Taggart chooses to travel the high road
Willie Taggart is much nicer and less vindictive than most of us would be if we were fired from our dream job before we ever really had a chance to do our dream job.
When I asked the new FAU coach earlier this week why he has not criticized FSU for pulling the plug on him after only a yearand-a-half, Taggart answered with class and grace and even gave his blessing to new Seminoles coach Mike Norvell:
“No need to be bitter,” Taggart said during an interview on my Open Mike radio show. “I don’t get bitter. I just try to do the best job I can and control the things I can control. That’s my attitude. … You have to understand there are some things you can’t control, so there’s no need to be bitter about them. … Coach Norvell will do a great job there. … I wish Florida State the best of luck and they still have a fan in Coach Taggart.”
When I asked Taggart if he would have ever left Oregon if he’d known he would only get a year-and-a-half to turn around the FSU program, he replied: “If we could predict the future, we wouldn’t have any adversity at all. I don’t take back the decision I made to go there [to FSU]. We wanted to get it right and unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted it to when we wanted it to.”
Perhaps one reason Taggart isn’t overly angry is because of the $18 million buyout he is getting from FSU. When I quizzed him on how that buyout money is distributed — “Do you get it one big lump sum?” — Taggart simply said, “Just put it this way: I get it.”
Many of us would probably have taken a year or two off if somebody were paying us nearly $20 million not to work, but Taggart said he isn’t built that way. He spent some time with his wife and kids after being fired by FSU, but he knew quickly it was time to look for another coaching job. And when Lane Kiffin left for Ole Miss, Taggart said the FAU opportunity was “too good to pass up.”
“I had people ask me, ‘Why would you work again?’ ” Taggart said of the possibility of kicking back, relaxing and living on the FSU buyout. “You don’t sit around and think about the money you have. It’s great to be able to support your family and all, but coaching and mentoring and changing lives is what I do. That’s my calling and I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to do that at a place like FAU.”
For the first time in his career, Taggart is taking over a program that’s actually in good shape. FAU has won two conference titles in the last three years, has a nice on-campus stadium and is getting ready to move into its new football facility.
“This is a program that’s winning and understands what it takes to win,” Taggart said. “That’s totally different than any program I’ve ever taken over. We have a nice stadium, the new