By now, you know the play. The Atlantic Coast Conference referees missed not only a call, but a chance to rectify that error, a miscue that likely cost Florida State a road win against Miami in the two rivals’ last meeting.
But there’s a pesky thing about the past. Until we finally figure out the flux capacitor, it’ll remain that way: the past. And as in the high cinema of the 1980s, so in college football.
The present state of Seminole football is evidence of that point. Did the ’Noles get jobbed on a forward-pass penalty against the Hurricanes? Yes. Would FSU have won the game had the resulting touchdown stood? Probably, yes. Has Florida State head coach Willie Taggart recognized precisely how to handle the matter and move forward? Also, yes.
Let’s begin with Taggart’s on-field demeanor while the mess ensued. Some have suggested that he should have blown a gasket and engaged in full-blown histrionics. And while the idea of doing whatever it takes to draw attention to the officials’ misjudgment seems to make sense, it just would not have been the right move.
In the short-term view, the play was over, and the officials had told Taggart that it was simply “not close” enough to review. This transpired with FSU still up on the scoreboard, and a ton of football left to be played. If Taggart loses it there, what kind of example is he setting for his team? He needs his squad to retain its composure, so what kind of model is he being if he loses his head?
In a more long-term setting, would that really have been the precedent that Taggart should have set? Bemoaning a bad break, and instilling among his players the idea that all is lost once you catch a bad break?
This is the ACC, so anyone reading this article probably knows that that doesn’t always mean “bringing your ‘A’ game” when it comes to officiating. So the notion that throwing a fit is the right course of action just seems shortsighted at best, and potentially harmful to your own team’s culture at worst. If you dwell too long on the concept that others control your destiny, you forfeit the much more important truth that you’re the masters of your own destiny, that how you prepare on the practice field is the ultimate determinant of on-field success.
In the days after FSU’s loss to Miami, Taggart has continued to respond appropriately to questions about the dubiously called penalty. He submitted a request to the ACC offices for a clarification on the decision. This is a rational, well-reasoned response. And he’s also stressed moving on. Florida State fans may not want to hear that, because losing like the Seminoles did to the Hurricanes really hurts. But it’s not just the correct course of action, it’s the only one that the ’Noles have.