Taggart puts Seminoles’ traditions front, center
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida State football players listen to a few hip hop songs inside the indoor practice facility to stretch and get their juices flowing before preseason practice.
But once the Seminoles storm the practice fields, with the hope of redeeming themselves after a disappointing 2017 season, they march to the beat of a different tune synonymous with their university.
The Florida State Fight Song has book-ended practice sessions this week, with the Seminoles players even singing in unison to conclude practice.
Along with watching the “The Bowden Dynasty” — a documentary detailing Bobby Bowden’s legendary run as FSU coach — new coach Willie Taggart continues to cultivate pride and school spirit among coaches and players during preseason camp.
“It was amazing when I asked our guys how many guys knew the fight song, and only two guys raised their hand,” Taggart said on Friday. “That’s a problem.”
Taggart, a lifelong Seminoles fan before he took the coaching job in December, wants his players and coaches to fully grasp the rich tradition of Florida State football with hopes of building on the program’s championship tradition established under Bowden and former coach Jimbo Fisher.
Since becoming FSU’s coach, Taggart has welcomed Bowden and a slew of former players back into the fold of their football program. He also hired former veteran defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews to join the coaching staff as his special assistant.
As for the players who were not cognizant of the heydays when Bowden and the Seminoles reigned during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, they have been encouraged to learn about the school’s football history and customs.
Senior defensive lineman Wally Aime said his teammates only knew the portion of the song where Florida State is spelled out because that’s what they hear from fans in the stadium.
Now the players and coaches sing the fight song whenever it comes on while on the field and even in meeting rooms.
“Coach Taggart just wants us to know where we came from and know that Florida State is our school and our family,” Aime said. “We haven’t done that in the past. I didn’t realize how bad that was until Taggart brought it up.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Bailey Hockman, who compared Bowden’s run with the Seminoles to Nick Saban’s current run with Alabama, realizes the importance of the current players carrying on FSU’s traditions.
“I think it’s a really big deal,” Hockman said. “It kind of makes you see the bigger picture of what you’re playing for. … I’m actually playing for something way bigger than me and myself.”
Hitting the road
FSU announced Friday it has agreed to a multi-year deal with IMG Academy in Bradenton to host preseason practices this year and in the future.
By signing the multi-year agreement, FSU is now permitted under NCAA rules to publicize and promote the practices.
Last week, FSU announced plans of having some preseason practices at an off-campus location without mentioning IMG to avoid NCAA penalties.
The Seminoles will travel by bus from Tallahassee to Bradenton today and practice from Monday through Thursday before returning to the FSU campus.