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Who would you rather be right now: Willie Taggart or Charlie Strong?

Martin Fennelly: Deciding whose shoes you would prefer to walk in, the Florida State or USF head coach, is a pick-’em at the moment.
Florida State coach Willie Taggart, left, and USF coach Charlie Strong, right, have gotten off to horrible starts this season. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Florida State coach Willie Taggart, left, and USF coach Charlie Strong, right, have gotten off to horrible starts this season. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 6, 2019
Updated Sep. 6, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG – Who would you rather be?

Charlie or Willie?

Willie or Charlie?

Here at the corner General and Panic, it’s never too early to wonder what, exactly, FSU and USF were thinking when they began their college football seasons last weekend.

That especially goes for the green and gold dust twins, former Bulls coach, current FSU coach Willie Taggart and Bulls coach Charlie Strong. They’re both 0-1.

MORE FSU: Remember the ‘Jimbo! New coaches!’ fan? He’s still frustrated

Who would you rather be right now?

FSU is coming off a season-opening loss for the second time in as many Taggart seasons in Tallahassee. This one included a pair of blown 18-point leads as Boise State rallied to beat the Seminoles. When last seen and heard, Taggart was backpedaling on his earlier comments that dehydration affected in the opener, a good thing considering THEY WERE THE ONES FROM FLORIDA.

At least it was close, which is more than we can say about Strong and USF’s thundering, embarrassing 49-0 loss to visiting Wisconsin, which could have scored more but called off its Badgers. New USF offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell had not taken it on the chin like this in a season-opener since he quarterbacked for Florida and Miami buried him and his Heisman run 31-4 at the Orange Bowl.

So, who would you rather be right now, Willie or Charlie?

Both are feeling well deserved heat as FSU gets ready to play Louisiana-Monroe and USF visits Georgia Tech. It’s not scorching heat, but it’s there.

Taggart went 5-7 last season as FSU’s forever bowl streak ended. Strong and USF lost their last six games last season to finish 7-6. The loss streak is now seven.

Quarterback James Blackman (1) leaves the field after Florida State's 36-31 home loss to Boise State on Aug. 31. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]

Who would you rather be?

Let’s start by saying being either one would be a pretty good deal. Taggart and Strong make loads of money (Willie roughly twice as much Charlie) and have nice houses and neither of their cash-strapped athletic departments would want to pony up a buyout unless necessary.

But I’d rather be Willie. His buyout is bigger, roughly $17 million.

Yes, I’d rather be Willie. FSU has more talent and better facilities than USF and will for the foreseeable future. FSU still gets players. It’s what they’re doing with them that’s the problem.

No, I’d rather be Charlie. He has a built-in excuse even after Wisconsin, though I would high advise USF to not lose to Tech this weekend. All things being equal, it would take a lot more losing for Strong to be in real jeopardy. There will not be marches on athletic director Michael Kelly’s office. Who would go? USF can’t even get people to got to games.

No, I’d rather be Willie. FSU still has all the built-in advantages that USF doesn’t have, from conference alignment and payout to facilities to history, including those three national championships.

No, I’d rather be Charlie. Taggart has to live up to the expectations and the pressure will mount if a second consecutive losing season looms. How many games on FSU’s schedule are locks for wins besides Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama State in November?

MORE USF: Strong stands by Blake Barnett

Yes, I’d rather be Charlie. I think he would have to go 3-9 or something to truly be in trouble. A coaching search would not be what USF wants. It got lucky once hiring a name, getting Strong on the rebound from his flop at Texas. That wouldn’t happen again.

Wait, I’d rather be Willie. Taggart has turned things around before at other schools, including USF. He just has put his head down and stay the course. And remember that buyout.

Wait, I’d rather be Charlie. If he can piece together seven or eight wins after this messy start, he survives. If he somehow wins a conference title, they’ll build statues to him.

Meanwhile, Taggart might be in danger of losing his dream job. For Charlie, failure would be like falling off a log. For Willie, it would be like falling off a cliff.

That’s it. I’d rather be Charlie. After all, he went 10-2 in his first season at USF. True, it was with a lot of players Taggart had brought to USF …

Oh, forget it.

I see an FSU-USF matchup in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl’s immediate future. That’s if FSU is bowl eligible and USF plays in it again.

Charlie or Willie?

Willie or Charlie?

We might be asking that all season long. And we mean long.

Contact Martin Fennelly at or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly


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