Taggart gets emotional over ‘dream job’ at FSU
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
During his introduction as the new head football coach at FSU, Willie Taggart could hardly control his emotions.
He laughed when he described coaching at FSU as being his “dream job.”
He had his audience at theUniversity Club in stitches when he talked about how he grew up as a diehard Seminoles fan and said, “I’m in hogs’ heaven now.”
He even shed some tears when he mentioned the most profound moment when he and his wife, Taneshia, were discussing his decision to leave Oregon.
The moment of confirmation to leave the Ducks after one season came when his 16-year-old son, Willie, walked into the room where Taggart and his wife were discussing the move. Will offered some advice that sealed the deal.
Tears welled in his eyes as he recalled the conversation.
“He said, ‘Dad, I know you’re struggling with this decision and I know this is your dream job. You always told me to chase my dream and don’t let anyone get in the way of it. I don’t think it’s right for me or anyone else to stop you from chasing your dream.”
Taggart, who said he took heed when he heard former FSU coach Bobby Bowden passionately talk about how important God and family are to his success, is indeed a family man himself.
He walked over to his mother, Gloria, and gave her a tight hug before taking his place on the stage. Later he mentioned his father, John, who died in August.
“I feel like I’m here now because of my dad,” he said. “This was like the perfect fit for me. You don’t always get the perfect fit and the right things that you want.”
He promised to deliver all that fans want from the Seminoles. No one in the room doubted him. At least not FSU president John Thrasher.
“I’m very proud of what we have,” Thrasher said. “Very proud.”
Taggart said he wasn’t good enough to play for FSU because he didn’t get a scholarship coming out of Manatee High School. He played quarterback at Western Kentucky instead and now FSU is paying him $30 million over six years to be the one who sets the football roster.
FSU fans have been expressing overwhelming support for Taggart, who put emphasis on three values he want in his players – making grades, being the best person they could be and playing a style of football that he called “lethal simplicity.”
Taggart is also being applauded for the character building he plans to do in the program.
“Coach Taggart will be very successful at FSU,” said Rev. R.B. Holmes, publisher of the Capital Outlook. “He is highly professional, extremely articulate. He is a gifted coach, a family man and he has great character.
“The hiring of Willie Taggart as the new head coach at Florida State University was historic, huge and heartwarming. FSU got this right when they targeted coach Taggart as their first choice and they nailed it.”
While recruiting is high on his priority list, Taggart said he will use the Independence Bowl to evaluate the current assistant coaches and players.
His plan moving forward is simply “work, work, work,” Taggart said. “We’ve got to make sure that this time next year that we are not on the outside looking in when it comes to the ACC championship and the college football playoffs.”
Taking over a program as established as FSU is an opportunity to do some realignment; not rebuilding, he said.
“I’m excited about the challenges in front of us,” he said, “bringing a group of people together for the same common cause.”