This is biting the hand that fed me, but I’ll write it anyway: In early November 2019, Florida State University (FSU) fired its head football coach, Willie Taggart, in the middle of just his second season because his record was 9-12. Taggart was only 7-5 when FSU hired him after one season at the University of Oregon. FSU paid Oregon $3 million for its trouble. In his two previous head coaching stops, Taggart had a record of just 40-45. Upon firing Taggart, FSU owed him over $17 million under his 6-year contract. Reportedly, boosters donated most of the $20 million that it cost FSU to get Taggart, then get rid of Taggart.
One of my favorite movies is 1979’s North Dallas Forty, a story about an aging football player played by Nick Nolte. His character rails against the team’s manipulative, win-at-all-costs mentality by saying, “Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game.”
I worked for 30 years in intercollegiate athletics administration at four different university programs, where I oversaw business operations. When I think of what $20 million would mean to true philanthropic causes, that just reinforces why the profession’s value system wore out its welcome with me.
For me, it had ceased to be a game, and it surely wasn’t good business.
Phil Goldstein writes Tales from Timnath periodically for North Forty News. Phil is an 11-year Timnath resident who proudly serves the Town of Timnath as chair of the Timnath Planning Commission. Phil is finally using his journalism degree after getting sidetracked 48 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column or suggestions for future columns at NFNTimnath@gmail.com.