The Daily Nole

Hiring of Taggart Puts FSU in Rare Company in Terms of Diversity

Clint Eiland/The Daily Nole

The despair of the loss of Jimbo Fisher has turned to excitement about the future of the Florida State football program as Oregon’s Willie Taggart was officially named the new head coach on Wednesday.

We’ve previously discussed what Taggart brings to the table and will likely expound on that plenty as the days and months come. Along with the excitement of the dawning of a new era, the hiring of Taggart has significance that goes far beyond the X’s and O’s.

With the addition of Taggart, FSU becomes the only Power 5 program to have both a black head football coach and a black men’s basketball coach in Leonard Hamilton. In fact, among FBS programs, only East Carolina and Bowling Green can say the same.

Taggart also becomes just the fifth full-time black head coach in the ACC, joining former Miami coach Randy Shannon, former Wake Forest coach Jim Caldwell, former Virginia coach Mike London and current Syracuse head coach Dino Babers. Miami, which had Shannon and Frank Haith serve, is the only other ACC program ever to have both a black head football coach and basketball coach at the same time.

Now in his 16th season, Hamilton is the longest tenured basketball coach in FSU history and the winningest. Although Hamilton hasn’t always been the most beloved coach with the fan base, he has led the team to five NCAA Tournament appearances, 14 winning seasons and is a 2-time ACC Coach of the Year.

Taggart will certainly be judged on his performance, but the perception that the opportunities for African-Americans in certain professions, including coaching, are limited is very much real. It’s been a concern across the sports spectrum for quite some time, leading to the implementation of the “Rooney Rule” in the NFL with other sports administering similar rules.

In total, Taggart is currently just one of 12 black FBS head coaches. With 130 FBS schools, that amounts to just 9 percent of the coaching landscape in a country where African Americans represent about 14 percent of the population and in a sport where about 54 percent of the players are black.

When it comes to college athletics, there is also the chatter of the “old money” or booster systems being reluctant to embrace black coaches. It’s nice to see that Florida State, which also has a black athletic director in Stan Wilcox, is above that.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

One Comment

  1. finance85

    December 6, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Wilcox is not a good AD. The program succeeds because of a long tradition and competent people in the Department, not because of Wilcox’s leadership. He’s a bargain hunter instead of investor.

    Taggart does bring diversity, but that’s rarely a reason to hire a coach. Does it give him an advantage with some recruits? Of course. Is it good for perception of the university? Yes, but for the reason pointed out in the article. FSU wanted the best guy for the job, and race WASN’T an issue.

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