Willie Taggart has been unceremoniously dismissed from the HC chair at Florida State, and it’s interesting to look back and wonder if the university should have seen the inevitable coming.
For a start, Taggart didn’t remain at Oregon long enough to show that he could engineer long-term success with a Power-5 program. The former Duck skipper departed Eugene in such cliché “bolt for Benjamins” fashion that it would be redundant to go back over the details since the faces change but the story doesn’t. Coach gets asked about pricey sign-away rumors swirling around his name, coach gets indignant with the reporters and pretends that nothing is going on while carefully avoiding direct denials, coach then leaves in a hurry prior to bowl season, marooning his now-former squad with an interim coach for its final game.
FSU got its man, by hook or crook. And then Taggart’s team croaked, or at least choked. 2018 was a disappointment as the Seminoles finished 5-7 after nearly losing 5 straight to end the campaign. It was a rebuilding year – it was the injuries – the penalties – whatever excuse fans wanted to make. But after another dreadful slump in the middle of the 2019 season that culminated in a 17-point loss to rival Miami, the same supporters (and boosters) were calling for Taggart’s removal no matter how much cash a buyout would cost.
How to handicap the 1st Taggart-less FSU contest since 2017? Well, on 1 hand it’s unlikely that an offense which has scored more than 20 points in a game only once since September could go on the road and whip Saturday’s hosts at Boston College, especially considering the Eagles are a solid 5-4 and 6-3 ATS.
On the other hand, student-athletes often enjoy a brief “jailbreak” surge of production once a controversial head coach is gone, just as NFL teams do.
The combination of 2 factors – poor Seminole efforts in October + a potential “healing” day for a motivated squad vs BC – has Las Vegas handicapping Saturday’s clash almost right down the middle.
Who: Florida State Seminoles at Boston College Eagles
When: Saturday, November 9th, 12 PM EST
Where: Alumni Stadium, Boston, MA
Lines: FSU (+2.5) at BC (-2.5) / O/U Total: (62)
Perhaps the betting lines are stuck in an equilibrium thanks to good and bad prospects for the Florida State Seminoles, but you’ve got to look at how the hosts have been playing too.
There may not be much that can be gleaned from BC’s blow-out loss to Clemson on 10/26. Somehow the Tigers are not ranked in the top 3 despite winning the College Football Playoff in 2018-19 and going 9-0 with a bunch of blow-out wins in the current campaign. Dabo Swinney’s team sure looked like a champion while holding BC quarterback Dennis Grosel to 3 completions on 14 attempts and limiting A.J. Dillon to 76 rushing yards.
By the same token, it would be a High School reporter’s mistake to declare the Eagles “rejuvenated” after a big win over Syracuse in Week 10. (Typical prep football lede: “The team lost to Ringer Prep 60-0, bounced back with a 55-0 win over Little Sisters of the Poor, then fell back into a slump with a loss to Obviously Recruiting High School.”) The Orangemen are 3-6 and not having the season that a lot of upstate New Yorkers had hoped for. It’s significant, however, that Grosel (despite passing for 3 scores) was only given 10 pass attempts vs a flagging Syracuse D.
BC is 2-2 against comparable-to-FSU league rivals Wake Forest, NC State, VT and Louisville.
Florida State has a pretty good defense which hasn’t been giving up a ton of points even while controversy and rumors swirled around the coach’s chair. The main question headed into Saturday is whether Taggart’s absence will help Alex Hornibrook and an offense line which is struggling to pass-block (Miami’s Gregory Rousseau demolished the edge with 4 sacks) to relax and find some kind of rhythm on the road.
There will be no drawn-out “interim” HC reign in Tallahassee. Plans are to potentially bring-in a new skipper before the season ends, with Bob Stoops as a #1 target:
According to three separate sources, Bob Stoops could become the next head coach of Florida State football in the near future.
We’ve heard from sources connected with the Seminole Booster Club, Florida State Athletic Department and a local high school recruit that an announcement could come as early as the end of this week or early next week, and that a deal is really close to being done. Along with Stoops taking over as head coach, the source inside the athletic department said that Kendal Briles will remain on staff as offensive coordinator, while Jim Leavitt would be retained as defensive coordinator.
Players will work hard in their “audition” for a legendary coach, but it may affect FSU’s production on special teams and defense more than on offense.
Each team should greet the gridiron with a lot of energy, but BC’s offense is limited and FSU’s offensive line won’t learn how to pass block in 1 week…especially without a full coaching staff to guide it.
The Under (62) is a terrific wager.