Tag­gart puts Seminoles’ tra­di­tions front, cen­ter

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Safid Deen Staff Writer

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.

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