Former FSU head coach Willie Taggart was officially introduced as Florida Atlantic University’s new head coach on Thursday afternoon. Along with the announcement, were the details to his new contract with the Owls.
According to USA Today and the Associated Press, Taggart is receiving $750,000 a year in base pay for five years with a $3 million buyout if Taggart leaves before December of 2022.
Willie Taggart contract with FAU is for 5 years at $750,000 basic pay annually, plus $25,000 annual retention payment, so $775,000 total, per document from school
— Steve Berkowitz (@ByBerkowitz) December 12, 2019
— Taggart will make $750,000 per year for five years. For comparison, FAU’s last head coach, Lane Kiffin, made a $950,000 base salary per year. Kiffin’s earnings went over $1 million when a home loan, given to him by FAU, was factored in.
— Taggart owes FAU $3 million if he leaves the school or is fired before Dec. 1, 2022. The buyout drops to $1 million if he leaves before Dec. 1, 2023 and $500,000 between Dec. 2, 2023-Dec. 31, 2024.
— Taggart will receive a $25,000 retention bonus every Jan. 15.
— Incentives for Taggart include $100,000 for making a New Year’s Six Bowl or a top-10 finish. Taggart earns $50,000 for a Top 25 finish or for being named the National Coach of the Year.
— Taggart receives $20,000 for making the Conference USA Championship Game and $40,000 for winning it. FAU has won two league titles in the past three years.
— Taggart earns an extra $30,000 for making a bowl game. Winning the national championship nets Taggart $500,000.
— Taggart’s buyout is offset by his base salary at FAU. FSU will save around $3 million on Taggart’s $18 million buyout.
In addition to his salary, the University is offering perks such as a car allowance, a membership at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, and the option for family to travel on team charter.
Taggart, who was fired in November, halfway into his second season at Florida State, will be replacing Lane Kiffin, who departed for Ole Miss after Saturday’s Conference USA championship game win over UAB.
The reason Florida State fans have to be so enthusiastic is the Taggart was reportedly owed over $17 million on his buyout with four years left on his deal. However, that amount has to be lessened some, if not significantly, since he’s going to immediately take another head coaching job. It’s still not clear how much FSU will still be paying Taggart.
Taggart went just 9-12 in his season and a half with the Noles, which included Florida State suffering their first losing season in over forty years in 2018, when they went 5 – 7. When 2019 began with a collapsing loss at home to Boise State and then a near loss-OT victory over UL-Monroe, it seemed the handwriting was on the wall.
The final blow in Tallahassee came when Taggart’s team looked lifeless and undisciplined in their 27-10 loss to ACC instate rival Miami Novemeber 2nd. He was dismissed the next afternoon.
Taggart came to FSU from Oregon, where he spent one year and went 7-5 before jumping, again, in December of 2017 to take the Noles job. He previously was the coach at USF for four seasons, where after starting 2-10 year one, he reversed that number in his final year (2016) to 10 – 2.
Now that his contract is signed, he’ll be fully a go to pick up recruiting in the state where he’s well known in from his previous tenures in state programs.
ACC releases FSU and Miami dates for 2020 opponents
The Atlantic Coast Conference released their conference schedule for 2020 on Wednesday morning, and we now know the opponents and the order of conference games for the Seminoles and the Hurricanes.
First, for Miami. They already knew that they were opening the pre-conference schedule with Temple at home on Saturday, September 5th, and there toughest early test will likely be at Michigan State three Saturdays later.
The 2020 📅 has officially arrived!
This year's schedule features seven games at @HardRockStadium including Florida State.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 22, 2020
Miami will play their only non-Saturday ACC game six days later on a Friday night in Winston-Salem, NC, against Wake Forest.
Miami also has home games with North Carolina and then the Seminoles, which comes on November 7th. The Hurricanes will also play at Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech before finishing the season on Saturday November 28th back at home vs. Duke.
As for the Seminoles, they come off of a loaded pre-conference season where they are playing West Virginia in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend Saturday September 5th. And, they are playing at Boise State in the return game for last year’s upset loss on September 19th in Idaho.
FSU learned Wednesday, that they will open at NC State on Saturday October 3rd. The Noles and first year coach Mike Norvell, then get four time defending champion Clemson, as their second ACC opponent the following week in Tallahassee.
Then, they also host Wake Forest on October 17th. FSU’s remaining road games are at Louisville, Miami and Syracuse. The game against the Orange will be on Thursday night November 19th.
Florida State’s final ACC home game will be with Boston College on the previous Saturday, November 14th.
As part of the ACC schedule release, UCF learned that they will be playing Friday night September 4th in their home opener with North Carolina. That game to be televised nationally by ESPN.
The Knights already knew that they would be playing Georgia Tech in the pre-conference schedule on September 19th in Atlanta.
Cristobal Oregon Rose Bowl win reminder of what Taggart left
Aas the Oregon Ducks celebrated a Rose Bowl victory New Year’s night in Pasadena, one angle to think about was the events of the last couple of years, as it relates to Willie Taggart abandoning their program just one year in, but Mario Cristobal staying behind and leading them to great things.
First, the Ducks won a thrilling 28 – 27 addition of the New Year’s Day classic over Wisconsin to cap off a 12 – 2 season. NFL prospect quarterback Justin Herbert threw for three touchdowns and ran for the eventual game-winning score in the win:
Justin Herbert showing he has wheels too 💨 pic.twitter.com/sgeEfZjuGj
— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2020
And, off the heels of a Pac-12 Championship upset of Utah a month ago, Cristobal is now “riding high” with the momentum of one of the best football brands in the West.
He posted later on Wednesday night a special thank you to the Duck fans and alumni for now being part of the program and their success:
— Mario Cristobal (@coach_cristobal) January 2, 2020
Interestingly, his connection to come to Eugene was Taggart being hired three years ago at this time. The former USF coach needed someone that understood offense and recruiting and brought the former FIU coach, Cristobal with him to the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon had some success but also suffered five losses, and the next thing you knew Taggart jumped at the chance to take over at Florida State. There were many who reported and believed that Taggart wanted to bring Cristobal and defensive coordinator, Jim Leavitt, with him to the Seminoles.
However, Oregon AD Rob Mullens was so impressed with Cristobal in the interview process and having seen him up close for year with the team, that he ended up promoting him to be the head coach. And, he gave Leavitt a fat raise to remain, as the defensive coordinator in Eugene.
And, as it turns out, that sunk Taggart from the very beginning on having two former head coaches to come and help him not only with the X’s and O’s but with recruiting in Florida which they are both Masters at.
Instead, Florida State completely unraveled in just a few short weeks of play in 2018 Cristobal helped the Ducks get to a bowl game.
And, that led to this season and great anticipation as Oregon opened at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium the home of the Cowboys with powerhouse Auburn. Auburn beat the Ducks with a touchdown in the final seconds, but it would be their only loss for the next 10 weeks.
In the meantime, Taggart got himself further in trouble with early-season losses and eventually fired on November 3rd after a 27 – 10 defeat to the Miami Hurricanes at home.
And as we stated above, the Oregon team excelled when it mattered the most establishing itself, again as the team to beat in the Pac-12 with their two postseason wins.
Now, FSU has gone on to replace Taggart with the very successful Memphis coach, Mike Norvell, and there is some optimism about his arrival in the Panhandle.
With Norvell in charge in 2020, the Seminoles will likely open with a win total of 6.5, down a game from last season according to this site here. And, while Norvell is a solid hire, FSU has its usual tough slate next season hosting Clemson and Florida, while facing Miami and Boise State on the road. The Noles are likely to be underdogs in another road date with resurgent Louisville too.
So, coming off a 6-7 year, FSU should consider it a success to have this team over .500 in his first season.
Now, back to Cristobal.
There is an argument that Oregon may not have enjoyed the same success with Taggart as the head coach, as they did with Cristobal taking over. Still, with Herbert at quarterback, it’s very likely that Oregon would have at least had a seven or eight wins season in each of the last couple of years and going to a bowl game again.
Do they go 12-2, win the Pac 12 and eventually, the Rose Bowl with Taggart? That’s a stretch to believe after how dismally he coached in Tallahassee.
And, since his firing, Taggart scrambled to find the head coaching job at Conference USA, Florida Atlantic, while Cristobal is looking at a significant raise to be at a Powerhouse Pac-12 program after a Rose Bowl win.
It’s a perfect example of a cliche in sports, that: “sometimes the best move, is one that you don’t make.”
Taggart should have never left Oregon and Cristobal was smart not to.
And, eventually, he ended up the head coach.
A head coach who was holding up a Rose Bowl trophy with his team in Pasadena Wednesday night
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