 5/8ths of weed.
I want folks to think about this for a second to see how ridiculous this is. Also, I also think people need to hold back their judgement about this situation, as well, unless they understand kind of how drug busts work.
Most of the intelligence police gather are from confidential informants or “CIs” for short. Usually, CIs are involved in some criminal activities themselves. Often times what happens is: confidential informants get caught themselves and are released without a record, as long as they help the police make a larger bust. Basically, you aren’t dealing with any church pastors, unless it’s the pastor doing dirt. These are the guys in the game.
So, yes, the man who gave the police a tip would be categorized as a snitch. My guess, and this is just speculation, is the person they local police used was someone who had previously got caught with marijuana and they scared that person.
So, he said he knew a big name to get him off the hook. It’s possible it’s another student. Who knows?
All evidence at this point makes it look like Francois and his girlfriend like to smoke some weed. Big deal! Weed is legal in several states now and the nation’s capital. Sure it’s not legal for recreation purposes in Florida, but it could be in a few years.
It’s good that Francois isn’t going to have any of this on his record. However, he isn’t going to escape the criticism from folks in the media that are going to make a bigger deal out of this than it really is. It’s strange how these football players can be prescribed opioids for pain management, but as soon as they smoke weed for the same reasons, they are a criminal.
Deondre Francois is guilty of being a weed head or hanging around weed heads. He’s not Nino Brown from New Jack City, like the local police department apparently treated him like.
The Tallahassee Police Department played themselves. As for folks in the media blasting Francois, they need to chill a little bit. Maybe, spark up a backwood or something and relax.
Let Francois live!.
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