Friday, November 16, 2018
FSU Seminoles

Florida State’s Willie Taggart is about to answer the question, again.

TALLAHASSEE — The 10th head football coach in Florida State history, just the third in the last 42 years, sat munching Gummy bears last Thursday in his office — the office where Bobby Bowden once sat, where Jimbo Fisher sat.

Willie Taggart, the Meteor Man, from here to there in blinks of an eye, Western Kentucky to USF to Oregon and now his dream job in Tallahassee, was talking about the journey and the doubters who wonder even now if Taggart (career record: 47-50) is really the man to FSU back on top.

"I don't think I'd have this job if I cared about all those people who think those things," Taggart said. "… I'm not here if I listen to the whispers. That's pretty much my whole life, not letting people define who you are."

RELATED: More FSU coverage

The man behind the black horn rims thought of his first game at USF, August 2013, just five years ago. Taggart was fresh from rebuilding Western Kentucky, and had his college career ahead of him. And then USF took the field Raymond James Stadium for Taggart's debut. The Bulls were beyond stunned in their season-opener by McNeese State, 53-21.

Taggart smiled.

"I remember you asked that night, 'Do you think this job is too big for you?'" he said.

And here we are again, wondering if Taggart can cut it on one of college football's biggest stages.

Florida State isn't Western Kentucky. Nor is it USF, which Taggart demolished, then rebuilt into a threat behind quarterback Quinton Flowers before handing off to Charlie Strong. Florida State isn't Oregon, where Taggart spent one season, had the planet's best facilities ("It was like the Jetsons."), took the Ducks from 4-8 to 7-6 as his "Gulf Coast Offense" scored 77 points in one game and 69 in another.

"We left USF in a really good place, which USF should be," Taggart said. "And we left Oregon better than we found it."

But this is Florida State, home to three national champions. This is Florida State, all that talent, where you reload instead of rebuild. This is Taggart's task. Today. Right now.

"I don't look at it as pressure," Taggart said. "What's pressure? It's a job and there are expectations. I don't think any expectations will be bigger than mine. … I figured at some point I'd be head football coach at Florida State. I love this school. I'm ready for it all."

The cover of the FSU media guide features Taggart doing the chop and features and one of his favorite sayings, dating back to USF and even before that:

"Do Something."

It's what he tells his players.

"You've worked to get here, now do something."

Taggart, who turned 42 this week, has never wasted time. He has his starting quarterback (Deondre Francois over ) and a meaty schedule, which includes a Labor Day night opener against Virginia Tech at Doak Campbell Stadium. McNeese alert.

Some think Taggart is overrated, a beneficiary of the coaching jet stream. Some think he can't get it done in Tallahassee. I guess success at this point is not putting your Christmas tree out for the trash before Christmas. Godspeed, Jimbo!

I think Taggart can get this done. There is something about him. There has always been something about him, even when he was at USF. That hasn't changed with him as a Seminole, a dream of his all along while growing up in Palmetto, pretending to be Heisman winner Charlie Ward on the 1993 national champions.

"In the neighborhood, I had a little white T-shirt, and with a black Sharpie I drew the number 17 on it," Taggart said.

Ward recently visited FSU practice, as did Deion Sanders. Bobby Bowden has stopped by at Taggart's invite. Bowden, along with former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, will serve as honorary captain at the season-opener. Willie Taggart will serve as FSU head coach.

"Like any coach, you make moves to improve your career," said Taggart, who went from a five-year $16 million deal at Oregon to five years and $30 million in Tallahassee. "I didn't think I'd be leaving Oregon after a year. If this wasn't my dream job, one I always wanted, I wouldn't have left."

Funny, I never knew FSU was Taggart's dream job when he was at USF.

"You never asked," Taggart said with a grin.

"I didn't think this job would come open It was crazy. People told me I can always get that job. Are you kidding me? They've only had two coaches in 40 years."

Here comes No. 3, talking about his offense.

"It's going to be simple, but lethal."

Taggart hadn't even switched over his license plates from Florida to Oregon before returning to the Sunshine State.

"People have been a lot luckier than me," he said. "It took me a while to get here. I had to prove myself over and over, but I appreciate the journey."

Here comes Willie, again.

Welcome back.

Do Something.

Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029

Comments
The end of ‘The Streak’ would be another sorry chapter for Florida State

The end of ‘The Streak’ would be another sorry chapter for Florida State

Florida State's run of 36 consecutive bowl games, which began under Bobby Bowden, might screech to a halt this afternoon under Willie Taggart
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hot seat watch, coaches in contention to move up, Jimbo Fisher flashback and more college football notes

Hot seat watch, coaches in contention to move up, Jimbo Fisher flashback and more college football notes

Yes, Skip Holtz flopped at USF, but he's doing very well at Louisiana Tech...
Published: 11/16/18
Who has been more disappointing: Florida State or Miami?

Who has been more disappointing: Florida State or Miami?

Times columnist Martin Fennelly and writer Matt Baker discuss which former powerhouse has had a worse 2018.
Published: 11/14/18
25 things about No. 1 FSU vs. No. 2 Notre Dame, 25 years later

25 things about No. 1 FSU vs. No. 2 Notre Dame, 25 years later

We rewatched one of the games of the century to see Charlie Ward, Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks, Skip Holtz and O.J. Simpson.
Published: 11/09/18
AP sources: Injured quarterback Ian Book to miss Notre Dame’s game against Florida State

AP sources: Injured quarterback Ian Book to miss Notre Dame’s game against Florida State

No. 3 Notre Dame will start quarterback Brandon Wimbush against Florida State on Saturday for Ian Book, who is nursing an undisclosed injury, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Book is not expected to play after taking a...
Published: 11/08/18
Joe Henderson: Athletic departments need to heed the warnings of dwindling attendance

Joe Henderson: Athletic departments need to heed the warnings of dwindling attendance

UF becomes the latest football program to see a decline at the gate.
Published: 11/06/18
Florida State suspends two players for first half vs. N.C. State

Florida State suspends two players for first half vs. N.C. State

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State will be without leading receiver Nyqwan Murray and reserve linebacker Zaquandre White for the first half of Saturday’s game at North Carolina State. Coach Willie Taggart announced the suspensions on Monday. Murray and Whi...
Updated one month ago
Florida State journal: Mental mistakes, then a meltdown

Florida State journal: Mental mistakes, then a meltdown

TALLAHASSEE — The first quarter against Clemson was scoreless, and early in the second, Florida State held the Tigers to a 40-yard field-goal attempt, which soared wide right.Against the No. 2 team in the nation, a still scoreless game was some...
Updated one month ago
Florida State matches worst margin of defeat in 59-10 loss to No. 2 Clemson

Florida State matches worst margin of defeat in 59-10 loss to No. 2 Clemson

TALLAHASSEE — Big stops from the Florida State defense and early Clemson miscues gave the Seminoles offense plenty of time to get going in the first quarter Saturday. The Seminoles forced the No. 2-ranked Tigers to punt on their first three pos...
Updated one month ago
Ocala couple pledges $20 million for FSU football facility

Ocala couple pledges $20 million for FSU football facility

OCALA — Al and Judy Dunlap have assembled a family compound over the years.There's the lake house, and the farm house, and the main home, all surrounded by horse pastures and guarded by an army of animal statues.Soon enough, the Florida State f...
Updated one month ago