Leverage is important in business, kids.
Willie Taggart went just 7-5 in his one season at Oregon, but the fact that he had spent just one season in Eugene was particularly useful for him when Florida State came calling in the winter of 2017. Taggart grew up a Seminoles fan, dreaming of one day playing for the ‘Noles and then, when that didn’t happen, of coaching the Florida State football team.
So while there was no doubt Taggart wanted to be Jimbo Fisher’s replacement — and it didn’t hurt that his Oregon contract was quite buyout-friendly — Florida State would have to really make it worth his while. He had a job, one that he liked and one that he’d recently taken. Taggart was willing to take the egg on his face requisite to leaving a head coaching job after just one season, but Florida State would have to pay up for him to do it.
Pay up they did: a 6-year, $30 million deal, $25.5 million of which was guaranteed.
The Taggart era, as we know, was a disaster. Florida State went 5-7 in Year One and fired him after a 4-5 start to Year Two. Even though his buyout was quite high, Florida State was so soured on Taggart that the school pulled the plug after one and three-quarters seasons, concluding his tenure with a worse-than-it-looked 9-12 record.
Now, more than a year later, we know Florida State paid Taggart nearly as much not to coach its football team as it did Mike Norvell to coach the team.
According to documents obtained by Warchant, Florida State agreed to pay Taggart $4.25 million annually through Jan. 31, 2024, while at the same time paying Norvell a pre-pandemic $3.75 million in 2020.
Taggart’s buyout included an offset clause that reduced the owed amount by any money the coach earned in a new job. Now the head coach at Florida Atlantic, Taggart earns $750,000 per year over the life of his 5-year deal, knocking FSU’s bill down to $3.498 million. Norvell agreed to a near $500,000 pay cut to due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the final 2020 scorecard looking like this:
Norvell, Florida State pay: $3.75 million
Taggart, Florida State pay: $3.498 million
Taggart, Florida Atlantic pay: $750,000
It will take until 2023 for Norvell to equal Taggart’s original buyout figure, at which point Taggart then falls off FSU’s books.