Matt Kupec: Why Fire a College Football Coach During the Season?

By Matt Kupec

November 5 2019

Florida State University made big news today when they announced the firing of Head Football Coach Willie Taggert even though there still remain three games left to play in the season.  Coming of a terribly disappointing performance in a loss to Miami, and standing at a record of 4-5, the Seminoles administration made the decision to fire Taggert because as FSU President John Thrasher said, “we had no choice but to make a change.”

So, Coach Taggart gets fired just 21 games into the tenure of his six-year contract at Florida State.  He didn’t even get to finish his second season as the coach.

Why fire the head coach when the season isn’t done yet?

Don’t we preach to our student-athletes that we should never give up, never stop working and fighting to get better?   The game isn’t over until the final whistle we have heard countless times?  Don’t we believe in comebacks?

What is the purpose of a six-year contract when the Coach gets only 1 ¾ years to right the ship??

These are very important questions we must ask the leaders of higher education.  Below you will find some of the reasons why in-season coaching changes are made in football.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to money!  Big money at the Football Bowl Subdivision level!

Don’t cry for Coach Taggert.  His six-year contract was for $30 million, yes, $5 million per year.  In addition to the two years worth of compensation he has already received, Coach Tagger is due approximately $20 million for the remainder of his contract.  Oh, by the way, Florida State had to pay the University of Oregon $3M to buyout Coach Taggert’s contract from Oregon.  And, FSU was also responsible for an additional $1.3M to the University of South Florida left on a buyout when he jumped ship early to take the Oregon job.

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About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.

Matt Kupec: Was Jimmy Wolf Right That Soccer Would Become More Popular than Football?

by Matt Kupec

November 3, 2018

I need your help!

This will be one of the most gut wrenching blog posts I will ever write! Today, I will give in and admit that a prediction made by Jimmy Wolf during our Syosset High School years that “soccer would become more popular than football within ten years” might have come true!

The setting is Syosset High School in the mid-1970’s. Syosset is riding the wave of great football success under Coach John Miller. Lopsided wins become a weekly occasion and players like Kevin Mannix, Jack Miravel, Ken Bailey, Don Perfall and I were named to All-State teams. Home games in 1973 & 1974 against rival Farmingdale draw some 10,000 people to each game. A football banner recognizing the 1974 team as the #1 team in New York is hung in the gym. Football is king, at least in my eyes!

One of my best friends in high school was named Jimmy Wolf. Jimmy was smart, hardworking, athletic and very competitive. Jimmy had an infectious personality and was very popular. Jimmy was also a star soccer player at Syosset HS.

Back in those days, the soccer team played its home games on a field right outside of the high school, pretty much of a temporary field. Games were played during the weeks with small turnouts. Due to the games being played mid-week the football guys had the chance to watch of couple of games. Jim Hanophy was another friend and a star player as well so we would support the soccer team.

But Jimmy Wolf, in his competitive and somewhat confrontational way, would always tell me that “within 10 years soccer would be more popular than football.” You can imagine my responses to Jimmy’s claims. “Not a chance,” I would boost with my head held high as football was so popular in our school and the nation. “Soccer will never become more popular than football,” I would growl at Jimmy as he kept repeating his soccer claims.

But today, I am here to say to Jimmy Wolf may be right! This conclusion has been gnawing at me for years as I knew we were headed there but I just didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that a sport so popular in the rest of the world would become more popular than football in America. I love football and think it’s the greatest team sport of all! There was also a toughness that came with putting on the pads and the helmet and then battling on the field. And football seemed to be such a great community builder. But, things have been changing…….

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