‘Noles turn to Haggins to steady the team

Odell Haggins played at Florida State and has been an assistant at his alma mater since 1994.

Through thick and thin. He’s won two national titles. And coached under Bobby Bowden, Jimbo Fisher and Willie Taggart.

Now Haggins is the interim head coach – again.

A fan favorite who is cheered everywhere he goes, Haggins will coach the Seminoles’ final three regular-season games. FSU (4-5) travels to Boston College on Saturday at noon looking for a win to all-but-secure bowl-eligibility with FCS Alabama State the following week.

“If you were going to cut Odell you would see garnet and gold come out of him,” former FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews told the Osceola in 2017.

It was a stunning week in 2017 when Haggins took over after Fisher’s flirtations with Texas A&M intensified and later led to his resignation to move on to the SEC school. Haggins stepped in and solidified the team, helping guide them to a win over ULM to clinch a 6-6 regular season. FSU later defeated Southern Miss in the bowl game, allowing Haggins to be referred to famously as “2-Odell.”

He returned as defensive tackles coach under Taggart in 2018 and then took on the entire defensive line in 2019. Haggins was tasked with helping FSU’s linemen convert from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in preseason camp.

While he has not spoken to the media since August, something Haggins will do on Monday at noon, the fire within the longtime Seminole hasn’t diminished. He spoke months ago about grooming the young linemen for the season ahead.

“They have never been coached this hard, they have never been pushed this hard,” Haggins said. “And they’re starting to understand – the standard at Florida State, it’s the standard. There’s one way to do it. Do it the right way, do it full speed and be dominant.”

The 52-year-old Haggins has developed a long list of successful FSU defensive linemen, including Corey Smith, Jerry Johnson, Darnell Dockett, Travis Johnson, Brodrick Bunkley, Timmy Jernigan, Eddie Goldman and Derrick Nnnadi.

Haggins began his coaching career as FSU’s tight ends and offensive line coach in 1994-95 before taking over as the defensive tackles coach in ’96 (he added associate head coach to his title in 2014).

“I had many opportunities to leave but I really thought about it and I said, ‘This is my university,’ ” Haggins told the Osceola in 2013. “I really thought about a lot of stuff when I had different job offers and I said, ‘No, I want Florida State to be great and keep it great.’ Because I bleed garnet and gold.”