ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit believes one of the country’s historically great programs has a “culture” problem in need of fixing.
Florida State achieved great highs under Jimbo Fisher, winning the national title in 2013. The Seminoles made it back to the College Football Playoff the following season. FSU then starting going downhill, losing three games in back-to-back seasons before going 5-6 in 2017.
The Tallahassee program hired Willie Taggart in 2018. The former Oregon coach lasted less than two seasons, going 5-7 in 2018 and 4-5 in 2019 before getting fired.
Now, Florida State is led by former Memphis coach Mike Norvell. Herbstreit believes the head coach needs to fix the program’s “culture” issue.
Herbstreit explained his thoughts on the latest episode of the CFB Podcast with Herbie, Pollack and Negandhi
“I’ve (covered) a ton of Florida State games since (Jameis Winston) was there beyond. And I think that they had a culture problem when Jimbo was there, and I think it became more about me and less about we. I think it was all about getting to the league, and I think the first time they would lose a game they lost the team,” Herbstreit said, per 247Sports. “Because he could get them to buy into, ‘Hey we’re gonna go to the national championship,’ and then as soon as they would lose a game that would go off the rails now it was they’re more focused on themselves and their individual status. And I think that started to happen when Jimbo’s there, and then I think that’s what (Willie Taggart) inherited. And I think Willie tried to change that, and I remember calling a game, Virginia Tech it was a labor day night game… and I remember talking to the players about that. And (former FSU defensive end) Brian Burns was in the room, who’s in the NFL now, and he and he said, ‘Man we we had an issue with guys that were more focused on their individual careers, we’ve got that all out of here, we’re focused on the team now,’ and that was a first game before Willie Taggart had coached a game. And then I kind of saw a lot of the same characteristics and personality. So that’s almost like a cancer that’s come into Tallahassee.”
Herbstreit added that Norvell has his work cut out for him.
“And so Mike Norvell, beyond just trying to call the right play and trying to pick the right quarterback in James Blackman and trying to score, he’s trying to steer a Titanic and get Florida State to buy into his system of, ‘Hey we got to win games. And when we win games, guys, the NFL scouts are going to come.’ You know all that stuff individually is going to work itself out, but if we’re 5-7 nobody’s really going to care unless you’re just an individual freaky talent.’ So I think it remains to be seen if he can do that, but I like him on a personal level. I like what he did at Memphis. I like his energy and how he coached. He ran into a little bit of a dead end there when he said that he, you know, during this covid and everything was going on with you know the social unrest. He said, you know, ‘Hey I’ve talked with my team.’ And Marvin Wilson came out and said, ‘Woah, woah, woah you didn’t talk to us.’ Whatever that was, maybe he sent a text and Marvin Wilson came out publicly and questioned him. I think they patched that up, but he’s got to try to get the reins of this program and get it…to me if they can do that, forget win totals, if they could just get back to loving each other, and caring about each other, and caring about the Florida State tradition and the pride of going back to Charlie Ward and Warrick Dunn; all these great teams, Derrick Brooks, they had so many awesome players over the years. If they can get back to loving that and not themselves, then I think that that would be a win to me for 2020 Florida State.”
It’s been several years since Florida State was competing at the national level. It would be nice to see the Seminoles back in College Football Playoff contention in the coming years.
Florida State is set to open its 2020 season on Saturday against Georgia Tech.
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