When Jimbo Fisher left Florida State for Texas A&M in 2017 he was in the midst of his worst season at the helm of the team in his eight years.
The perennial ACC power had dipped to 5-6 when Fisher left, and won its final two games, including the bowl game, under the guidance of interim Odell Haggins. That offseason they hired Willie Taggart away from Oregon, formerly the head coach of USF having a successful run in Tampa. The hope was he could bring some much needed new life to the Noles, but most objective observers recognized he would need a little time given he was going to try some different things than Fisher.
On Sunday, Taggart was fired, less than two full seasons into his tenure after a 27-10 loss at home to their in-state rivals, Miami. Florida State is 4-5 on the season after a 5-7 campaign that saw them miss a bowl game.
Florida State has fired Willie Taggart. "We had no choice," FSU President John Thrasher said.
Odell Haggins will take over.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 3, 2019
Here's the FSU statement re: firing Willie Taggart: pic.twitter.com/5hIXyTK8kg
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) November 3, 2019
It was a fairly stunning decision given how brief his stint in Tallahassee was and how most thought he would need at least a couple years to get the program formed in his image. College coaches typically get to their third year before the hot seat really warms, up, but at Florida State patience runs shorter than most places it appears.
Taggart’s time at Florida State certainly hasn’t been very good and the results haven’t been what were hoped, but one can’t help but wonder if he’s falling victim to the much shorter leash given to black head coaches in these sorts of spots in that he was fired so quickly. The “we had no choice” quote from the president of the university indicates that there were some important boosters who were not pleased with Taggart and must have made it clear that he needed to go, immediately.
The question now is what’s next for Florida State (and Taggart). He should find his way to a new job sooner than later, either as a coordinator at a big school or back as head coach for a group of five program somewhere. The expectation in Tallahassee is clear, and while Haggins will take over once again on an interim basis, the next coach better figure out a way to turn things around quickly or else they’ll meet a similar fate as Taggart.