As our headline clearly presents, we interrupt the chaos and fantasy of those anti-Willie Taggart Florida State fans, who believe that somehow, he is not going to be their coach for the next couple of seasons.
Yes, it is bad right now for Florida State for several reasons. As our Matt Zemek laid out after Saturday’s blowout loss at Syracuse, you can only blame Jimbo Fisher for so much of it. And, because Taggart is in charge, he now will have to bear the brunt of whatever else goes on the next few games and to the end of 2018.
On Monday, Taggart met with the media and read from a prepared statement trying to reassure Florida State fans that the Noles will be better, and soon. Sure, there were many looking at that press conference and saying he doesn’t know what to do. However, FSU is only 1-2 with a winnable game coming this Saturday.
And, fundamentally, one of the things holding them back are talented skill players that must be addressed immediately; the play of the offensive line. And as this article in the Tallahassee Democrat lays out, the Noles do not have a lot of options currently, in terms of new or better personnel.
Still, offensive line coach Greg Frey is very experienced at several other major programs and obviously, offensive coordinator Walt Bell has worked and called plays and had success in major college programs.
So, the belief that those two can improve the scheme and the blocking has to be there for the FSU faithful.
Now for the silliness that Taggart may only last one season.
That’s what it is, silliness.
He would be due over 21 million dollars in a contract buyout, if he was fired after this year, which Florida state would never pay at this stage.
Further complicating the situation, Florida State’s AD Stan Wilcox, who did the deal with Taggart last December to bring him from Oregon to Tallahassee, is leaving next month for a position with the NCAA. So, the Seminoles new athletic director, yet to be hired, will have to probably be given a season to evaluate Taggart and that is going to be 2019.
And it’s important to remember the Taggart had a 2 – 10 record his first year at USF, but eventually turned them into a 10-win and bowl game winning program before leaving for the Pac-12 two years ago.
Now, Taggart did win a couple of games early in the Oregon season last year to take the pressure off, but still finished just 7-5, leaving before the Ducks bowl game.
So, perhaps the FSU offense will imporve this week against Northern Illinois, at least enough for Florida State to try and salvage a five or six wins season.
But, if it does not, Willie Taggart is still not going anywhere.
FSU visited by Dungy and Brooks in Bradenton
FSU has spent the week practicing at IMG in Bradenton. On Wednesday, head coach Willie Taggart invited former NFL head coach Tony Dungy and Seminole legend Derrick Brooks spend some time with the team and offer a few words of wisdom after practice.
Had a wonderful time visiting the @FSUFootball team today with @DBrooks55 We talked about developing a positive culture of excellence and unity. Derrick talked about how to be a well rounded student and teammate. Thanks Coach Taggart for giving us the opportunity. https://t.co/yrWsJUbMJK
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) August 14, 2019
Taggart wanted the guys to give his payers some insight on what it takes to be a part of a turn around team.
The former Super Bowl winning head coach told the team team that, if they want to see success on the field, they’re going to have to come together to do it.
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) August 15, 2019
He ended with what it really means to be a champion, and having that championship mentality goes far beyond what you can do for your school on the field.
“Being a champion isn’t just being the best you can be on the field. Thats part of it. But it’s being the best teammate you can be, its being the best student you can be, person you can be and impact everyone. We didn’t bring you to Florida State just to win a national champion ship…Be the best person you can be for this university, for your family for your teammates, and you’ll leave a legacy here at Florida State.
You guys wanted to come to Florida State because of what these guys did. There are kids now who are going to want to come to Florida State because of what guys do. And that’s the power, that’s the fun, that’s what you’re going to really remember.”
Brooks then joined him for an extended Q&A session and told the group of guys, including his son, sophomore DeCalon Brooks, about what goes into a championship culture.
“It doesn’t take talent to have a championship culture, right? It takes effort. It takes awesome. No excuses, no explanations.” And mirroring the sentiment of Dungy he added, “that championship culture has to extend itself off the field…and we have the ingredients to be a championship-culture program.”
Coach Dungy has had a relationship with the Seminoles for a while, as Bobby Bowden was one of his role models when he began his career in coaching. And, in his time in Tampa with the Bucs, he coached two FSU greats in Brooks and Warrick Dunn.
Dungy and Brooks were foundational pieces of turning the Buccaneer program around and instilling a championship culture in Tampa Bay.
There’s no doubt that Tallahassee is ready for the return of a championship culture.
FSU Starting QB plot thickens
Many FSU fans are heading into the football season cautiously optimistic that this year, at the very least, will be an improvement from the last. Others are still questioning if Willie Taggart’s second year will look any different from the first, and that’s largely due to the fact that the Noles are just under three weeks away from kickoff with no certain QB1.
With former FSU starter Deodre Francois long gone, the battle is mainly between former backup QB James Blackman and former Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook. From what we can tell so far, it seems as if FSU’s offensive staff has spent much of the offseason preparing Blackman for the job, but for the most part, it still seems up in the air.
On Monday, Taggart was asked by the media if there would any benefit to deciding who is going to be the starting quarterback sooner rather than later.
His answer was vauge, but encouraging.
“It all depends on the circumstances. I think you always like to have a guy that’s your guy but we’re going to keep it competitive. Both guys are doing a great job and it’s been fun to watch. They both go in and execute the offense and I’ve been impressed because not only do they execute the offense with the ones but they get in with the twos and do that same thing. That’s impressive to me. They both are having a really good camp and we’ll keep it going.”
“We’ll keep it going” is not exactly what Florida State fans want to hear as they eagerly await for an offensive leader they can begin rallying behind.
For now, all we have to go on is what’s been happening in practice.
Brendan Sonnone of Noles247 reported on the state of the competition from practice on Monday. Here’s what he had to say about each of the guys vying for the job.
Sonnone started with Blackman, saying that he’s continuing to stand out.
“Spent 10-15 minutes watching the quarterbacks throw on Sunday and James Blackman remained the most consistent of the bunch in that viewing time. Blackman, who appears to be having fun but also quickly getting in and out of reps, was on target on every throw he made on the day. He regularly put it across the facemasks of his receiver or on their hands. Easily catchable balls.”
James Blackman to Tre’ McKitty pic.twitter.com/rqKTB2q0j0
— Noles247.com (@Noles247) August 11, 2019
As for Hornibrook, Sonnone said:
“He also knows where he is going with the ball and when to get rid of it. His main issue is that he sometimes leaves them a bit high.”
Alex Hornibrook to Jordan Young pic.twitter.com/bk3CNqdlRF
— Noles247.com (@Noles247) August 11, 2019
But, now officially in the mix is Louisville transfer, Jordan Travis. On Monday morning, it was announced that he has been officially been granted eligibility for the 2019 season.
According to Noles247, “He had one of the nicer balls of the viewing session when he connected on a vertical route with wide receiver Adarius Dent. Travis has looked to be moving around with a bit of a limp in recent days.”
Jordan Travis to Adarius Dent pic.twitter.com/UKofjCi5Nb
— Noles247.com (@Noles247) August 11, 2019
The addition of Travis into the competition is likely going to make it harder for Taggart and OC Kendal Briles to select their starting guy, but on the positive side, it’s better to have too many options than not enough.
We just hope that the right decision can be made before the season kicks off, rather than during.