Madison Social “Tailgate” Region (Sports) Round One
Love it or hate it, we all know sports play a massive role within the culture of our University. With Madison Social being the host of this self-deemed “Tailgate” Region, all of the big names will be covered, but this bracket will also shed light on a few smaller individuals or programs that are involved with the Florida State athletics- stories that may have gotten swept under the rug due to either the Men’s Basketball Team’s magical March Madness run, or when Jimbo “Voldemort” Fisher decided to give up on FSU halfway through the football season. Yes, Jimbo Fisher will be referred to as Voldemort or “He Who Must Not Be Named” for the entirety of this bracket. Let’s grab the first drink of “the challenge,” learn a lot, and get our SPORT on.
(1) Willie Taggart vs. (8) FSU Swimming/Diving
Willie Taggart has become a household name lately, as the young, fun-loving, and experienced recruiter is taking over an FSU Football program that had its heart ripped out and thrown into the trash, by, you guessed it, Lord Voldemort. You can read about Willie Taggart every-other day so let’s highlight his opponent’s achievements this year. Not only did the Noles dominate in the pool, winning six medals at the 2018 Canadian National Championships they also killed it in the classroom. Florida State had 10 student-athletes from the men’s and women’s Swimming and Diving team make All-ACC Academic Teams, with Natalie Pierce, Tayla Lovemore, Blaire Mulka, Ayla Bonniwell, and Molly Carlson make it from the women’s team, and Tyler Roberge, Nate Samson, Griffin Alaniz, Cameron Thatcher, and Joshua Davidson for the men’s team. It was a fantastic year for FSU Swimming/Diving, but it is going up against a man who is credited for bringing in more Spring Game attendees that Miami’s regular season attendance average. Willie Taggart is currently the face of Florida State athletics, so needless to say he is going to be a tough out.
Winner: Willie Taggart
(4) Mike Martin vs. (5) Odell Haggins
If there is one bright spot of the 2017 football season, it was Odell Haggins – the assistant coach who took over for Lord Voldemort at the end of the season. Coach Haggins, a staple of Florida State’s football culture (he literally still won’t drink Gatorade because of how much he loves Florida State) since he was a player in 1988, has been an assistant coach starting in 1994 after a short stint playing in the NFL, and led Florida State to a bowl game for the 36th year in a row – a new NCAA record. For those of you outside of college football bowl culture, a team needs to have at least six wins to become eligible for a bowl game, and then a team needs to get invited to bowl that has an open spot (the latter part has never been a problem for Florida State because of its perennial success as a football program). After He Who Must Not Be Named left for Texas A&M, Odell had some work to do, as a 5-6 record with one game to play turned into a 7-5 winning season after knocking off the University of Louisiana at Monroe (to seal the NCAA record) and the University of Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl. So yes, Haggins had a massive year as his undefeated head coaching record will go down in FSU sports history. Unfortunately for him, he goes against an even bigger staple to FSU sports culture, head baseball coach Mike Martin.
For those like me, who don’t pay all that much attention to college baseball, Mike Martin is on the verge of accomplishing something massive, and by the time you are reading this he may have already accomplished it. Coach Martin is one win away from becoming the all-time winningest head coach in NCAA college baseball history. This is a major accomplishment in any sport, as he will be the newest face of college baseball coaching. Although he hasn’t gotten there yet, it will inevitably happen this season as FSU Baseball just needs one win with eleven regular season games left.
On one hand I love the feel good story of Odell Haggins and the triumphant redemption he brought FSU Football after the “nose-less wizard,” left them out to dry, but I cannot ignore the massive accomplishment Mike Martin will achieve (most likely later this week – FSU travels to Clemson for a three game series starting May 5th). Coach Martin moves on by a hair.
Winner: Mike Martin
(3) FSU Women’s Basketball vs. (6) Ka’Tia Seymour
FSU Women’s Basketball started off their season strong, as they hoped to build on their NCAA Tournament Elite Eight run they had a year ago. They had a strong regular season, where they went 26-7 finishing number 14 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and entered the NCAA Tournament
just like last season, as a 3-seed. Their past tournament experience boded well for the Lady Noles, but a second round matchup versus a pesky 11-seed in the University at Buffalo led FSU to an early exit. On the other hand, FSU Track & Field sprinter Ka’Tia Seymour had one of the best freshman years in FSU history. Coming off a heartbreaking senior high school season where she had to cut her season short due to an injury, Seymour busted onto the college track scene as she took home the Women’s Track MVP at the ACC Indoor Championships and is the first Seminole since Sheryl Covington in 1993 to qualify for the National Indoor Championships in both the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. Seymour’s strong performance as just a freshman will propel her to greatness not only during this years outdoor season, but for the rest of her college career. Unfortunately for the Women’s Basketball Team, it will once again be an early exit as Seymour’s accomplishments shines a light on her bright future as a Nole. If this was last year, it would be a different story for the Women’s Basketball Program.
Winner: Ka’Tia Seymour
(2) FSU Men’s Basketball vs. (7) FSU Men’s Track & Field
FSU Men’s Track & Field team is having a massive year as well, and it can still get better. Just last week, the Seminoles cracked the top ten of the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association computer rankings, ranking in at number seven. Although they fell this past week three spots to number ten, they are still having one of their best season yet. Behind one of the nations best triple jumpers, Armani Wallace and a stellar 4×100 relay team of Darryl Haraway, Andre Ewers, Darryl Gay, and Edward Clark – who finished fourth overall at the National Relay Championships this year – FSU Men’s Track and Field team will look to push the program to new heights. Speaking of new heights (ahh, a beautiful segway) the FSU Men’s Basketball team was not only one of the tallest teams in the nation, they reached new heights in terms of basketball success. With their magical Elite Eight run just a month ago, the Florida State Men’s Basketball Program captured and enamored the country as they were just five points away from advancing to the national semifinals. Although the FSU Men’s Track & Field team is doing quite spectacularly they don’t come close to the cultural spark the FSU Men’s Basketball Team provided to Florida State.
Winner: FSU Men’s Basketball
Madison Social Region (Sports) Round Two
(1) Willie Taggart vs. (4) Mike Martin
Florida State baseball currently sits at 31-14, ranked 16th in the nation and the head coach Mike Martin is one of the most appreciated characters on Florida State’s campus. He is a seven-time ACC coach of the year, and as mentioned earlier he is one win away from being the winningest coach in college baseball history. By the end of the season Coach Martin will be the winningest coach in college baseball, and might even get the Noles their 23rd College World Series, but it seems no one is talking about it. Yes, the Tallahassee and Florida sports media conglomerate is definitely talking about it, but are they talking about it as much as Willie Taggart? Willie Taggart – the supposed savior of Florida State Football, and the man that has taken the latest recruiting class from the bottom of the barrel (as the team lost six blue chip recruits after the departure of Lord Voldy, and dropped from a top-10 class to a top-60 class), to be ranked number eleven come national signing day on February 7th. The Taggart-train is almost sold out as even an all-time record from Mike Martin can’t derail the media and fan frenzy surrounding the new head football coach in “Taggart-hassee.”
Winner: Willie Taggart
(2) FSU Men’s Basketball vs. (6) Ka’Tia Seymour
This won’t be the last time we hear of Ka’Tia Seymour in the realm of Florida State athletics, as she is even making her teammates better. Her and her close friend and running partner, Jayla Kirkland are sizably the same person on the track as the two virtually tied in the 60-meter dash at the ACC Indoor Championships this spring. In an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat Kirkland said, “It’s great to have someone to train with that you have to compete against on your same level. We just push each other to reach our goals,” referring to Seymour. The two’s performances at Clemson University in February were a huge help in FSU’s triumph in winning a third ACC Indoor Championship. With Seymour excelling in the 60-meter and the 200-meter early in her college career, she has an extremely bright future here at Florida State, but this is probably the first time you are hearing about her. This is why the FSU Men’s Basketball team dominates this matchup, as their season and run in March eclipsed all of the other sports stories in Tallahassee. They won the hearts of Florida State students and fans for the span of a month, as their accomplishments cannot be overlooked. Even their regular season games were all the rage – something that I have not experienced during all of my four years here at FSU. FSU Men’s B-Ball heads back to the Elite Eight.
Winner: FSU Men’s Basketball
Madison Social Region (Sports) Winner to the Final Four
(1) Willie Taggart vs. (2) FSU Men’s Basketball
After Lord Voldemort casted a death spell on Florida State’s football program in the fall of 2017, these two competitors offered us two things. The first being Willie Taggart, the symbolic Harry Potter – the coach who not only “lived,” but resurrected the thought-to-be-dead recruiting class of 2018. Taggart brought excitement into the air of Tallahassee, as fans treated the Spring Game just a few weeks ago as blast back into the hopeful and naive attitudes of late August early September. The second being a distraction of success – the Men’s Basketball Team was not as successful during the regular as the team that preceded it just a year before, but there was something special about this group of young men as their cohesion not only lifted the spirits of the entirety of the March Madness tradition, but it also lifted the spirits of many, many disappointed and empty sports fans residing in Tallahassee. Although Willie Taggart did manage to attract 53,974 fans to attend a scrimmage versus our own team in the middle of spring, he’ll still have to prove himself this coming fall – something the Men’s Basketball Team did just a few weeks ago. Alas, the decision must be made on who will advance to the Final Four, and I have to say it only seems appropriate to grant it to the competitor who was just 5-points away from getting there just a month prior. Congratulations to Coach Leonard Hamilton and Co., it may not be the first bracket you had in mind, but nonetheless, you’re heading to the Final Four!
Winner: FSU Men’s Basketball Team