TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – For the 41st consecutive year, the Florida State Seminoles find themselves in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. And once again, the road for five of the 64 teams in the field will run through Tallahassee.
The Seminoles (43-17, 20-13) are getting hot at the right time. They are fresh off of another ACC Tournament title–their second in three years. Their finish to the season earned them a No. 7 national seed.
Starting on the mound Friday night will be Cole Sands (7-3, 4.46 ERA). The junior from Tallahassee took on the role of ace after Tyler Holton suffered a season ending arm injury on opening day. Sands exited a game against Duke back in early April with shoulder tightness, and was relegated to a Sunday starting role when he returned on May 7. However, coach Mike Martin is handing him the reigns to start yet another postseason run for the Seminoles.
Drew Mendoza is the hottest FSU hitter coming into the tournament. In the ACC tournament, he went 5-for-12 with 5 RBI and 4 runs. As a whole, FSU’s offense has been a huge strength. They are No. 18 in the nation in runs scored (406) and No. 1 in walks (381).
Here is how the rest of the competition looks as a whole for this regional:
Florida State (43-17, 20-13)
Team Batting Avg.: .268
Team ERA: 3.94
Record vs. Top-25 (According to USA Today): 10-9
Big Wins: @ No. 8 UNC (2 out-of 3), @ No. 11 Clemson (ACC Semi), vs. No. 19 NC State (2 out-of 3)
Mississippi State (31-26, 15-15)
Team Batting Avg.: .278
Team ERA: 4.25
Record vs Top-25 (According to USA Today): 11-5
Big Wins: Vs. No. 5 Ole Miss (2 out-of 3), vs. No. 1 Florida (sweep), vs. No. 3 Arkansas (sweep)
Oklahoma (36-23, 14-10)
Team Batting Avg.: .273
Team ERA: 3.84
Record vs Top-25 (According to USA Today): 3-5
Big Wins: Vs. No. 32 Baylor (sweep), @ No. 44 UCF (2 out-of 3)
Samford (36-24, 16-8)
Team Batting Avg.: .269
Team ERA: 3.48
Record vs Top-25 (According to USA Today): 1-1
Big Wins: @No. 44 UCF, vs. No. 14 Auburn
The Seminoles kick off their postseason against Samford at 7 p.m. The winner of this regional will face the winner of the Clemson regional, which could potentially be Clemson, St. John’s, Vanderbilt, and Morehead State.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida State started their defense of the ACC championship on the right foot, defeating the Virginia Cavaliers 3-2 in 11 innings.
FSU (40-17, 16-13), scored first on a Cal Raleigh double in the first inning, followed by another double in the third inning. The Cavaliers (28-25, 12-18), with a run already scored in the top half of the third, tied the game in the fourth inning off a Justin Novak single to score Cayman Richardson .
It remained tied at 2 runs, but Virginia came close to breaking the game open in the eighth inning. With one out, the Cavaliers loaded the bases, with their clean-up hitter coming to the plate. FSU manager Mike Martin called on relief pitcher Clayton Kwiatkowski to get them out of the jam. The sophomore proceeded to strike out the next two batters to escape the inning.
Kwiatkowski pitched the final 3.2 innings of the game without giving up a hit.
The big break for the Seminoles came in the 11th inning. With Drew Mendoza on first base, Reese Albert hit a double to score Mendoza to defeat Virginia 3-2. This is the second walk-off hit for the freshman this week. On May 18, he also hit the game-winning home run in the 10th inning against North Carolina State.
With the win, FSU has now won 40 or more games in 41 consecutive seasons. That’s the longest such streak in the nation, with Louisville at No. 2 with 7 consecutive seasons.
FSU’s next game will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. against NC State. The winner of that game will advance to the ACC semifinals.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – A game between rivals Miami and Florida State wouldn’t be complete without a nail-biting finish. And that’s exactly what the 4,432 people at Dick Howser Stadium were treated to on Friday night.
The No. 14 Florida State Seminoles (30-13, 12-9) defeated the Miami Hurricanes (17-24, 10-12) in a 2-0 shutout.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it was Florida State and Miami. Did you expect anything less?” said FSU manager Mike Martin.
FSU catcher Cal Raleigh was the first and only source of offense when he hit a two-run home run to center field in the 1st inning. Neither team would score again the rest of the night.
“I was just looking for a fastball to hit, and obviously I put a good swing on it,” said Raleigh, who went 2-for-3. “Obviously things didn’t go the way we wanted to for the rest of the offense, but that’s just baseball. Some days you score two, some days you score twenty.”
Miami starting pitcher Jeb Bargfeldt retired the next 15 FSU batters that he faced after the Raleigh home run.
FSU starting pitcher Drew Parrish was effective from the beginning. He struck out nine of the first fourteen batters he faced, and ended with thirteen strikeouts– a career-high for him.
Parrish made it through the 7th inning allowing only two men to reach scoring position, and allowed nobody to reach third. However, he found himself in a jam in the 8th after walking Miami first baseman Raymond Gil and allowing a single to shortstop Freddy Zamora. With only one out, coach Martin went out to the mound to talk to Parrish.
“Coach came out and asked me how I was feeling and I told him I had this all the way and I wanted it more than anything,” said Parrish.
The next batter laid down a difficult sacrifice bunt in front of the mound to advance the runners, and Parrish made the play to get the runner at first.
“Had he not been on the mound, I can’t say every single pitcher on our staff makes that play,” said Martin. “Drew Parrish makes that play.”
The Seminoles’ biggest threat to their lead came in the 9th. Conor Grady came in relief of Parrish and allowed a single to Danny Reyes to start the inning. With Reyes on first, Cal Raleigh attempted to pick him off, but the throw sailed over first baseman Rhett Aplin’s head and into the outfield, allowing Reyes to reach third base. Grady got the next batter to fly out, but then allowed a walk, and hit a batter to load the bases.
That’s when Mike Martin brought in Jonah Scolaro. With the bases loaded and only one out, Scolaro struck out the last two batters to secure the win.
“With his demeanor, you feel good about him coming in the ball game. He doesn’t have any different looks on his face when he comes in,” said Martin. “He just came in against the University of Miami with the bases loaded, one out, and very good hitters, and struck both of them out. It was quite a credit to him.”
The two teams play again tomorrow at 6 p.m. With the victory, Mike Martin is two wins away from becoming the winningest coach in NCAA baseball history.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida State starting pitcher Andrew Karp has been moved into the weekend rotation, starting Sunday Apr. 22 at Boston College. He was originally scheduled for Sunday, Apr. 15 against Duke, but rain forced the teams to cancel the game. It will be the junior’s first weekend start since last year, where he made two such appearances, combining for a 6.43 ERA in 7 innings against the University of Virginia and University of the Pacific.
The decision comes in the midst of freshman Austin Pollock’s recent struggles. Pollock was originally put into the Sunday spot in the rotation when FSU’s ace, Tyler Holton, suffered a season-ending injury on opening day. Pollock is posting an 8.87 ERA in five conference starts.
Karp has been the main starting pitcher for weekday games, including pitching in each of the last six games against the Florida Gators over the last 2 seasons. With his six starts against UF, FSU coach, Mike Martin said that he thinks the experience could help him adapt to the brunt of ACC play.
“Any time you’re given the ball three straight times against a team that’s as talented as Florida, and you pitch as well as he did, you’ve got to feel ‘I don’t know what [The ACC teams] have, but I know what Florida had, and I know what I can do,” Martin said.
Karp, who has a 2.88 ERA and a team-leading 65 strikeouts, credits his progress to staying in Tallahassee after the College World Series last year.
“I stayed here right after Omaha. I stayed here and I lifted everyday with coach Seth [Diters], and definitely got my body in position where I’m able to go out there every week and compete,” Karp said. “I wanna throw as many innings as possible. I wanna go deep into games, save our bullpen, and give our team a chance to win.
Coach Martin said that he first noticed Karp was a weekend-caliber starter last year, in one of his starts against UF.
“Lost on a check swing. Pitched very well against them all three outings this year. Lost a one-run ballgame in Jacksonville. So I would say going back to that game is when I said, ‘This guy’s got a good chance to pitch in our rotation,'” Martin said. “He’s earned it, I’m anxious to see how he does with it.”
Karp was needed this past Tuesday against Stetson University. He pitched a one-hit shutout in five innings, collecting nine strikeouts on 71 pitches. He’s expected to throw around that same amount on Sunday.
His first weekend outing of the year is expected to come Sunday, Apr. 22 at Boston College. It will be his first ever appearance against the Eagles.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – For the eighth time in a row, and the 13th in the last 14 games, the Florida State Seminoles fell to the Florida Gators.
The No. 1 Gators (29-6) defeated the No. 10 Seminoles (24-10) 6-3 in Tallahassee on Tuesday.
“We made a couple of mistakes, and they were taken advantage of,” coach Mike Martin said.
After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the 3rd off a Cooper Swanson home run, the Seminoles committed 2 errors in the 4th inning to help UF get ahead. Florida third baseman Jonathan India stole second, and advanced to third when FSU catcher Cal Raleigh threw the ball wide of shortstop Mike Salvatore. From there, India scored on a double from Wil Dalton. Two batters later, Austin Langworthy singled to left to score Dalton, and advanced to second when Raleigh couldn’t field the throw coming in from the outfield. Langworthy would then score on a Blake Reese single.
The Seminoles offense battled, but every run they scored was quickly answered in the very next inning by Florida. In the 5th inning, FSU second baseman Nick Derr scored on a Mike Salvatore sacrifice groundout to pull the Seminoles within a run. The Gators answered with 2 more runs in the next inning to push the score to 5-2.
Seminole left fielder Jackson Lueck hit a solo home run to right-center field in the 7th. The very next inning Gator catcher JJ Schwarz answered with a home run of his own. Schwarz has gone 22-for-65 (.369) for 8 home runs and 25 RBI in his career vs FSU.
The Seminoles had a lot of chances to capitalize on offense. They loaded the bases in the 6th inning, but Swanson grounded out in front of the catcher before anything could get started.
This marks the eighth time in a row that FSU has fallen to UF. The last time FSU beat UF was in the 2016 super regionals in Gainesville. This is the second year in a row that the Gators have swept the three-game “Sunshine Showdown” series.
“I wish I could explain a little bit of my frustration,” coach Martin said. “But we still have 22 games left in the regular season. And he hope we can continue to get better every day.”
The Seminoles return to the field for a 3-game weekend series vs. Duke, starting Friday at 6 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) –The No. 21 UCF Knights came into Tuesday’s game with the 7th-best team ERA in the country, but Florida State still generated quality offense in a 6-4 victory.
The No. 8 Seminoles (16-4, 3-3) were kept at bay by the Knights through the first 2 innings. But with 2 outs in the 3rd, second baseman Nick Derr hit a two-run home run to right-center field for his 4th home run of the year.
The ‘Noles followed it up with another big inning in the 4th. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, J.C. Flowers hit a ball through the middle to send home Drew Mendoza. With the bases loaded shortstop Mike Salvatore hit into a sacrifice fly to bring home Steven Wells. Nick Derr added to the damage with an RBI single to center field.
Seminole starting pitcher Andrew Karp faltered a little in the 2nd, hitting the first batter of the inning, and then allowing 2 singles to load the bases with 1 out. Karp and the Seminoles got out of the inning with a pop out to Salvatore.
Karp would cruise through the next 5 innings, save for a solo home run in the 4th inning. Things almost came unraveled for Karp and the Seminoles in the 8th inning, when UCF first baseman Rylan Thomas hit a two-run home run that barely scraped by the left field foul pole to cut the Knight’s deficit to 6-3.
After 117 pitches, Karp’s day was done. He struck out 10 and walked none over 7.1 IP.
Gage Hutchinson came in relief, and almost got the Seminoles into more trouble. Dallas Beaver singled to score Matthew Mika to bring them to 6-4. Hutchinson was able to get the final strikeout to get the Seminoles out of their biggest jam.
The Seminoles and Knights play again Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – The No. 5 Florida State Seminoles started their weekend with a 9-2 rout of the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs.
Florida State starting pitcher Cole Sands struggled early. After allowing a leadoff walk, centerfielder Chris Troost doubled to bring home the first run of the game.
However, FSU (9-0) would get those runs right back. With 2 out and a runner on first, Cal Raleigh (3-for-4) hit a triple off the top of the right field wall to drive home Rhett Aplin. On the next at-bat, Drew Mendoza would drive home Raleigh to give the Seminoles the lead.
The ‘Noles would put up 3 more runs in the 4th. Cooper Swanson drew a walk with the bases loaded. Jackson Lueck hit a 2 RBI single to put the ‘Noles up, 5-1.
The Bulldogs’ (2-6) biggest chance to catch up to FSU came in the 5th. With a run already in, and runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 out, Cole Sands threw a wild pitch to allow Carmine Pagano to reach 3rd. Luckily, Sands (5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) struck out Brandon Lankford to get out of trouble.
Although he pitched a quality start, Sands feels he didn’t have his best stuff.
“Not a lot was working for me”, said the Tallahassee native. “It’s refreshing to just look up and even on my worst night, it’s not a huge number up there.”
The big inning for the Seminoles came in the 6th. After walking the bases loaded with 2-out, Cal Raleigh drove a ball to right center for a 3-run double. Raleigh ended the night with 4 RBI, tying a career-high.
Raleigh, who came into tonight hitting only .192, said he got some work in with his coaches this week.
“We’ve just been working on some stuff,” Raleigh said. “Some little mechanical things, they just started clicking. So hopefully it keeps working.”
Junior pitcher Cobi Johnson came in relief of Sands. Johnson recorded 6 strikeouts in 2 innings. He now has 16 strikeouts in 6 innings this year.
Freshman Tyler Ahearn pitched the last 2 innings for FSU. He gave up no runs on 1 hit in 2 innings.
The Seminoles continue their series tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Drew Parrish (1-0, 1.59 ERA) is expected to start for the ‘Noles.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – It wasn’t the glamorous first-start that all freshmen dream of, but lefty Austin Pollock got the job done Sunday afternoon. The Tallahassee native got through a rocky first two innings and a 1:18 rain delay to pick up his first collegiate win in a 9-4 victory against Troy University.
The trouble came quick for Pollock. On the very first pitch of the afternoon, Matt Sanders hit a ball into right field for a double. After the next batter reached on an error, Pollock turned around to pick off Sanders at second base for the first out. One more batter reached on another error before Brody Binder grounded into a double play.
The second inning is where all of Troy’s damage against Pollock was done. After getting two straight strikeouts, he allowed a solo home run to Cole Prestergard to give Troy a 1-0 lead.
The Seminoles’ offense helped Pollock out, putting up five runs in the bottom on the 2nd.
After the 2nd inning, the steady rain turned into a downpour, and sent the game into a rain delay that lasted an hour and 18 minutes. During that period, coach Mike Martin said that Pollock kept loose and threw two or three different times during the delay.
Pollock was hot coming out of the delay. He retired 8 of 9 batters he faced from the 3rd through the 5th inning. In the 6th, he allowed a walk and a single, but got out of the inning unscathed.
Coach Martin was impressed with Pollock’s resiliency after his early struggles.
“He had a couple of opportunities to feel sorry for himself and fold the tent. He kept battling,” Martin said.
Pollock, who entered the pitching rotation after junior ace Tyler Holton went down with a season-ending injury, pitched in relief last weekend, where he allowed no runs on 3 hits in 4 innings in his first ever appearance for the Seminoles.
The Lincoln High School graduate said he was confident coming into today’s outing.
“I feel like I got all of my nerves out last game,” Pollock said. “Just because the stage is a little bigger, you’re still playing baseball.”
Pollock said he’s been coming to watch FSU games since he was a kid, and was excited for the opportunity to pitch in front of his hometown crowd.
“It was definitely a dream come true,” Pollock said. “It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
As of right now, he is slated to start next Sunday against UNC-Asheville.
Pollock’s final line was 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 1 BB.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida State starting pitcher Tyler Holton will miss the remainder of the season with a torn UCL. Holton will undergo Tommy John surgery this Thursday. The junior ace left the Seminoles’ opening game last Friday in the 5th inning after manager Mike Martin had a trainer go check on him. After the game, Martin said that Holton felt the same type of pain back in high school, but nothing ever came of it. Holton, who came into this season leading all returning pitchers in the nation with 144 strikeouts last year, was pitching a one-hit shutout when he was pulled.
“Tyler is a fine young man and we’re all disappointed at this setback in his career,” Martin said. “He’s doing the best thing right now. We’ll be there for him and help guide him through the rehab process, but as a team, we have to keep moving forward on our goals for this season.”
In an update after last Saturday’s game, before the diagnosis was made, Martin said he would consider having a look at freshman Austin Pollock to become the No. 4 starter if Holton had to miss extended time. Pollock allowed no runs in 4 innings last Saturday.
Florida State recovered from a slow start to notch a victory over Xavier Saturday afternoon, 7-2.
Cole Sands took the mound for the Seminoles (2-0) for his first start of the season. In 2017, he went 6-4 while throwing a 5.40 ERA in 83.1 innings. Today, he found himself in trouble from the very first batter when Xavier shortstop Ryan Attenberger doubled to right field. After Sands allowed a single on the next at-bat, right fielder Joe Gellenbeck hit a single to right field to give the Musketeers (0-2) their first runs of the game. Three batters in, manager Mike Martin and pitching coach Mike Bell went out to the mound for a quick meeting with Sands. The following at-bat, Sands allowed a sacrifice fly out to center field, bringing home Conor Grammes. Still with one out, two runs allowed already, and a runner still on base, Sands retired the next two batters on strikeouts.
“It was just kind of nerves,” said Sands. “I was a little on top of the zone. I had to get the ball back down, and get the ball back to the corner of the plate.”
Sands (5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB) would go on to retire 15 of the next 16 batters that he faced, picking up a career-high 9 strikeouts.
“What I wanted him to know was he was literally in a position to get out of the innings if he could get a popup or a strikeout,” Martin said of Sands’ first inning. “I think that is when Cole really showed his true colors. He bared down, and got us in the dugout.”
After being in a two-run hole early, the Seminoles answered quickly when freshman shortstop Mike Salvatore reached on a walk to lead off the inning, and scored on a Rhett Aplin double.
Two innings later, Salvatore scored again, this time off a Cal Raleigh sac fly. Salvatore would score three runs despite only having two official plate appearances.
The score sat at 2-2 going into the bottom of the 4th. Salvatore drove home J.C. Flowers (2-for-3, 2 R) on a sac fly to left field to break the tie. The Seminoles would keep this lead for the remainder of the game.
The Seminoles got some insurance in the 5th inning. With 2 outs already in the inning, Cal Raleigh laid down a bunt that hugged the third base line to beat the extreme defensive shit Xavier set against him. Following a Nick Derr walk, Flowers smacked a ball up the middle that careened off of pitcher Matt Kent’s leg. Shortstop Ryan Attenberger was able to field it, but not in time to catch Flowers at first. With the bases loaded, senior Rafael Bournigal doubled to right center field to clear the bases, giving FSU a 6-3 lead.
In the top of the 6th, Tallahassee native Austin Pollock came in relief of Sands to make his college debut. Pollock (4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) cruised through his first two innings, but came close to surrenduring his first run of the game in the 8th inning when Conor Grammes hit a double to center field. With Ryan Attenberger racing home, J.C. Flowers relayed the ball to Salvatore, who was able to throw out Attenberger at the plate.
The Seminoles shut out the Musketeers in the last 8 innings.
With starting pitcher Tyler Holton out, Martin said he and his staff would consider giving Pollock a look at being in the top four of the pitching rotation.
The Seminoles close out their opening series on Sunday against Xavier at 1:00 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – The Florida State Seminoles baseball team started the season on the right foot with a 9-1 victory over the Xavier Musketeers, behind a great pitching performance from Tyler Holton, and a quick start on offense.
Manager Mike Martin, whose team started in a 0-1 hole to start the season last year, was happy with the early production from both sides of the ball tonight.
“Tonight’s ballgame was a good start, a little bit better than last year…It wasn’t a great beginning last year,” Martin said. Martin is entering his 39th year as the skipper for FSU. “ I was very proud of the way the young men approached the game. Had some key hits, but let’s face it, we had some outstanding pitching.”
Holton, who leads all returning players nationally with 144 strikeouts last season, was dominant throughout the game. After allowing the first batter of the game to reach on an error at third base, Holton proceeded to retire the next 12 batters he faced. In the fifth inning, Xavier second baseman Sam Flamini doubled off Holton to give the Musketeers their first hit of the game. Holton struck out the next two batters but then walked catcher Nate Soria. That’s when Mike Martin and a team trainer came out to look at him and pulled him from the game.
Martin said it was tenderness in his throwing arm, and it’s a problem he had back in high school as well.
“He acted like that’s exactly the way it felt (when it happened in high school). So, therefore, he’s gonna have to take some time off,” Martin said. “Once we get the diagnosis, we’ll know what to do.”
Holton finished with 4.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts.
The Seminole offense was off to a hot start, scoring two runs in each of the first two innings. Much like last year, the Noles found ways to get on base without getting many hits. They were walked a total of 10 times. Of the 28 baserunners FSU had, 13 of them reached via walks or hit-by-pitch.
Junior college transfer Mike Salvatore reached base first for the Seminoles after getting walked. Junior left fielder Jackson Lueck was walked immediately after. Rhett Aplin got the Noles’ first hit of the season on a single to center, but the Seminoles would have to wait for their first run of the year, as Salvatore was thrown out at the plate. Xavier pitcher Trevor Olson hit Drew Mendoza to load the bases and walked Cal Raleigh to bring Jackson Lueck home for the first run of the season.
The Seminoles continued their offensive output in the third when designated hitter Nick Derr hit a solo home run for FSU’s first of the year. He went 2-for-3 with two runs.
Another offensive explosion came in the sixth inning. With two outs, Mendoza reached on a single, followed by walks for Raleigh and Derr. With the bases loaded, J.C. Flowers hit a line drive off shortstop Chris Givin’s glove, driving home Mendoza and Raleigh. Then, freshman Reese Albert came in as a pinch-hitter, and delivered a single to center, driving home two more runs. Four new Seminoles got hits in their debuts. Aside from Albert, Rafael Bournigal, Cooper Swanson, and Jared Herron all collected hits today.
“It’s great for our little camaraderie for our ballclub. A couple of guys got their first taste of D1 baseball, and started off their career with a base hit,” Martin said. “That part of it is always fun for the coaches.”
Junior pitcher Cobi Johnson entered the game for the Seminoles in the eighth and retired six of the seven batters that he faced. Of those six batters, he struck out four. This was the first time Johnson has pitched since injuring his arm in April 2016. Johnson was happy with his season debut.
“I’m just so happy to be able to compete again and be pain-free up there on the mound. I’m just so happy I could cry,” Johnson said.
The Seminoles take on the Musketeers again Saturday at 1 p.m. Cole Sands will take the mound for FSU.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) –New Florida State head coach Willie Taggart is coming home. In an emotional introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon, Taggart described the FSU head coaching position as his “dream job”.
Taggart’s arrival brings an end to what’s been a roller coaster of a week for FSU and its administration. The school parted ways with eight-year head coach Jimbo Fisher after he signed a 10-year, $75 million contact with Texas A&M. Around 10:45 A.M., he exited his SUV outside of Doak Campbell Stadium and immediately embraced university President John Thrasher. He walked through a tunnel of cheerleaders and FSU band members, emphatically doing the Tomahawk Chop as the iconic Seminole Warchant blared all around him.
“I can finally say ‘I’m in,’” said the new coach, with eyes watering from emotion. “I wanted to come here and play. I guess I wasn’t good enough to get a scholarship to play here…No matter where I went, the Seminoles were always a part of me.”
The 41-year-old has been a Seminole his entire life, along with the rest of his family.
“If you weren’t a ‘Noles fan, you probably weren’t staying in that house,” said Taggart, about his family’s die-hard commitment to the ‘Noles.
Taggart coached at the University of South Florida from 2013-2016, and even then, his family had to root for FSU. Taggart described a time when his brother told him that he was still going to cheer on the Seminoles, even when Taggart coached a game against FSU.
Taggart was offered the FSU job after his one-year stint with the University of Oregon. He thanked Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullins, and said that the decision to leave was hard. However, he said, the situation was too good to pass up.
“I wasn’t going to leave it just for anything because it was perfect and my family loved it there and had everything going the right way”, said Taggart. “But to be closer to your family and still have an opportunity to coach in the Power Five and still have an opportunity to win a National Championship, which is a personal goal, it was tough to overcome.”
He said that his decision came after a profound moment he had with his 16-year-old son. While sitting at home and discussing the decision with his wife, his son walked in and offered some advice to the coach and father of three.
“He said ‘Dad, You always tell me to chase my dreams and don’t let anyone get in the way of it,” Taggart said. “I don’t think it’s right for me or anyone else to stop you from chasing your dreams… I don’t want to leave, Dad, but if you’re going to chase your dream, then I’m going to ride with you.”
Coach Taggart had just lost his father this past summer, and he said that listening to his son talk to him was like “my father talking to me.”
Taggart won’t coach the ‘Noles in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27. His first official game with FSU will be Sep. 3, 2018 against Virginia Tech at home.
Taggart comes here with a history of turning programs around. Seminole fans might remember him mostly for his stint with the University of South Florida. In 2013, he took a team that went 3-9 the previous year and went 2-10 in his first season. From there, the team improved on their wins with each season, going 4-8, 8-5, and 11-2 respectively from 2014-2016. In his final two seasons, he brought them to a bowl, although he had already resigned before the 2016 bowl game in which they beat South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.
At Western Kentucky, he took over a team that was winless in the season before he got there, and improved the team to 2-10, 7-5, and 7-6 in his three years there. They were bowl eligible in his final two years, and got invited to the Little Caesar’s Bowl in his final season.
Oregon was 7-5 in his one season with them.
The Bradenton, Fla. native will likely offer a solid recruiting pipeline in the central Florida area. The 2018 recruiting class for FSU is already hurting. Between the time that former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was fired from A&M and the time Taggart was hired, FSU had lost seven recruits, and slid from having the No. 11 recruiting class to No. 40, according to Rivals.com.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love you all too and love being here, but there’s a lot of work to be done, and we’ve got to make sure we do that,” Taggart said in regards to recruiting.
He attended the FSU men’s basketball game last night to address the crowd, saying he wants to “lead FSU back to its winning ways.”
After the game, he went to four-star linebacker recruit Amari Gainer’s home to speak with him. Gainer reiterated his committment to FSU posting a picture with coach on Twitter with the caption “1000% #Tribe18.”
Taggart is also the first full-time black head coach for FSU. FSU is the only Power Five school to have a black Athletic Director, football coach, and basketball coach. When addressed about it, he gave credit where it was due.
“I [wasn’t] necessarily the full-time coach, because Odell [Haggins] is the first African American coach here,” Taggart said.
He was referring to FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins, who took over the head coaching job in an interim role for the last regular season game. Haggins was the first ever black head football coach in FSU history in either an interim or full-time role. Haggins will also be acting head coach for the Seminoles when they play Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl.