Reality Check


My partner in crime at ACC Nation, Will Ojanen, shared a tweet in our on-going group chat and it’s been on my mind every since. So it’s time for a reality check.

Here is a look at that tweet.

Reality(Editor’s note – Relevant personal information removed)

Being a diehard USC fan, I was instantly confused. USC and Florida State are the same team? How? In what world? For that matter, what Universe? I can’t possibly be reading this correctly.

Besides having the same record and questionable coaching (mainly an FSU problem) this conversation dies right here. For the sake of all (to clear the air) let’s take a closer and more realistic look at both teams and their head coaches.

Reality Check – The Teams

We’ll start with the Seminoles loss to Virginia Tech to open the season. At the time the Hokies looked like a real threat to make some noise in the ACClemson, sorry, the ACC. That opening game loss was at home for Florida State so ultimately that victory meant much more for Virginia Tech.

Since then however, Virginia Tech lost to ODU, yes, Old Dominion University and are without their starting quarterback for the season. This makes that opening season loss by Florida State look much worse.

The first loss for USC came on the road against the now #7 team in the country, Stanford. To be honest, the Trojans weren’t out of the game until the fourth quarter with just over two minutes left on the clock. USC’s freshman quarterback (who should still be in high school) threw his first of two picks with the second coming in ‘garbage time’.

So, let’s take a closer look at the scoreboard. The Hokies led Florida State 17-3 at the half while USC lost to Stanford 17-3. Virginia Tech was in complete control of the game and it seemed as though the Seminoles were shooting themselves in the foot with every turn.

The second loss for both teams doesn’t even need to be broken down in detail. Florida State lost to Syracuse on the road. USC lost to Texas, also on the road. In my eyes, losing on the road at Syracuse should raise far more eyebrows than losing to Texas.

Reality Check – What About The Coaches?

Let’s take a look at the coaching. Prior to taking over their programs Willie Taggart had the edge over Clay Helton in head coaching experience. One coach has a 49-52 record and the other a 29-12 record. This speaks volumes about Taggart who is under .500 overall.

Here comes the reality check. Expecting Taggart to increase his wins because he suddenly has access to a larger talent pool and more resources is unrealistic. In fact, it’s highly doubtful.

I’ll go out on a limb and say this right now, Florida State will be looking for a new coach in three years. The impatient fan base and boosters will make sure that this experiment won’t last very long. I feel I’m being generous giving him those three years.

What about Helton? In his first full year of coaching the Trojans started off 1-3. That terrible start (and perhaps unrealistic expectations) prompted a huge portion of the USC fanbase to generate and use the hashtag, #FireHelton.

That same year though, things finally clicked for Helton and the team as they went on to win 10 games in a row. They topped it off with a win at the Rose Bowl over a red hot Penn State led by Saquon Barkley that has become an instant college football classic.

Moving Forward

Is there hope for the Seminoles? Yes, albeit a sliver but there is hope. In Helton’s second year at the helm USC went 11-3, were the PAC 12 champions and went to the Cotton Bowl. Taggart only has 1 double digit winning season to Helton’s 2. So, if we were to have a conversation as to who I’d rather have leading my program, it’s a no brainer. Without question the pick is Helton.

The coaching for both of these teams has been head scratching to say the least. Remember though, that a head coach isn’t involved in every aspect of the team. Position coaches tend to determine just how successful a program is or will be. I think there are a few that need to part ways for the benefit of each program.

Reality Check – Conclusion

In my honest opinion USC needs to move on from their OL and DB coaches. For three years we’ve seen inconsistent play and questionable development of players.

Truthfully, it’s still too early to really know who is dropping the ball among position coaches at Florida State though an early guess points to the OL. With the level of talent that the Seminoles have in the backfield and they still have not produced a 100 yard rusher four games into the season this should be very concerning.

All in all, there are far more bright spots at USC than at Florida State.

So the conjecture put forth by this one tweet is just plain wrong. When it comes to USC and FSU ‘practically’ being the same team it’s not even close. USC>FSU and as a fan of the Trojans I say to infinity and beyond.

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