From the very beginning of the Willie Taggart-Walt Bell relationship, both parties made it clear that Bell was coming here to run Taggart’s offense. Bell would bring some of his own ideas, but at the end of the day, his job was to take Taggart’s philosophy from paper to the field.
Even when Bell was calling plays later in the 2018 season, his mission was to follow the game plan Taggart wanted. He and Taggart made that clear in numerous interviews.
If Briles comes on board, it’s safe to say that will change. He will be running the show on offense.
Now, that doesn’t mean there are going to be widespread changes. A lot of Briles’ offensive concepts mirror what Taggart wants his offenses to look like — they both want to spread the field horizontally, punish defenses with an interior running game and use tempo to break big plays. So, this isn’t a case where Taggart would be handing the keys to someone to run an offensive system that he doesn’t believe in — or that he’s not familiar with. They believe in the same things offensively.
And while that was said to be the case with Bell, who left to become head coach at UMass, the difference here would be that Briles would likely have more autonomy when running the day-to-day operation.
Like all offensive-minded head coaches, Taggart is always going to want to have input with what happens on that side of the ball. I can’t envision a scenario where he just sits back and observes whatever his offensive coordinator dreams up. So I wouldn’t guess it will be true, 100 percent autonomy, but it would have to be close.
Why else would Briles be willing to leave Houston — where he does run the offense — for Florida State?
This past season, his Cougars offense ranked No. 4 nationally in scoring offense and No. 6 in total offense. The year before, his offense at Florida Atlantic ranked No. 8 in scoring and No. 9 in total offense. His Baylor offenses in 2015 and 2016 also ranked in the top 10 in both categories as well.
In his four years as an offensive coordinator, Briles has produced offenses that have ranked in the top 10 nationally in both major categories — points and yards per game — and he’s done it at three different schools.
So the 36-year-old assistant coach’s career clearly is soaring in an upward trajectory — despite being on the Baylor staff that was forced out amid an awful scandal two years ago. It would make no sense for him to come into this Florida State situation right now without having the power to run the offense the way he sees fit.
And to be honest, why would the Seminoles look to hire someone like Briles just to do what Bell did? There are plenty of lower-profile offensive coordinators, many of whom would come much cheaper (and without the concerns about negative press related to the Baylor scandal), if the plan was the same as it was last year.
So, if the Briles hire finally becomes a reality — or even if another high-profile coordinator came on board — we can only assume Taggart will be pulling back from the offense a bit and turning his attention to being more of a CEO-type head coach.