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.