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Clock off and ticking on Florida State’s Willie Taggart

Fennelly: The epic fold against Boise State has the Seminoles off and losing. #DoSomething indeed.
Florida State Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart during the game against Boise State. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Florida State Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart during the game against Boise State. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Aug. 31, 2019
Updated Sep. 1, 2019

TALLAHASSEE — They’re off and losing again in Tallahassee.

Steamboat Willie Taggart is already on the rocks.

I don’t think there is any way off them.

There are roughly 17 million reasons why the second-year Florida State coach won’t lose his job, one for each dollar it would cost FSU to buy him out. But start the bake sales. A new season just dawned and died with an epic opening-day fold.

There already might be no way back from this instantly 0-1 season, not for Florida State and certainly not for its head coach and his fading turnaround artistry, not after Choke at Doak: The Sequel, a ghastly 36-31 loss Saturday to Boise State.

A small crowd, announced at 50,917, was due in part to the sweltering noon heat but also the game being moved to Tallahassee from Jacksonville because of Hurricane Dorian. Next weekend’s sparse turnout for Louisiana-Monroe will be entirely man-made by Taggart and his miserable team. The last of the believers might have just gone over the hill.

“We’re going to get out of this. I promise,” Taggart said.

That tank already seems empty.

Look, nobody goes into Doak Campbell Stadium and beats Boise State. That’s a given. But to lose from ahead, to blow a pair of 18-point leads, to get shredded by a true freshman Boise quarterback (what, no high school seniors were available?) for 407 yards passing and 621 yards of offense, this is more than the heartiest Seminoles fan can take. It has people’s heads spinning, looking for a way out.

“Can’t we just call him? I mean, Coach Bowden is 89, but it’s a young 89, right?”

Or even worse:

“You know, Urban isn’t that bad a guy.”

If I was Taggart, I’d buy my Christmas tree now in order to put it out for the trash early, like Jimbo Fisher before him.

This is recycled Season 1 garbage.

You would not have known it by the first half. It was a brand new season, forget about last year’s dreary opening 24-3 loss to Virginia Tech here that launched Taggart’s 5-7 debut and ended FSU’s 36-year postseason streak.

Yes, all that was a distant memory as the Seminoles raced to a 24-6 lead. Cam Akers scored on a 38-yard run on fourth down. James Blackman hit Tamorrion Terry on a short pass, and Terry turned it into a 75-yard score. FSU’s offense was five plays into its season and had 14 points. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles looked like the smartest offseason hire from a sleazy coach/father program in recent history. Way to go, Willie!

Then came the egg laying. FSU had 68 yards of offense after halftime. Blackman was sacked on third down. Twice. Then that final drive. Briles ran Akers on a belly play on third and 5. For 1 yard. Lovely. Blackman then threw for a first down, but a holding penalty made it fourth and 13. Blackman ran wildly, for his life, but was short of the first down.

End of hope. End of game.

What a disaster already.

"Stick with us,” was Taggart’s postgame message to fans.

That will go over great in the lifeboats.

Taggart’s career record: 52-58.

This already felt like last season as Boise State finished. By the way, isn’t the team from Idaho the one that’s supposed to wear down in suffocating 85-degree weather?

Instead, FSU had nothing left as Boise stormed back from down 31-13 late in the second quarter. The Seminoles made too many mistakes and displayed little discipline as the Broncos scored the last 23 points of the afternoon. That goes straight to coaching. Taggart had no answers either.

Will he ever?

It doesn’t feel like it.

It’s not the heat, it’s the humiliation.

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


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