Any new coach hopes to make his mark on the program he’s inherited. And that’s especially true when a fresh leader emerges at a football school as steeped in tradition as Florida State.
So here we find ourselves in the first fall days of Willie Taggart’s tenure as the head coach of the ’Noles. He and his staff rescued what was a lost 2018 recruiting class under the previous regime. They said all the right things throughout spring ball. And now that fall camp has arrived, and the buildup to the 2018 season with it, they’ve continued to hit on all the right notes.
But have they done so by boasting their previous successes? Not really. In fact, Taggart, along with defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett and offensive coordinator Walt Bell, have instead paid homage to the principles of history, teamwork, and trust.
Between the coordinators, Barnett spoke first, and was asked what the recent addition of former FSU DC Mickey Andrews brings to the staff:
Wisdom. I love it, man. First time he came by here maybe in February or something — first thing I said, “Coach, give us some wisdom.” I glean on that type of stuff, and I just wrote down — I’m not going to share what he said, but I wrote it down and I got it in my notes.
So when this came about and Coach Taggart said he wanted to bring him on, I said “Awesome. That’s awesome.”
There’s nothing like getting that wisdom. I’m always trying to pull wisdom from older people that have experienced things that I have not, and because you can learn from their mistakes and their successes. So I think it’s big time. I’m fired up about it. I really am.
Offensive coordinator Walt Bell was also humble in describing his own role, especially as it pertains to backing up Taggart:
I think my job this season is as follows: And that’s to do everything that I can possibly do, whether it be from an efficiency time management/organization, my job is to do everything I can possibly do where it is as easy as it can possibly be for him on game day.
That’s my job to make sure from an organizational standpoint, from a teaching standpoint, from a mentor standpoint; that we are doing everything we can do for our 11 kids on offense to make sure that all Coach Taggart has got to do is call it and it happens the way he wants it to.
Bell was later asked about his self-characterization as a Type-A personality, with regard to working under Taggart. He responded:
Well, I’m very Type A about being the best employee that I can be (Laughter). I’m very Type A about taking care of my new wife. I’m very Type A about being— my grand dad was in the military and I’ve got a brother in the military. I’m very good at following instruction, and I take pride in being a great employee and doing everything I get asked to do, no more, no less.
That’s his role. That’s his job. My job is to provide him with the best information I possibly can do. I’m not going to be the antsy guy out there spitting out stuff, that’s not me.
My job is to be the best offensive coordinator I can be so he can go do his job to the best of his ability. When I say I’m Type A, you know, whether it’s— how I work or how I organize or whatever it may be, you know, but in no way, shape or form will that ever manifest itself in a way that’s destructive to us on game day.
Finally, to Taggart’s own comments. And ask yourself honestly— would Jimbo Fisher say this?
And then on Saturdays, I’m going to call the plays. And I’m sure there will be times, “Walt, I need a play.”
And Walt, “Got ya, Coach.”
There will be a time, “Hey, give me one of your best running plays.” He’s going to give it to me.
There’s going to be a lot of times where I lean heavily on those guys calling plays. I think that’s part of it, too. These guys work tirelessly all week long, we all do, and there’s times where I might get stuck on a series and need a play.
So I’m going to lean on those guys then. I think when you’re running the offense and there’s an up-tempo, it’s tough to have a lot of voices because of calling it and the tempo standpoint. I need somebody. I lean on those guys.
“Lethal simplicity.” We’ve heard it from Taggart time and again. And that’s certainly not absent in the comments of his coordinators. There’s something quite simplistic, streamlined, even, in everyone knowing his job and executing it to perfection.
Of course, that’s easy to vocalize at a presser. What remains to be seen is how well this humility holds up over the course of a daunting 2018 schedule for the Seminoles.
You can check out the full transcripts from each of these FSU coaches by clicking here.