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.
Report- FSU hires Memphis coach Mike Norvell
The Memphis Tigers secured the American Conference Championship with a dramatic 29 – 24 win over Cincinnati Saturday night, and has been rumored, FSU is securing the Tigers head coach.
Multiple media reports said Saturday night that FSU will name the Memphis head coach, Mike Norvell, to the same position Sunday at a news conference on campus in Tallahassee. The Tallahassee Democrat reported as fact, that Norvell had been hired, but didn’t site a source:
— Wayne McGahee III (@WayneMcGaheeIII) December 8, 2019
FSU told the media Saturday evening that the press conference will be at noon eastern time, which will also be at the same time that the College Football Playoff rankings show will be taking place on ESPN.
And while Norville’s Tigers won’t be in the College Football Playoff, they will be the highest ranked team in the “Group of Five” bowl category, and that means they will be headed to the Cotton Bowl.
However, that will likely be without their head coach of the last four seasons. Norvell took over as a first-time head coach in Memphis in 2016 after having spent the previous four seasons, as offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Memphis won 8 games his first season and then 10 games in his second year. Now, they have just completed the best season in program history at 12 – 1, with that lone loss coming at Temple in October. The Tigers beat the East Division AAC champ, Cincinnati, in each of the last two weeks.
The Tigers won dramatically on Saturday afternoon (above) by scoring with just over a minute left in the game. That’s when quarterback Brady White hit wide receiver Antonio Gibson with a 6-yard touchdown and the 29-24 lead. The Tigers missed the two point play and the Bearcats still had life to win the game.
But, Memphis’ defense then held Cincinnati on downs after the Bearcats drove in the final :30 within their 25-yard line.
Norvell is expected to receive a good-sized pay raise from the $2.6 million contract he agreed to with Memphis after the 2018 season.
FSU fired coach Willie Taggart on November 3rd after a humiliating loss the day before to Miami. Florida State sufferd their first losing season in over forty years during Taggart’s first campaign in 2018 and were on track to potentially have a second straight losing season, when he was fired.
Interim coach Odell Haggins led them to a win at Boston College and at home over FCS Alabama State making Florida State bowl eligible.
It is unclear whether Norvell will stay behind and coach Memphis in the biggest bowl game in program history, or if that will go to an interim coach instead.
Why hasn’t Florida State named their new coach?
Why hasn’t Florida State announced the hire of a new head football coach? It is a legitimate question to ask as Conference Championship Weekend approaches.
The early signing period comes closer, and the Seminoles know they need to nail down recruits to give themselves a fighting chance in 2020 and, more realistically, 2021. The more this head coaching search drags out – now that we are in December – the worse it looks for Florida State.
Moreover, the whole point (or at least the main point) of firing Willie Taggart a few weeks before the end of the regular season was precisely to get a head start on the head coaching search and find the right man for the right price in a precarious time for Seminole football.
If Florida State doesn’t have a coach firmly secured by Sunday morning – before the College Football Playoff teams and New Year’s Six bowl assignments are announced – it will be buried in the news cycle. Announcing a hire late Sunday night or early Monday morning won’t create the same splash and will certainly come across as being “late” in a meaningful sense. FSU won’t get the maximum amount of attention and publicity it needs.
The clock really is ticking. Yes, it is better to be late than to settle for a terrible hire. Florida State (and any other school in its position) is better served by getting the right coach late in a carousel cycle than to be stuck with the wrong man and making the hire “on time,” before Sunday afternoon.
We can all understand the bigger picture, though: Florida State, a program of great stature and significance, should be able to get a good hire AND be on time. The Seminoles ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
The conventional wisdom – or at least, one of several prevailing thoughts if there isn’t majority agreement on this point – is that Florida State will wait until after Saturday’s AAC Championship Game between Cincinnati and Memphis to announce the hire of Memphis coach Mike Norvell.
If this IS in fact the case (we’ll see, one way or the other), Florida State will have gotten one of the better options in the coaching carousel. Norvell’s (above) name has been thrown about for a long time at Power Five schools. His arrival would certainly offer the promise of an elite offense (and strong quarterback development) returning to Tallahassee.
It wouldn’t be a home-run, but it would be viewed as a reasonably good hire under complicated circumstances, a move which could certainly work if Norvell plays his cards right.
The bigger question – and potential problem – for FSU is if a Norvell deal has NOT been lined up, and if the program is scrambling. Then we’re in a different landscape with a lot more uncertainty.
We talk about this larger topic at this time every year: In a coaching search, there is always a prime target. If that target is secured (in this case Norvell), great.
If not, are you – as an athletic director – ready with your Plan B? Is Dave Coburn, armed with his search firm, ready?
We’re about to find out if FSU has its Plan A firmly secured, or if the school has its Plan B ready to go before the College Football Playoff announcement.
Or, if FSU has botched this hire completely by letting others who started later get coaches out from under them.