What could you do with $18-million?

View of Doak Campbell Stadium at FSU Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Florida State University Athletic Director David Coburn confirmed Monday that fired FSU football coach Willie Taggart would get a buyout of about $18-million.

That’s right, $18-million.

The original deal was a six-year contract worth $30-million, through Jan. 31, 2024, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

That kind of money could help struggling students who need tutoring; provide more college scholarships – rather than loans — to kids; give more money to adjunct profs who get abysmal pay. That kind of money could boost public school teacher salaries – Florida teachers are 46th in the nation when it comes to average pay. Those educators shape students who go on to college.

It isn’t clear what will happen with Taggart’s successor: Should there be a six-year contract for the new coach? Or a shorter contract?  Should football coaches continue to get contracts worth tens of millions, or should college athletes start earning outside income while playing their sports.

There are more questions than answers at this point, and Taggart’s abrupt firing has created a mixture of emotions for fans, Florida residents and FSU, with social media chiming in with positive and negative comments.

FSU Athletic Director David Coburn. Credit: YouTube.

At a news conference Monday, athletic director Coburn said, “It was a rough weekend.”

He said, “I had to fire a friend yesterday,” and, “It was a pretty emotional conversation.”

Coburn said FSU will engage a firm to hire a new coach, and that the Seminole Boosters will be involved.

“We’re asking them for money; they’re going to have a role,” Coburn said.

Diane Roberts is an 8th generation Floridian born in Tallahassee and the author of “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.” (Roberts also is a columnist for Florida Phoenix.)

Roberts wrote in an email to the Phoenix: “Big-time college football is a cabal run by rich white men whose emotional well-being is far too tied up in a game played by 19 and 20 year-old boys. The Boosters can’t fire the players, so they fire the coach–in this case, too soon. Willie Taggart wasn’t given enough time to turn the program around, especially given the nasty, dysfunctional culture bequeathed him by the last coach, the venal Jimbo Fisher.  Like the rest of the die-hard Seminoles, I want to win–but not at all costs. Taggart actually cared about the education of young men. I wish the Boosters did.”

As to who will be the next FSU head football coach, Coburn said,  “We’re looking for somebody that can win national championships. I don’t have an explicit set of criteria other than that. But we’re going to win. We’re going to get back to the standard of Florida State University football. That’s what’s going to happen.”

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.