4. Willie Taggart, Florida State
Sort of lost in all of the problems in Willie Taggart’s first season was that he had a whole lot of work to do.
This wasn’t the Florida State of 2013 that the new guy was taking over. Jimbo Fisher bailed on a 5-6 team that had no blocking from a bad offensive line, wasn’t getting enough from an attack that lost starting QB Deondre Francois right out of the gate, and wasted a strong defensive season.
There was more rebuilding to do than it appeared. For a new head coach who had never won a conference title or a bowl game, going 5-7 for a school that hadn’t missed a bowl appearance since 1981, this wasn’t how you make your debut.
This doesn’t make things any better for a program that should be in the national title chase every year, but out of the seven losses, four were against teams that finished with at least ten wins, one of those was against a Notre Dame team that went to the College Football Playoff, and one was against Clemson.
In all, FSU played ten bowl teams, and … it’s still not okay to go 5-7 in Tallahassee.
There’s still rebuilding to do, but it’s not all doom-and-gloom. Getting Wisconsin grad transfer quarterback Alex Hornibrook helps boost a down position, Cam Akers is a terrific running back, and the receiving corps is going to be better. Eight starters are back on a defense should be a whole lot stronger.
The O line is still an issue, but if the Noles can get by Boise State in the season-opener in Jacksonville, getting past six wins to go bowling again shouldn’t be a problem.
No, there won’t be an ACC Championship, and going to Clemson and Florida is a problem, but the needle on the Taggart era should start pointing up.