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Take Two: Will Taggart get a chance to rebuild FSU?

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position


Willie Taggart
Willie Taggart (AP Images)

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling an issue in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

MORE TAKE TWO: Should Michigan fans be concerned? | Is Notre Dame really one of the best teams in college football?

THE STORYLINE  

Florida State coach Willie Taggart is expected to meet with each player and coach soon to evaluate the mess that was the 2018 season, and according to media reports he’s going to also consider the “buy-in” to the program of everyone on the team.

The Seminoles are coming off their first losing season since 1976 - also the last time they only won five games - and Florida State has not had at least seven losses since the 1975 campaign, when it had eight defeats.

The past two years have been a disaster. Last season, coach Jimbo Fisher largely did not seem all that interested as the team flailed to a 7-6 record. He jetted out of town for Texas A&M and Florida State went searching for a new coach.

Taggart, who went 7-5 in one season at Oregon, left Eugene quickly for Tallahassee, and here we are. For his rebuilding efforts to some extent at Western Kentucky, but especially at South Florida, Taggart is still only 52-57 as a head coach. In nine seasons as a head coach, Taggart has four losing ones.

This team might have had a bad culture from the Fisher days, but it certainly was not void of talent. Two five-star running backs in Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick were largely disappointing, mainly because the offensive line was so bad. Quarterback Deondre Francois threw 15 touchdowns, but also 12 interceptions. FSU averaged only 21.9 points per game. The Seminoles regularly got blown out against good opponents.

Can Taggart weather this storm or is he already on the hot seat after a miserable season?

FIRST TAKE: IRA SCHOFFEL, WARCHANT.COM  

“There's definitely some concern from the fan base. How could there not be? Even if you understand the fact that Fisher left this program in bad shape -- both in terms of culture and also the personnel at a couple of positions, such as offensive line and linebacker -- there was no excuse for some of this team's problems. So this will be a very important offseason for Taggart. Fans will be watching every move he makes with his roster and his coaching staff, hoping to see signs that he will be able to turn this program around the way he did USF and Western Kentucky.

“As far as the administration goes, they've expressed confidence that they hired the right coach for the job. But the 2019 season will be very interesting. Like at many college programs, season tickets are harder to sell than in the old days, and losing 13 games over the last two years isn't going to help. So FSU can't afford to be down for very long. At the same time, the Seminoles can't be dropping $15 or $20 million to make a head coach go away, the way some richer schools can. The bottom line is FSU needs Taggart to win, and win soon.”

SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM  

“They’ll give him time. This was a horrible season, and the team didn’t play together. I don’t know if that was a hangover from Jimbo’s last year or if there’s not enough talent on this football team for Taggart to compete.

“I would think it’s not talent. Right now, it’s chemistry and there are certain positions that need addressing, such as the offensive line. They will give him three or four years. He’s not on the hot seat, but he’s definitely under pressure. They’re not going to accept another season without a bowl game there. If he does have another season with a losing record, then we could see a lot of panic on behalf of Florida State, and then perhaps he would be on the hot seat at that point.”