The Florida State football staff has undergone a fair amount of change in the past few months. A new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, and a new wide receivers coach are in Tallahassee trying to revitalize a team that fell woefully short of expectations in 2018.
They won’t have all that much time to do so. The consensus is that after 2019, head coach Willie Taggart will need to start showing higher success, if it doesn’t happen in 2019. That’s not a guarantee that anyone is getting fired. It’s just the reality that after two seasons, you begin running out of excuses if your team isn’t performing well.
That leaves seven on-field coaches who are carried over from last year. We wanted to look at how they did from an overall perspective. That means on-field unit performance and off-field recruiting results.
A 5-7 season means any ranking will only be so optimistic. Still, we attempted to be fair when grading the coaches, and tried to separate as many extenuating factors as we could.
Only coaches who were on staff last year and this year are eligible. That means Kendal Briles, Randy Clements, and Ron Dugans cannot be ranked.
We are only ranking them based on last season alone. What they did to their careers up to this point is not relevant. This is strictly on 2018, and we expect it to change after 2019. Keep in mind as well that three coaches being ineligible to be ranked will greatly affect how the list looks.
1. Odell Haggins (Associate Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach)
No shock here. A consistently top-ranked coach retains the top spot. Haggins’ defensive line was once again a huge plus throughout the season, even if it did have some disappointing games. Although Haggins coached tackles last season, he may have had a role in defensive end Brian Burns becoming a first-round draft pick, but he certainly helped Marvin Wilson take it to the next level as a defensive tackle, while also getting shocking production out of freshmen Cory Durden and Robert Cooper.
2. Harlon Barnett (Defensive Coordinator)
The defense was anywhere from bad to average to good, depending on who you ask. There were certainly issues with optimizing talent, and it’s still a fair question of how much that can actually change with the system Barnett runs. But everyone agrees that the defense was not helped in any way, shape, or form by the offense. If it wasn’t forced to defend a short field, it was given very little time to catch its collective breath before having to go back out once again. That’s an especially tall task in the first year of a system.
If the offense can go fast in a productive way, the defense could take a surprising leap forward. The defense certainly has enough talent and depth now to shine if it is helped out even a little bit by the other half of the team.
3. Raymond Woodie (Linebackers Coach)
As an on-field coach, the jury is still out on Woodie. The linebacking corps was second only to the offensive line when it came to lacking production. There wasn’t all that much Woodie could work with. Still, he turned Dontavious Jackson into a quality starter and got contributions from DeCalon Brooks.
The main reason he’s this high up is his recruiting ability. Woodie already helped re-stock the talent with Jaleel McRae, Kalen DeLoach, and Kevon Glenn in the 2019 signing class, and the 2020 class already has a potentially program-changing amount of talent. That includes Keyshawn Greene, Stephen Dix Jr., and Jayion McCluster. While we did not factor this in to our analysis of him, it should be noted that Woodie has played a crucial role in other recruitments besides linebackers. So he’s even pulling the weight for other members in addition to his own.
4. Willie Taggart (Head Coach)
Putting him in the middle of the ranking is a slight cop-out. The truth is that Taggart is the hardest to rank out of all the coaches since it all leads back to him. If you’re going to criticize his bad hiring choices, you also need to praise the good ones. Taggart has had his fair share of stinkers — hiring Alonzo Hampton and Walt Bell are two of the bigger ones — but getting someone like Briles and Woodie is a huge positive.
On field, the team quite clearly needs work. It’s too large a topic to go into for this article, but Taggart’s team looked unusually disorganized, even for a team switching to a completely different system. He will need to clean up the penalties and the silly mental errors from his players in a big way for 2019.
For now, this is the best we can do when ranking him. It’s simply a difficult task after one season for a head coach.
5. Telly Lockette (Tight Ends Coach)
Judging tight ends in an offense where they’re hybrid wide receivers is always difficult. Thankfully for Florida State, it had a nice season from Tre’ McKitty, who stood out as a capable blocker and talented receiver. How much of that is Lockette? It’s hard to say, but this upcoming season will be a good indicator of where they stand as a unit.
Where Lockette contributes mainly is the recruiting trail. He was essential in the recruitment of guys like Dontae Lucas, Akeem Dent, Jarvis Brownlee, Maurice Smith, and Malcolm Ray. For helping save the 2019 class, Lockette should receive praise. Still, Florida State needs to get some more production from his South Florida connections.
6. Mark Snyder (Special Teams Coordinator)
Technically, Snyder coached defensive ends last year. As we all know however, he didn’t have a completely defined role, since he has coached virtually all positions on defense. Which means it’s probably a bad thing when we’re still left wondering “What exactly do you do here?”. If Snyder is helping with defensive cohesion, then it’s not really something we can fully grade. If we want to grade him on recruiting, then once again, there’s essentially nothing to grade. It’s not even clear how much recruiting he actually does.
Thankfully Snyder will be coaching special teams in 2019 with the firing of Alonzo Hampton. But that certainly won’t be his full-time role.
7. Donte’ Pimpleton (Running Backs Coach)
If you had to put money on one coach who might get fired after 2019, it’d be Pimpleton. As a running backs coach, essentially the biggest responsibility is to recruit. Running backs don’t need the same level of coaching to fulfill their potential at the college level. Factor in that Florida State’s offensive line was terrible, and no one will be seriously evaluating Pimpleton off 2018.
Instead, they will be evaluating him on the trail, where he has failed. Besides the late flip of Anthony Grant in 2018, Pimpleton has done a poor job of recruiting running backs to this point. After missing completely in the 2019 class, it was expected that his 2020 efforts would be worth it. Instead, FSU is on the outside looking in for most of its major targets. It’s to the point where other coaches are having to pick up the slack. He needs to produce now, and quickly.