Florida State nearly did the unthinkable on Saturday and let a 3-score lead slip away for a second straight game.
The Seminoles led 21-0 in the first half before allowing Louisiana-Monroe to take a 35-31 lead midway through the fourth quarter. FSU would answer and prevail in overtime, 45-44, as Louisiana-Monroe kicker Jacob Meeks missed the tying extra point.
The start to head coach Willie Taggart’s tenure has been a tumultuous one thus far. Through 14 games at FSU, Taggart is just 6-8 as a head coach. For On My Mind Monday, we decided to look at how that stacks up to other coaches that have lasted that long at Florida State.
Don Veller (1948-49): 12-2 (.857)
Jimbo Fisher (2010): 10-4 (.714)
Larry Jones (1971-72): 10-4 (.714)
Bobby Bowden (1976-77): 7-7 (.500)
Tom Nugent (1953-54): 7-7 (.500)
Bill Peterson (1960-61): 5-7-2 (.429)
Willie Taggart (2018-19): 6-8 (.429)
Darrell Mudra (1974-75): 2-12 (.167)
Topping the list is Don Veller, who took over in the program’s second year of existence after the Seminoles went 0-5 in 1947 under head coach Ed Williamson. In 1950, Veller delivered FSU its first perfect season before going 1-8-1 in 1952 and ultimately stepping down.
The next best records through 14 games belong to Larry Jones and Jimbo Fisher. Jones took over for Bill Peterson, who led the Seminoles to their first ranked finish in 1964 and a national ranking in three of his final seven seasons.
Jones got off to a strong start, going 15-8 in his first two seasons before a dismal 0-11 campaign in 1973. Fisher was promoted to head coach in 2010 after three years as offensive coordinator and took a team that had finished 7-6 three times in four seasons to 10 wins for the first time since 2003.
Fisher led FSU to three straight ACC titles from 2012-14, including one national championship. From 2012 to 2016, the Seminoles won 10 games every year under Fisher. Fisher ultimately left late in the 2017 season after just a 5-6 start. With defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins as interim, the Seminoles would defeat Louisiana-Monroe and ultimately Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl.
The man that Fisher replaced was legendary Bobby Bowden. Bowden inherited a program that had won four games total in three years prior to his arrival, went 5-6 in his first season and never had a losing record again. Bowden would win two national championships, 11 straight bowl games from 1985 to 1995 and finished in the top 5 in 14 straight seasons from 1987 to 2000.
Bowden would ultimately retire after the losing at least four games in each of his final six seasons. FSU finished 7-6 in 2006, 2007 and Bowden’s final season of 2009.
Also 7-7 through 14 games was Veller’s replacement, Tom Nugent. Nugent took over in 1953 after a disappointing final season under Veller and went 5-5 in his first season. After an 0-2 start in 1954, FSU won eight of its final 10 games to tie a school record at the time with eight victories. Nugent spent six years at FSU and left with a winning record. Peterson replaced Perry Moss who went 4-6 in his only season of 1959.
On even footing with Taggart is Bill Peterson, who left Florida State as the most accomplished coach in program history. Peterson stumbled through the early parts of his tenure with three losing seasons in his first four years before leading the Seminoles to a No. 11 national ranking, their first win ever over Florida and a Gator Bowl victory over Oklahoma in 1964. Peterson would spend 11 years in Tallahassee before leaving for Rice in 1971.
Taggart inherited some significant cultural issues, which have been well-documented here, but the results through 14 games have not been pleasing. Under Taggart, FSU owns its two largest blown leads in program history and the largest home and ACC loss in program history.
In 2018 under Taggart, FSU suffered its first losing season since 1976 and missed a bowl for the first time since 1981. Under Taggart, FSU has been one of the most penalized teams in the country. Although cultural issues played a role, Taggart did inherit an FSU program that was two years removed from an Orange Bowl victory and a top-10 national ranking.
The coach with the worst record through 14 games was Bowden’s predecessor, Darrell Mudra. Mudra lasted just two seasons in Tallahassee, going 4-18 overall. It is worth noting that in 1973, Mudra’s only win came over Miami. Three years after leaving FSU, Mudra won a Division II national championship at Eastern Illinois.