The Great Willie Taggart Debate

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

Doak Campbell Stadium in 2018 was a factory of sadness. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We all know what happened so I’m not going to dig too deep into the actual timeline of the wheels falling off just now. But instead, I want to talk about the great schism that is emerging before our eyes that’s been slicing through the garnet and gold nation dividing everyone in sight. It seems to me that there are now two main schools of thought amongst the FSU fanbase following that scorching dumpster fire season we all just witnessed. There’s the “Willie Taggart isn’t the answer” crowd who says he’s already proved his incompetence, and then there’s the “trust the process” folks, who testify that he’s going to right the ship. Both sides are making fair points, but they can’t manage to see eye to eye at the end of the day. So I thought it would be a good idea to make a case for both and let you, the reader, decide. Is Willie Taggart’s tenure in Tallahassee destined for perpetual mediocrity? Or does the head man really have championships in his future?

Here’s what I would say if I had to build a case for both sides. (Note: my true opinion is somewhere in the meaty part of the bell-shaped curve, so go easy on me in those comments.)

Get him out of here:

Other than tugging on your heart strings and being a likable guy you want to root for, what has he done at all to make you think he’s actually fit to be a head coach at an elite program? Willie Taggart came into his first season as head ball coach at Florida State University with more fanfare than we ever could have imagined. But all of that “rah rah” produced no results to speak of. The team was dismantled by every halfway decent opponent on its schedule and once again was out of the national playoff race conversation from the very first week. This all comes after an offseason that had seemingly everyone buying in. We were wide-eyed and naive to succumb to the intoxicating fantasy that a lifelong Nole-Blooded FSU die hard was going to step right in and be the savior this program so desperately needed. We so badly wanted to believe that we didn’t need Jimbo that we were willing to ignore giant red flags on his resume. His 47-50 overall record was unimpressive. His lack of a single bowl win should have raised eyebrows.

You could even make an argument that former USF standout QB, Quinton Flowers is the only reason his name was even in the conversation for this job. But we gave him the benefit of the doubt because he has a reputation for leaving places better than they were when he arrived. Well, that benefit of the doubt has now dried up. Coach Taggart took a dumpster fire and dowsed it in gasoline. Florida State finished dead last in penalties in the nation. They looked consistently confused and unprepared. The offense was stale and predictable while the defense got the hell kicked out of it; not because they didn’t have dudes, but because they shot themselves in the foot at every turn. The coaching on this 2018 team was so inexcusably poor it actually came to a climax last week when a University of Florida defensive back had to tell the FSU sideline that they only had ten men on the field. Embarrassing. The roster wasn’t great, but the coaching was undeniably horrendous.

We all bought into the romantic notion that this homegrown Florida boy was going to come in and save the day by making everything fun again. “Yay! They’re dancing at practice!” “Oh Sweet! They’re wearing alternate uniforms and hanging out with rappers!” “Woah! Look at that cool red backpack!” “Everyone is smiling again, guys!” You know who doesn’t do those silly things? Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Urban Meyer, guys who win football games.

But the main reason we need to jump ship, and jump ship now is that if FSU starts getting consistently out recruited by the other big two programs in the state, which they will if they keep losing, well that’s how you find yourself staring at another lost decade.

He needs time:

Out of 836 eligible offensive linemen in the country, the ones who wore the spear on their helmet this season ranked 836 (That’s dead last, for those of you keeping score at home.) 835 (Yikes.), 827 (Ah jeez.), 791 (Okay I see where this is going.), 750, 547, 542, and 429. Their best performer didn’t even rank in the top HALF of all FBS players in the country at his position! There is just simply no conceivable way that anyone could construct an efficient offense if your guys up front are just going to get mauled on every play. No disrespect to the players, either. It isn’t all their fault. Jimbo Fisher had one foot out the door and got lackadaisical with recruiting while Rick Trickett, quite frankly, overstayed his welcome as the O-line coach. You can’t put the lack of talent on Coach Taggart.

You also can’t say that their record would have necessarily been any better this year under a different coach. Look, we knew that Miami and Florida were coming. You can only keep monster programs like that down for so long before they figure it out and get their swagger back. College football has always been cyclical. We knew that any team running a new scheme for the first time ever in an opening game would struggle against Bud Foster’s defense at Virginia Tech. We knew the linebacking corps was thin and underdeveloped. Clemson was expected to be a juggernaut. It was no secret that Notre Dame would have smacked the Noles either way. And we were all well aware of the lack of alpha male leadership in that locker room. The writing was on the wall before Coach T even got to campus. Unfortunately for him though, a captain must go down with his ship, even if there was already a gaping iceberg hole that he had nothing to do with.

Has he maybe lost a year of leeway? Sure. If 2019 looks like this and 2020 doesn’t show any signs of change on the horizon, maybe then we can have this conversation. But the undeniable fact of the matter is that every single program he’s been the head coach of has shown terrific improvement under his leadership. Even Oregon, where he was only the coach for a year showed growth. They went from 4-8 to 7-6 while BYE THE WAY, Justin Herbert, the QB who may go number one overall in this year’s NFL draft sat on their sidelines with an injury! Taggart is going to make his adjustments and the sun will shine again on this program. It’s all there, you just need to give him time.


If Willie Taggart has proved anything as a college football coach it’s that he’s a bonafide rebuild artist. We also know that he’s been a masterful recruiter, seeking out guys who not only have the talent, but also the passionate hunger for success that breeds champions. Was the 2018 team undisciplined and poorly coached? You betcha. Will that change when he has a year or two to get guys in here that fit and believe in his system? Most certainly. Is Willie Taggart the next coach who will lift the national championship trophy at FSU? Well, that’s the million dollar question, the answer to which remains unseen. And it’s a question that we all need to ask ourselves. Because if the goal isn’t always to win a championship every single year then we all may as well just stay home.

Leave a Reply