November 4, 2019 - by
David Coburn Press Conference

DAVID COBURN: I’ll start by saying that it was a rough weekend, as I’m sure you can imagine. I had to fire a friend yesterday, and that was very difficult. I talked to the players, as you know. They were I would say surprised and disappointed but not inappropriate. Coach [Odell] Haggins talked to them. I think they had a good conversation. We are getting, in my view, very good leadership from people like Marvin Wilson and Cam Akers right now, and that’s very important to this team.

With that, I’ll take questions.

Q. To start the conversation with Odell [Haggins] and setting that up, what’s the thought process and everything going forward for these next few games?
DAVID COBURN: Well, we thought Odell having done it before and with his tenure here was the appropriate person. He naturally wanted to talk to his wife, and fortunately she agreed. I expect Odell is going to do just fine moving forward.

Q. Why make the decision now to let go of Coach [Willie] Taggart, and was he able to meet with the team to say goodbye to them?
DAVID COBURN: The timing was — to take the second question first. The timing was a little difficult for that. I made the offer, and he indicated that he would like to do that, but he wanted to get his thoughts together. We were going right in to meet with the coaches and then the players.

As far as I’m concerned, that offer stands.

In terms of doing it now, we looked at the pluses and minuses, and we didn’t really see any upside to waiting. We wanted to go ahead and get started with a search, see if we could get somebody in here ready to go as quickly as possible. Frankly, 6-6 isn’t good enough, and we didn’t see an advantage to waiting until the end.

Q. David, has there been any sort of finalized buyout, and if not, what do you think the timeline would be for that?
DAVID COBURN: I have no idea what the timeline is going to be. It has not been finalized. We’ll be in discussions on that for a while one would imagine.

Q. Were there factors that are new in college football such as the early signing date and/or the portal? Does that enter into accelerating timelines in college football for these types of decisions?
DAVID COBURN: Well, I think there’s been a lot of discussion about that in the literature lately. I think it does. I think we want to be able to have somebody ready to recruit. There are going to be a lot of schools out there looking for coaches. There are every year once the season ends. And our feeling was if we could get positioned and be ready to hit the ground running, it would be a significant advantage.

Q. Yesterday on Twitter, Coach Taggart tweeted out a little statement saying he was obviously disappointed with the decision, but he didn’t say anything about being surprised. Were there communications going on? Did he realize what he needed to accomplish and how far away he was from those and how tenuous his job was?
DAVID COBURN: Yeah, we had had several very explicit conversations.

Q. You’ve been up front about some of the financial challenges that this athletic department has. Why then was this a financially prudent decision to make?
DAVID COBURN: Well, I think when you look at what the costs were going forward in terms of the revenue, season ticket sales and booster support, when you do the numbers, it just made more sense to go ahead and do this. We looked at it hard. Not an easy decision, believe me.

Q. And that was my question for you is financially, what numbers did you crunch? Are the boosters telling you they’re not going to contribute? Is it season ticket sales? What all is involved in that financial equation?
DAVID COBURN: Oh, yeah. I mean, Andy [Miller] is running out the door, but no, the questions were all asked about season ticket sales, about booster contributions attached thereto. We looked at it pretty thoroughly.

Q. Do you have a timeline for when you want to have a coach hired?
DAVID COBURN: Well, I’d like to have a coach in place ready to go when the season ends, if not before.

Q. There have obviously been critics that say you guys didn’t give Willie Taggart enough time. What do you say to that, and what do you say to prospective coaches and their agents that want to know how much time they would get at this job?
DAVID COBURN: Well, there’s a lot of ways to measure what was happening with the team. I thought that at the beginning of the season we were making progress. Clemson was a disappointment, and I just felt and the president felt that since then, we just have not looked very good. And I thought frankly that the Miami game was eerily similar to the Virginia Tech game in many ways.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what the process is going to be for looking for the new coach? Would you look at an outside firm for assistance —
DAVID COBURN: Yeah, we’re going to engage a firm.

Q. And how much of that will be between — how much discussion between yourself, President [John] Thrasher, Ed Burr? Is that kind of the circle that’s going to be deciding this?
DAVID COBURN: Yes, and the boosters are going to be involved. Yeah. I mean, we’re asking them for money, they’re going to have a role in this.

Q. Last time when Coach Haggins stepped in, it seemed like he really rallied the entire athletic department and the university, the football program altogether. Do you think this challenge is going to be a little bit more difficult because this wasn’t a coach leaving but a coach that was dismissed, and what kind of support can you give him to kind of make this happen?
DAVID COBURN: Look, I don’t want him to get his head any bigger than it already is, but he — he’ll stick my wife on me. He’s going to do just fine. He did a great job the last time. You can ask him about the difference. I’m not going to put words in his mouth. But I can tell you this: He’s going to have all the support of everybody in this building because that’s a beloved figure. Sometimes I wonder why, but it is a beloved figure.

Q. A lot of people are asking what’s next for Florida State football. What are you looking for in the next head coach here?
DAVID COBURN: Well, we’re looking for somebody that can win National Championships. I don’t have an explicit set of criteria other than that, and I’m going to look at every option I can find. 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.

Q. When Jimbo [Fisher] stepped down, there was some holdover from his staff into this staff. What do you foresee happening? Obviously you don’t know right now which direction the Selection Committee will go, but are you expecting some holdover, some continuity, or what is the expectation?
DAVID COBURN: That’s going to be up to the new head coach just as it always is. I expect there will be some combination of people leaving and people staying. But again, that’s trying to read tea leaves. It’ll be up to the new head coach.

Q. I know it was already postponed, but the buyout and subsequent coaching hire, would that postpone the football operations center further than it already is?
DAVID COBURN: Hopefully not. I think once we figure out the buyouts and the new salaries, then we’ll just have to take a step back and see where we are.

Q. You and President Thrasher aren’t going to be in this role for 10 years —
DAVID COBURN: You can say that again.

Q. How did that fact and your upcoming retirement factor into the decision of what you guys will do going forward?
DAVID COBURN: It didn’t factor into the decision at all. I mean, this is something you do in the best interest of the university.

Q. I’m sure this is a question for the head coach, but the current assistant coaching staff that Willie hired, how is that going to play out? Will some of them be gone and some replaced or how will that work?
DAVID COBURN: What I told them yesterday when I met with them is we’re not contemplating any further changes in the coaching staff. Now, we do have an opening — Odell and I have a lot of things we’re going to talk about, that opening being one of them.

Q. Can you go through what you went through when you determined this was in the university’s best financial interest?
DAVID COBURN: Well, you have to look at season ticket sales, renewals, new tickets moving forward. Obviously those are tied to booster contributions to the annual fund. You’re looking at the implications for concessions, parking, all of that. When you look at that vis-a-vis cost of a buyout, cost of a new coaching staff, and you have to make a decision based on what the numbers show you over a number of years.

Q. Can you go over some of those numbers, the numbers of the buyout exactly, how much everything —
DAVID COBURN: Not off the top of my head, no.

Q. Can you give us a roundabout or what it might cost coming up?
DAVID COBURN: Willie’s is probably around 18 (million), and you know, decisions have to be made on that. And then the rest of the coaching staff, it’s going to depend on who goes and who stays.

Q. Just kind of a general question, but how will the introduction of the FSUAA this year kind of change how you go through the process as far as finding a new coach?
DAVID COBURN: Probably not a great deal. I mean, I think we would have run this pretty much the same way. But clearly we are committed to booster involvement. You might attribute that, but I wouldn’t. We would have had them involved either way.

Q. I know you talked about it earlier, but morale of the team, obviously this is an age of the transfer portal. What was the reaction of the guys in the team, and as you guys do look towards winning National Championships, can that be accomplished by keeping this group here right now?
DAVID COBURN: Well, we clearly want to keep this group here right now, and we want to keep the group of recruits that we have committed. I think Coach has been burning the midnight oil working on both of those. He’s probably better qualified to answer that question about the players, so I’ll leave that to him.

Q. I was just curious, did you have any contact leading up to this firing from either the trustees because the meeting was late last week or heard from any elected officials? Was there any pressure coming from —
DAVID COBURN: The governor made this call.

Q. No, but I’m serious, you had a meeting with trustees late last week, you had an athletic association meeting. Were you hearing things from donors saying we weren’t going to give unless you made this move?
DAVID COBURN: Oh, I hear that every week after every loss, that they’re not going to give any more until something happens. Now, do I talk to trustees at the board of trustees meetings? Yes. The feedback was mixed I would say. But that was before the Miami game.

In terms of pressure from the trustees, no. Conversations, yes. Pressure, no.

Q. I was curious how Willie handled it, how the conversation with Willie went.
DAVID COBURN: Like a gentleman, as I expected. It was a pretty emotional conversation for both of us I would say. But he handled it very well.

Q. Some folks in the national media talk about the way the boosters and the athletic department were configured and now you have the FSUAA coming. Is there anything unique about this university and the importance of football that made this a defensible decision that the timing was fair and this was a move you had to make, that they’re not aware of, something unique to Florida State?
DAVID COBURN: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I don’t think the new structure had anything to do with it. I think it was our view of — it’s a lot of factors, obviously. I mean, it’s a complicated decision, our view of how the team was doing, and obviously W’s and L’s matter.

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