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What’s next for Willie Taggart on the trail?

The 2018 recruiting class wrapped up yesterday and when the ink dried Willie Taggart and the ‘Noles signed the eleventh ranked class in the country. A class that consisted of 61% blue chip recruits, well above the 50% threshold that has been identified as the magic number to have even a remote chance at winning a national title. This article must be prefaced by the fact that the job that Willie Taggart did in saving FSU’s 2018 class, pulling it from the doldrums where it was just several months ago, to eleventh in the country, the highest ranking for a school with a new head coach, is nothing short of highly impressive. That being said if you remove all the outside circumstances that affected this class and simply look at the talent that was signed, it is not good enough to build a roster that could compete with the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, and Clemson to win a national title. That is to say that if FSU signed the 11th ranked recruiting class in four straight cycles, it would have a minuscule chance of winning the College Football Playoff.

Times are changing in college football. The era of the super class has arrived, and era that is going to be defined by a handful of recruiting classes that are simply head and shoulder above the rest. The two best classes in modern recruiting history were signed over the last two classes, Alabama’s 2016 haul and the class that Kirby Smart put together this year, a class with seven five-star recruits in its ranks. Elite talent is beginning to concentrate more and more, building rosters that are more and more impressive and for teams that don’t have similar talent, harder and harder to beat.

The ultimate goal for any coach is to win a National Title and that is a goal that Willie Taggart has personally mentioned as one that he is striving for, as any coach at an elite level program like FSU should. I put together a chart that highlights the recruiting path that the four active coaches to win a title took as they arrived at the schools that they would eventually win a title with. I included Kirby Smart because he seems like the safest bet to be the next head coach to join the national title club. Finally, I included what Willie Taggart has done so far to see how it compares with National Championship winning coaches and Kirby Smart.

 

The biggest takeaway from this data should be that Willie Taggart’s eleventh ranked transition class is serviceable. It’s not going to do any significant damage to his chances of winning a title at Florida State. The other thing to highlight is how much of an outlier Dabo Swinney is, which makes what he’s built and the success he’s had at Clemson even more intriguing and impressive in a certain way. That being said, the blueprint that has been more widely followed, the blueprint created by coaches like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer and then followed by Jimbo Fisher at Florida State is the blueprint of capitalizing in recruiting on the momentum a new coach creates when they bring a breath of fresh air to an elite program and then parlaying that success on the trail to National Championship success on the field

While his first class at FSU will certainly not hurt his chances of winning a title at FSU, there is a substantial chance that Willie Taggart’s next two classes at FSU will go a long way toward defining his tenure at FSU and the chance that he’s ever able to reach the top of the college football mountain in Tallahassee. Based on the paths of coaches to win a national title in the past, Florida State likely needs to sign a top five, if not a top three class next year if it is to compete for a national title during Willie Taggart’s tenure. In the hypercompetitive recruiting environment that is currently present in the southeast, that will certainly be a challenge. However, I am sure that it is a challenge that Taggart and his staff are going to embrace with open arms.

Ethan Vaughan
I am a freshman at Florida State University where I am on course to double major in Entrepreneurship and Finance. I am originally from Plant City, FL and attended high school there. I have been a Florida State fan since I was born. I have a special affinity for FSU Basketball and hope to see the program continue to grow.

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