Let’s start here: If Willie Taggart isn’t gone at Florida State now, he is likely coaching for his job at Boston College. Alabama State will be a victory, so if the Seminoles are going to get to six wins, they have to beat Boston College on the road. They aren’t likely to come particularly close to Florida in The Swamp.
Boston College is the game Taggart must win. Nearly everyone in the room would agree, depending on being able to afford a buyout and then, fire him, this is a must if Taggart is to stay on and get a shot at a 2020 season.
Having established that point, the fact that we are sitting here discussing must-win games against Boston College is enough of a commentary on the state of FSU football under Taggart.
No improvement. No transformation of the culture. No meaningful player development.
No motivational skills, something Taggart used to do well at South Florida and Western Kentucky.
No sense of the occasion, as manifested in a pancake-flat performance against an archrival at home on Saturday.
The Miami Hurricanes blew through the Seminoles 27-10 on Saturday. This was a simple butt-kicking. Miami’s pitiful offense moved the ball well against Florida State’s defense. When Miami’s 2019 offense looks competent and lucid against your defense, you have huge problems.
Miami was far more focused, far more physical, far more alert, far more invested in the outcome of this game. Losing to Miami in a consequential game – with possible bowl eligibility on the line – is bad enough.
Getting curb-stomped by a more motivated opponent? That is a total disaster, possibly one Taggart cannot recover from.
If you were to tell me he is already done, I would say you have a good argument and might easily be right.
And, I am not arguing against firing Willie Taggart right now; I am only offering some more words of caution about taking this particular step.
A program has to be a disaster for a coach to be fired after two seasons. If Taggart reaches a bowl game in 2019 after missing a bowl game in 2018, it would be harder to make that argument. Yet, one could still assemble a case that Florida State is nowhere near where it should be.
Miami has not been good the past two years. Willie Taggart is now, 0-2 against this low-rent version of the Hurricanes.
The non-Clemson portion of the ACC Atlantic has been very weak the past two seasons. Florida State has not come close to finishing second in the division behind Clemson.
The Seminoles finished fifth in the Atlantic last season, and must beat Boston College to avoid finishing fifth again, this season.
Fifth. In the division. Two years in a row.
Yes, Wake Forest will finish ahead of FSU this year, and Louisville is likely to do the same.
Again, the BEST-CASE scenario for Taggart is that he has to beat Boston College.
If he loses in Chestnut Hill, nothing can save him, whether FSU finds the money to do it soon or he’s done next year, at the latest.
Report- Bob Stoops no longer candidate for FSU job
At FSU continues to look for a replacement for Willie Taggart, you can scratch one prominent name off the list.
— Jim Henry (@JimHenryTALLY) November 15, 2019
Reports previously were that Stoops was one of the leading choices to take over the floundering Seminole program, and that Florida State may have already extended a massive offer to him.
However, Stoops, who coached Oklahoma from 1999-2016 and won a BCS National Championship against Florida State in the 2000 Orange Bowl, wants to instead keep his job as coach and general manager of the Dallas Renegades of the reboot of the XFL this February.
Stoops had also refused to deny being interested/linked to the Seminoles job, at a public Q & A for the XFL in Dallas last week.
There is obviously a financial concern for Florida State of not only the buyout that they still owe Taggart, which is believed to be somewhere around $17 million, but the potential buyout of another established coach, plus that coach’s salary for 2020 and beyond.
We wrote earlier this week that current interim coach Odell Haggins could be an excellent short-term solution for a lot of the needs that Florida state has, including financial resources.
Haggins coached the Noles to a dramatic 38 – 31 win in Boston last week over the B..C Eagles, which has now put FSU in position to make a bowl game. They need only one more victory and play FCS Alabama State at noon Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday
It is still believed that Florida State is very interested in Stoops’ younger brother Mark, who is the current coach at Kentucky, and is the former defensive coordinator for four seasons (2009-12) with Jimbo Fisher in Tallahassee.
The Democrat article also mentions that Memphis coach Mike Norvell, Penn State coach James Franklin and Iowa State coach, Matt Campbell, are candidates that FSU will seriously consider.
Argument for keeping Odell Haggins as FSU coach
As FSU enters their second week of trying to solve their coaching vacancy situation, the best immediate solution maybe staring right at them in interim coach, Odell Haggins.
Haggins oversaw Florida State’s dramatic 38-31 win at Boston College Saturday, which coupled with his two victories as interim coach at the end of the 2017 season has already demonstrated, in a small sample, that he has promise as a head coach. FSU will play FCS Alabama State Saturday and will likely win easily and assure themselves of a bowl game, too.
As for the search, there are three important factors in the Seminoles interviewing for the replacement for Willie Taggart.
One, the leadership in Tallahassee needs to bring stability to the program. The departure of Jimbo Fisher to take a more lucrative job in the SEC with Texas A&M and then with the dismal results from Taggart, who had only coached in a Power 5 situation for one year at Oregon, have the Noles in turmoil.
Florida State needs someone who can calm and reassure players, potential recruits, boosters and anyone else, that they’re going to get back to their winning ways. Preferably, someone who’s been there.
Two, FSU has to be concerned in the short-term with recruits “bailing on them” due to the uncertainty the coaching situation. The early signing period is coming in the second week in December. And, Florida State, right now, has one of the top 5 recruiting classes for next year in the country. But that could evaporate over the course of the next 21 days, if they are not reassured.
And finally, what can the Seminoles actually afford? With Taggart’s massive buyout, believed to be $17 million or so and the fact that FSU will have to likely buyout an established head coach for more significant money, and then, pay their salary, money is definitely a concern in the short-term.
So when you analyze Haggins, who’s been an assistant coach or a player at Florida State for 30 years, he is a solid “yes” on all three of those, above.
He would clearly bring stability, as he is Florida State through and through, including being part of Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher’s National Championship staffs/teams.
Two, Haggins has been intimately involved in FSU recruiting for the last two decades. He helped hold the recruiting class together two years ago in December, when Fisher left. And, he has been instrumental in talking to recruits right now during the transition period for the next coach.
And finally, the money concerns could be alleviated, at least on a short-term basis, with hiring Haggins as the coach. He will cost significantly less to promote than the names like Mark Stoops, Mike Norvell, etc. would cost.
FSU could explore even a one or two-year option on a deal with their longtime defensive line assistant, and Haggins would probably be willing to do it for all of the reasons above. This would also be a good short term option in keeping the staff together, like offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, and potentially, elevating Jim Leavitt to defensive coordinator, if they/Haggins would like.
Again, Florida State may be able to land a proven head coach coming up and afford their buyout.
But, if they are not able to do that in short order, Odell Haggins appears to be an excellent option to continue to bring short-term stability and success that’s affordable.
And those are three “wins” that FSU needs right now, too.
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