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Florida State Seminoles

Walt Bell leaving FSU could be “Sark salvation moment”

Matt Zemek



Brett Davis- USA Today Sports

You are a Florida State fan. You are reading a story with the phrase, “Sark Salvation Moment.”

What the heck does that mean?

Steve Sarkisian is currently the Falcons offensive coordinator (above) in the NFL. Sark used to coach at Alabama, Washington and USC in the college game. What does he have to do with Florida State. More precisely, what does he have to do with the news that Walt Bell, the 34-year-old offensive coordinator for the Seminoles, left to become the head coach at the University of Massachusetts on Monday evening?

I spend part of my year in Seattle. Sarkisian did get a small bread crumb of credit in the Emerald City for lifting Washington from the depths of the Tyrone Willingham era (and the “Rotten Apple Cup” season of 2008, when Washington went 0-12). However, once he did that, he could never lift U-Dub above a modest threshold.

Oregon is Washington’s most bitter rival in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State is the little brother who never offers a real threat. Oregon is the tough, smart, shrewd neighbor who can ruin everything. When Oregon fans are happy, you know Washington is in trouble.

Oregon fans loved to taunt Washington fans with the label, “SEVEN-WIN SARK! SEVEN-WIN SARK!”

The label became a mantra which stuck. Washington fans got to a point where they wanted Sark out. They needed someone to take the program to the next level.

When Lane Kiffin was fired on the tarmac by athletic director Pat Haden in 2013, USC needed a new coach. A man named Ed Orgeron was in the mix, and he wanted to get the permanent job. Haden didn’t give it to him.

Enter Kiffin’s former colleague on Pete Carroll’s offensive staff in the USC glory days of the 2000s.

Sark knew the right people inside USC headquarters at Heritage Hall. He got the job. He left Washington on his own. He wasn’t fired. He coveted the USC job, and USC coveted him — one of several mistakes USC leadership has made this decade.

USC’s stupidity and Sark’s own vision of being The Man in Los Angeles gave Washington the ability to hire Chris Petersen.

The rest, as they say — in Seattle and Los Angeles and anywhere else — is history.

That was Washington football’s Sark Salvation Moment.

Walt Bell bolting for UMass could be the same for the Seminoles.

Willie Taggart was in position to do really well in Year 2 at Oregon in 2018, had he not left for Florida State. One key reason: Jim Leavitt was his defensive coordinator. Taggart had the right assistants in centrally important positions. A glaring question mark — and ultimately, a deficit — on this 2018 FSU staff was Bell. He wasn’t the only problem with the staff, but he stood out because of the up-and-down play of two quarterbacks who had both shown considerable promise in previous seasons under Jimbo Fisher, Deondre Francois and James Blackman.

Taggart has a track record of fixing programs — he completed the fixer-upper plan at Western Kentucky and South Florida. He was in a good position to polish up Oregon in Year 2 had he stayed. He came to Florida State after only one year in Eugene because this was his big chance to coach one of the blueblood programs in college football.

You would think that Taggart is experienced enough to give the offensive keys to an elite offensive coordinator. Instead he turned to Bell, who did not have knockout credentials or soaring accomplishments.

Being young isn’t a problem — look at Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams Coaching chops, however, are revealed or disproved relatively quickly, and very little Bell showed in 2018 pointed to a strong and certain future for Florida State’s offense, especially at quarterback.

Taggart has been given a second chance to get his OC slot right. It is too late for Kliff Kingsbury, but with the coaching carousel in full spin, plenty of attractive choices should be available. No, not anyone who has behaved horribly (think Art Briles or Bobby Petrino) — there can be plenty of good choices removed from that subgroup of talented but tainted individuals.

Taggart knows he has to fix a lot of problems in 2019. This is his Sark Salvation Moment… IF he gets this hire right.

No pressure, Willie. Walt Bell toils for UMass… and hopefully, the bell won’t yet toll for Taggart’s tenure in Tally.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

Florida State Seminoles

FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday

Florida Football Insiders



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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Florida State Seminoles

Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes

Florida Football Insiders



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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