More than a week ago, there was quite a bit of drama for Florida State Twitter, as if there wasn’t enough already, floating around. It started when senior cornerback Levonta Taylor sent out a now-deleted tweet about former players coming back to the program and possibly giving tips to current players.
It turned sour when Antonio Cromartie responded: Hate to say but your coaches don’t want us helping!!! Former players have said they would come in help and No one on the staff has give us a heads up of when. So it’s not on us. Y’all need to check with your staff. Just saying if you want to know the truth.
It snowballed from there. Travis Johnson put in his opinion, Jacobbi McDaniel chipped in, and eventually running backs coach Donte’ Pimpleton came in and responded to claims that the staff was not listening. The whole thing wasn’t all that exciting, which is unfortunate for the Florida Gator fan accounts in the replies attempting to egg it on.
On one hand, it’s disheartening to see an argument like this unfold in public eye. No one is particularly happy about a 5-7 season, and any time former players say they don’t feel welcome, it makes you question the current staff’s commitment to keeping a university tradition. Considering it was one of the first goals that head coach Willie Taggart set out to fulfill, you would hope it wasn’t just for show.
On the other hand…there’s a few weird dynamics here that suggest we shouldn’t immediately buy in to the claim that the staff has abandoned all sense of tradition. We’re going to try and put this as delicately as possible. Look at the names involved in that conversation and think back to what exactly those guys have been doing on Twitter for the past few months.
Any time there was discussion about the bad season, those same accounts were popping up and giving their two cents, and Cromartie in particular has been beating an anti-Taggart drum. Nowadays, those players seem to be more involved with commentary on Twitter than the actual football program. Despite tons of former players (Derrick Brooks, Peter Warrick, Charlie Ward, etc.) all hanging around the team, guys like Cromartie and Travis Johnson and Jacobbi McDaniel argue that it isn’t happening.
There is nothing wrong with being critical of Taggart and voicing an opinion that you don’t think he’s the right coach for FSU. At the same time, if you are a former player wishing to help your team, you should probably have a better pitch than “I know this game better than your coaches.” and “(s)econdary look like crap last season and that’s because your coach can’t coach his own defense.”
It seems like an unnecessarily hostile way to try and provide your services, yes? Maybe the reason you aren’t invited back is less because of coaches doubting your football knowledge, but more so because you’ve publicly mocked their coaching abilities?
Seriously, what coaching staff at any university is going to bring back players with that mentality? Would Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban invite guys who trashed them on social media sites, where they know the people they’re talking about can’t fully respond to them?
Wanting former players back around the program is a good idea for a lot of reasons, perhaps none more important than goodwill. But even with that goal, there comes a selection process. A vocal dissident of the staff like Cromartie might not be the best person to surround players that same staff is needing to buy into their vision.
If this is how Cromartie acts on Twitter, imagine how he is in real life and what he would try to implant into the minds of younger players. Taggart is working hard to try and remove that exact “me first” mentality that turned sour at the end of the Jimbo Fisher era.
So no, not all former players are welcome back at Florida State. And that’s a good thing. If guys like Cromartie want to change their attitude, then maybe there could be a mutual understanding.
Whether or not Taggart succeeds at Florida State is up in the air. He’s certainly got more questions than answers to this point in his tenure. What will not decide his future is whether guys like Cromartie or Johnson or McDaniel — all very good former players — feel welcome back at the program. They’re obviously welcome to air their grievances on social media, but it’s hard to see it making a positive difference.