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FSU fires Taggart; Haggins named interim coach

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Florida State announced that football coach Willie Taggart was fired on Sunday, with president John Thrasher stating that “we had no choice but to make a change.”

FSU athletics director David Coburn has named Odell Haggins as the interim head coach for the remainder of the 2019 season. Haggins went 2-0 as FSU’s interim head coach in 2017 after Jimbo Fisher resigned to take the Texas A&M job.

Taggart went 0-5 against Miami, Florida and Clemson, including four losses by double digits. He was also 6-9 against the ACC and 9-12 overall.

“I spoke to Coach Taggart this afternoon to let him know of our decision,” Coburn said in a statement on Sunday. “I met with the team and coaches immediately after that conversation to let them know of the change. It was very important to us that the student-athletes know right away.”

Some parents of players found out through social media, one parent told the Osceola.

Taggart has a $17 million buyout on the remainder of his letter of agreement, which runs through Jan. 31, 2024. An official contract for Taggart had never been provided to the media through public records requests. The structure of his buyout is not immediately known.

“Obviously, I am disappointed in the decision today as I believe our future is bright at Florida State,” Taggart posted on Twitter. “Building a program and a culture takes time, and I regret that we will not have the opportunity to continue to coach these incredible young men. … I want to thank the Florida State faithful for their support as we worked towards building a program that they could be proud of. On behalf of my family and I, we wish Florida State nothing but the best and will be cheering on the Seminoles the rest of the way.”

Attendance at FSU home games had dwindled. The crowd for Saturday’s home game against Miami was a season-high 63,995, but that means more than 15,000 seats were empty for the biggest home game on the 2019 schedule.

Lagging ticket sales as well as lost booster contributions, despite the sizable buyout, were likely determining factors.

“I think very highly of Coach Taggart and wish him well, but in the interest of the university we had no choice but to make a change,” Thrasher said in a statement.  “We will support our student-athletes in every way and do all we can to return to the winning tradition that is Seminole football.”

TheOsceola.com will have more throughout Sunday. Coburn is expected to address the media on Monday.

Comments

  1. Steve Morcom Reply

    Bryan Harsin, 59-16, 1.35 million

  2. Jarad Moon Reply

    As a coach’s son (and former son-in-law, for that matter) I’m in the camp of giving Taggart enough runway to develop. I was thinking three years would do it, or a fourth if there were visible improvements being made. I realize there were a number of off-field dysfunctions that were left unattended too by the previous regime.

    That said, the improvements that were taking place, while valuable and needed, did not seem to translate consistently to the field. That word “consistent” seemed to be the opposite of what was being presented on Saturday’s. Unfortunately what has been very consistent are unsportsmanlike penalties, procedure penalties, not putting 11 men on the field in special teams, and the biggest personal heart breaker of all… the inability of the offensive line to gel into anything close to reasonably acceptable.

    I understand weekly ticket sales factor into this decision and it is tough when your opponents are broadcast on TV wearing “Keep Taggart” shirts, and former rival head coaches are making statements like, “Coach Taggart is my favorite coach, I think FSU should give him a 10-year extension.”

    Attendance also becomes a glaring issue when your student section (filled by free tickets given to students for a Saturday afternoon game at their university) is not filled. What else are college kids doing on a Saturday afternoon for free in a college town? Wow.

    An article came out two weeks ago looking at college football towns and the local price gouging of hotels. TALLAHASSEE is one of the worst in the country and this is a major contributing factor in decreased attendance as well.

    We came to town for the 1999, 20-year championship reunion festivities. We almost did not come because of hotel pricing. We stayed at the suggested hotel with “better” group rate pricing that was discounted to only cost us $400-$500 per night with a two night minimum?! The better price? When the hotel alone is right at $1,000, attending the games is not a ticket price issue. With travel, tickets, food and hotel, if a six or seven game home season is costing the average person $10,000+ for general admission seating, attendance will sag even in the best of times. Many of our teammates did not attend the championship reunion due to hotel price gouging.

    I liked Taggart, and I liked the vision he had for FSU. It just didn’t seem to materialize as obviously as the sacks, penalties and attendance issues. In partial defense of Taggart, and to make a plea to the powers that be to give the next guy that aforementioned 3-4 years legitimate run-time; Tho offensive line has been poor as long as recent memory, the shamble of an academic situation that was inherited forced the retention of guys that slow a new culture of discipline, and the local hotels are also contributing to dropping attendance.

    We cannot expect the next guy to fix these three issues in a season either. I am not saying letting Taggart go was the wrong choice. I am saying please don’t turn us into Alabama of the 90’s.

    • Jerry Kutz Reply

      Jarad,
      Good to see you at the 1999 team reunion. What a great team you all still are.
      The loss of nearly 100 pounds looks great off you. Your approach to weight loss, “Step, Eat, Repeat” is obviously working and seems very duplicatable. Did I just write ad copy for you?
      Maybe you should share your health plan with our current linemen.

      I happen to agree with you about patience. I know there was some progress off the field but like you said it wasn’t translating onto the field as quickly as our fans needed it to. Unfortunately, when the fans lose hope — and tens of millions of dollars in ticket and Booster revenue leaves with them — the AD has few options.
      The next head coach will also have a very difficult task that will take time and patience from the fan base. I think he will need to show quick fixes to the issues you pointed to in order to buy time with our fan base who are begging to see those problems fixed.
      You and I know there are a coaches who can accomplish that task and you know what it will take.
      Thanks for subscribing and for participating. I love it that our former players and coaches are actively involved sharing their insights.
      Jerry

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