ODELL HAGGINS: I’m standing up here at what’s a difficult time at Florida State University. It is what it is, and one of the players asked me a question. He said, Coach, how’s everything going with you. I said, you know how everything is going with me? We’re moving forward. We’re moving forward. We’re thinking about Boston College and thinking about how we’re going to prepare for them and what we need to do to go out and play Boston College. I said that’s what we’re going to do. I said that’s what Willie Taggart would want. He wouldn’t want you here sulking and crying. He would want you to move forward.
The players yesterday asked Mr. [David] Coburn questions. They were champions yesterday. Talked to them, let them know. I’ll say it again, we are Florida State. We are Florida State. We’re all we’ve got, we’re all we need. And we’re going to fight. We’re going to conquer. Exactly what I told them. And that’s what they need here.
They’re our kids, and they’re going to fight to uphold Florida State University. To listen to Mr. Coburn talk, answer their questions, I’m going to say this again, we are Florida State. President, AD, we are committed to graduating kids and winning National Championships. One thing about it, a testament to Willie Taggart, the kids came out yesterday, they ran hard, they practiced hard. The culture has changed.
Well, I know, coming up again, second time around. I think this is a blessing. God put me in this situation for a reason, because God knows in my heart what I think about our players and Florida State University. So both feet in, both hands, all gas, no brakes. Let’s go.
Q. Odell, how different is this for you knowing that besides just last time it was needing that one win to get bowl eligible, now you’ve got three to try and rally the guys to finish strong.
ODELL HAGGINS: To be honest with you, I’m not thinking about three, I’m thinking about one. Not trying to be sarcastic. I’m thinking about today, preparing, breaking film down, seeing how we’re going to stop Boston College and the things we’re going to do to prepare for Boston College. I’m not thinking about three, I’m thinking about the first one, this week of practice, preparing the kids, making sure everything is going well in the classroom, they’re going to class and practicing well and playing Boston College Saturday.
Q. Not just the football side of it, but from a personal standpoint, I’m sure it’s an emotional time for the team. How do you go about keeping the program together?
ODELL HAGGINS: Being myself and being authentic, letting the kids know how we feel about them. It’s no magical way of doing things like that. You must be yourself. You bleed Garnet & Gold, I don’t know how. God put it in my — I don’t know how.
But Odell Haggins is going to be Odell Haggins, and I’m going to speak the truth. I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear. I’m going to tell you the truth.
Q. I wanted to ask you from your vantage point why you think the wheels came off and what’s the fix?
ODELL HAGGINS: Well, you know what? That question right there, I don’t have to answer it but I’m going to answer it. We are Florida State University. We’re going to keep moving forward.
Q. What did you learn from your stint as head coach in 2017 that will help you this time around?
ODELL HAGGINS: What I learned? What to do and what not to do. No, I just learned, just keep being yourself, really, because the kids, they see — they will see if you’re not authentic, if you’re being fake. The kids will see that, so therefore I’m going to be myself and make sure I let them know it’s all about them and the university. That’s what it’s about. Just be yourself. Anything in life, if you be yourself, you’re not trying to be somebody else, you’re going to be okay.
Q. Any talks that you’ve had with the other coaches on staff, and what were those conversations like, and how are they doing over the last day or so?
ODELL HAGGINS: Yeah, some of them were stunned, but we all — we, not Odell, not the rest of the staff, we snapped back to reality, because our main thing, we’re going to keep the main thing the main thing: Those players and the university. So that’s going to snap you back to reality just like that.
You know, we all are professionals, and the administration expects us to act like professionals, so therefore we snap back to it moving forward.
Q. Last time you had some other coaches to help you with the defensive line while you kind of looked at the big picture. Will you be able to do that this time? Will Coach [Mark] Snyder help, or do you have a plan on what your role is going to be?
ODELL HAGGINS: We have a plan. I’m going to be out there coaching. I love coaching, man. I love coaching. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to help this program out, to move forward, and we’ll talk about that later, me and Mr. Coburn. We’ll talk about that later. We’ll discuss that later. But I’m going to be coaching, man. Shoot, I love coaching.
Q. Is 21 games all that football coaches are being judged by do you think now? Is it a shorter leash on head coaches because they have to win in 2019?
ODELL HAGGINS: You know, that’s a tough question for me to answer because I don’t think about that. You know what I’m thinking about? Our kids and the university moving forward and going to Boston College. Seriously, that’s a tough question. I don’t even think about that.
Q. Do you know which coach will take the vacancy for the time being to help you out, or is that a decision you have to make? And secondly, how do you handle recruiting in moments like this where you guys are sort of scrambling?
ODELL HAGGINS: We’re discussing that about the other coach and we’re going to come to some conclusion a little later, and with recruiting, we’re all in. We stayed here until about 12:30, 1:00 last night getting people on the phone, and I know other teams are hitting them, but our message, we are Florida State. Our program, we’re committed to graduating kids and winning National Championships and staying in the top five.
Q. I know obviously you’ve been an interim before, so you’ve never been a full-fledged head coach, but do you have any interest in that in the future, either at this position or another?
ODELL HAGGINS: I haven’t thought about that, seriously.
Q. I know you said you liked the coaching, the day-to-day —
ODELL HAGGINS: Whatever God has for me, that’s what I’ll do, okay. Right now he has me up here, and I’m going to say it again, our main concern, these kids. Looking forward to Boston College.
Q. Talking about Boston College, AJ Dillon, what kind of back is he and what do you have to do to slow the running game down?
ODELL HAGGINS: Oh, he’s an excellent back. He’s big. They have a very good offensive line. We’ve got to plan well, you’ve got to play low up front, you’ve got to strike blockers and play fundamentally sound football. And you’ve got to be gritty. You’ve got to bring your big boy pants because Boston College runs the ball very well.
Q. You kind of talked about this a little bit already, but just in an emotional time like this, do you worry about how the team does move forward? You said you talked to them about playing for Florida State, but are you a little bit worried about their mental state moving forward?
ODELL HAGGINS: Well, you’re always going to have concerns, but from what they showed me yesterday in the meeting and out on the practice field, the kids — you’re going to have a few come up and talk to me, but hey, we’ve just got to move forward. We can’t sit back and worry about other things outside of the program. We’ve just got to move forward and keep fighting.
Q. Do you feel like maybe they’re playing a little bit of inspired football right now maybe?
ODELL HAGGINS: Well, a testament to Willie, the kids — understand they went out yesterday and they worked hard. So therefore we’re going to play. We’re going to be ready.
Q. Coach, depending on who is hired permanently in this role, would you like to stay on at Florida State next year if everything lines up right for you?
ODELL HAGGINS: I haven’t thought about that. You all ask me hard questions. Hey, I’m going to stay on that road to Boston College. That’s where I’m going to stay. Not trying to be politically correct. That’s the road that I’m going to stay on, because sometimes we try to look so far ahead, you forget about that step you’re going to step over and fall. I’m not going to forget about that.
Q. You mentioned the team is still practicing hard and that being a testament to Willie. What did he do culturally for this program from the time he was here until now?
ODELL HAGGINS: He helped on accountability, yes. Accountability. And the team.
Q. When you’re combining the cultures of the past with Jimbo Fisher and then the one that Willie Taggart had to take over and implement his own culture, now looking at this team, what is the culture of Florida State football?
ODELL HAGGINS: The culture of Florida State football, we are Florida State University, we’ve got to get back to going and dominating football games and winning games. That’s the culture. That’s what we must do.
Q. What do you think the keys were to the success you guys had two years ago when you took over? It seemed like the team just played at a higher level than it had been playing all season. What do you think the keys were to that?
ODELL HAGGINS: You know, as a coach and as a person, you’re going out and letting them know, hey, this is what we’re going to do. As I said before, being authentic, you’re talking to the kids and letting them know what to expect and then what you expect from them. I think that’s the main focus. And letting them know it’s all about them and the university. They’ve got to believe that. And they’re going to believe that.
Q. Have you been able to put your finger on what happened last weekend in terms of maybe some of the progress that you guys have made not being there in the game, and if so, how do you kind of address that this week in practice now as you focus on Boston College and having a better performance?
ODELL HAGGINS: Well, we put that to bed yesterday. We have a 24-hour rule. We don’t talk about it after that. That’s Odell Haggins’ rule. That’s how I am as a coach and as a person. I don’t look back. That’s in the past. It’s gone. We’re moving forward to Boston College.
Q. As a follow-up to that, you mentioned how well they practiced. Do you feel like there’s a sense of urgency from the players knowing that trying to get this bowl streak started again is something that might be on the line this weekend?
ODELL HAGGINS: We’re not talking about a bowl streak. We’re not talking about all that. We’re talking about Boston College. Not trying to be sarcastic, seriously. That’s what this team is thinking about and the coaching staff. What’s next; that’s what it must be.
Q. You’re not really an offensive guy, but just the quarterback situation, we ask it every week, I know Willie used to talk to Coach [Kendal] Briles about it. What will you guys do in that situation now with the quarterback situation moving forward?
ODELL HAGGINS: We’re going to talk about it, and I’m going to leave it up to Coach Briles. We’re going to talk about it at the end of the week, and every player must go out and perform this week. I don’t care if it’s the punter, kicker, defensive lineman, defensive back. Everybody must perform. We’ll talk about it at the end of the week.
Q. What’s the number one thing you need to improve on at Boston College?
ODELL HAGGINS: I wouldn’t say improve. We need to go up there and play fundamentally sound football. That’s what we need to do. As a football team, in all three phases, special teams, offense and defense. Play fundamentally and be ready to play football. Play Florida State football. That’s what we need to do.
Q. You mentioned earlier a couple of the players — you said the players went hard in practice. Were there any players you saw specifically leading the rest of the group and just trying to get everybody up and motivated?
ODELL HAGGINS: I saw a lot of them. You know, Marvin Wilson, you saw guys, Cam Akers, he was talking. A lot of kids, they were pushing each other. You know, when I see Big Coop (Robert Cooper) out there, I see a blur. Whoa. But no, they were pretty hyped yesterday in practice.
Q. I know the circumstances are tough, but it’s twice now that the team has looked to you to be kind of a steadying force in a difficult time. As somebody who’s been here a long time and we know what it means to you, is it special to you to know that you’re held in that kind of high esteem by this university and the surrounding community?
ODELL HAGGINS: It’s very special, and I appreciate Mr. Coburn and President [John] Thrasher offering this position to me. But like I say, man, when I go into something, doing it at Florida State University, I love it. This is my school. I bleed Garnet and Gold. This school has given me a lot. That’s how I feel about it. Does that answer your question?
Q. Personnel question: Do you expect to have Cory Durden this weekend?
ODELL HAGGINS: Cory Durden is going to be okay.
Q. Defensively how do you slow down and avoid the penalties this week?
ODELL HAGGINS: Well, we’re going to go out and do our job, and like I say, fundamentally sound. If you’re fundamentally sound, doing your job, those penalties won’t happen. We’re going to make them accountable, too. You know, there’s going to be consequences. We’re not going to help the other team.
Q. Are you going to change anything at all in terms of schemes? Do you want to do anything differently than you guys have been doing it, or do you think you’ll stick with what you’ve been doing?
ODELL HAGGINS: No, we’re going to stick with what we’ve done. We’re going to move forward, and like I say, we’re going to go out there and practice on fundamentals and get after it. That’s what we’re going to do.
Q. Has Coach [Bobby] Bowden or any other coaches reached out to you and given you any advice in this situation?
ODELL HAGGINS: Yes.
He asked the question, I said yes. Coach [Mickey] Andrews, you know, he texted me. ‘Dell, don’t flinch, go get it. A lot of my guys, former players, Coach, go get it. We know you can do it. You have that Florida State pride. So we’re not concerned. You have a lot of support, Coach; go do it.
I’ll call Coach [Bowden]. He’ll start cracking a joke on me or something.
Q. What would you say to some of the fans out there that do still buy tickets, they’re booster members, but three, four years in a row are fairly disappointed in the results. What do you say to fans that keep supporting your team?
ODELL HAGGINS: Well, I’d like to say this: We love you. We love your support, and keep supporting us. It’s all about these football players and the university. Keep coming. We are Florida State. I’m going to say it again. We are committed to getting back to being in the top five every year and winning National Championships. The way we’re going to do it, as a family. Administration, football and fans, our kids feed off that energy.