FSU terminates Taggart after 27-10 setback

Special to the Outlook

Florida State Director of Athletics David Coburn announced last Sunday that coach Willie Taggart’s contract has been terminated effective immediately.

Odell Haggins, who is in his 26th season on FSU’s coaching staff, will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Haggins served in the same capacity for the Seminoles’ final two games of the 2017 season following the departure of Jimbo Fisher.

Haggins has a 2-0 record as interim coach.

Odell Haggins will coach the Seminoles for the second time in less than three seasons.
Photo special to the Outlook

“I spoke to Coach Taggart this afternoon to let him know of our decision,” said Coburn.  “I met with the team and coaches immediately after that conversation to let them know of the change.  It was very important to us that the student-athletes know right away.”

Taggart’s firing came less than 24 hours after the Seminoles lost 27-10 to the University of Miami.

“I think very highly of Coach Taggart and wish him well, but in the interest of the university we had no choice but to make a change,” said Florida State University President John Thrasher.  “We will support our student-athletes in every way and do all we can to return to the winning tradition that is Seminole football.”

“We deeply appreciate all that Coach Taggart has done for our program and wish him and his family nothing but the best,” added Coburn.

Coburn confirmed that Florida State would immediately engage in a national search to fill the position.

Taggart Tweeted his response to being terminated, saying that he was disappointed in the decision. He went on to thank his assistant coaches and players.

Following the game last Saturday,  there were a few moments  — right around when Cam Akers scored a touchdown that cut Florida State’s deficit to seven, and then when the FSU defense got a quick stop its next time out — that the Seminoles seemed destined for a memorable rally.

One that would’ve dealt the Miami Hurricanes the same type of heartache they handed the Seminoles a year ago. And, more importantly, one that might have sparked FSU toward a strong finish to the regular season.

It didn’t happen.

Florida State cut a 14-point deficit to seven early in the third quarter but could get no closer. Miami’s Jarren Williams then made the result official with a 56-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter that helped the Hurricanes to a 27-10 victory in front of 63,995 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The Seminoles (4-5, 3-4 ACC) will look to get back on track in next week’s conference finale at Boston College (noon, ACC Network). The Hurricanes (5-4, 3-3), winners of three straight over FSU for the first time since 2000-2004, host Louisville.

“Of course, we’re frustrated with the loss,” Taggart said. “To be honest with you, words aren’t going to make it better right now.”
Paced by first-half passing plays of 42, 39 and 34 yards, the Hurricanes built a 17-3 lead at halftime. The Seminoles answered with a six-play, 62-yard drive that ended in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Alex Hornibrook to Akers, but otherwise couldn’t get much going against Miami’s defensive front.

Akers managed just 66 rushing yards on 22 carries, while Hornibrook, starting for the second consecutive game, completed 17-of-24 passes for 135 yards. He was sacked eight times, and the Hurricanes finished the contest with nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss.

“I mean, it was every play back there – the quarterback not having time to get rid of the ball,” Taggart said. “That’s very disappointing. Didn’t think that was going to happen. We knew they had a good D-line and good defense but didn’t think that would happen to us.”

“If you’re getting dominated up front, there are not a lot of things that work,” Miami coach Manny Diaz added. “Obviously we were winning that battle up front.”

As a result, the Seminoles were outgained 353-203 and managed just 2.9 yards per play.

And that despite holding Miami to only 40 yards rushing yards and 1.7 yards per carry – by far the lowest for an FSU opponent this season.

The Hurricanes, however, more than made up for it in the passing game, where they picked on a pair of freshmen defensive backs early and then took advantage of a missed assignment later in the game.

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