Blackman threw for 421 yards in his first start of the 2018 season.
Curt Weiler, Tallahassee Democrat
Florida State football could really use some good news.
Even a hint of positive sentiments, pretty please.
Willie Taggart is upbeat as they come, can see a silver lining in the darkest cloud, a master at rebuilding programs who promises to return FSU to national prominence.
But why does it feel like the second-year head coach is taking the long way home?
Wednesday left fans perplexed and worried after website Noles247 reported FSU quarterback James Blackman has started the process of putting his name in the NCAA transfer portal.
This popular contraption is a new system that allows a student to inform his or her current school of a desire to transfer.
This doesn’t mean Blackman intends to transfer – he can always withdraw his name at any time – but it does allow a player to communicate with coaches from other programs and test their worth.
It may also be viewed as an avenue for players to better understand what they have on this side of the fence.
Not to read between any lines, however, but this decision, if true, certainly suggests Blackman’s not thrilled with his current situation.
Add that optic to Taggart’s misses during December’s early- signing period – the Seminoles’ class is currently ranked 17th nationally by 247Sports – and the silence on expected additional coaching moves, it’s easy to see why fans are squirming.
And it’s only mid-January.
Redshirt senior Deondre Francois surprised some within the program and returned to FSU this month. Taggart named Francois the 2018 starter at the end of preseason camp over Blackman and Bailey Hockman, who bypassed the soon-to-be available portal and immediately transferred.
FSU’s third scholarship quarterback on the roster is Jordan Travis, a transfer from Louisville who will have to qualify for a hardship waiver to be eligible to play this season.
Why would Blackman, a starter his freshman season in place of an injured Francois, want to enter the transfer portal and explore his options? That is if he intends to follow through – it can take up to two days before his name appears in the portal.
Better yet, why in the world would Blackman, who played in one game last season but met redshirt requirements, want to transfer and sit out another season? And what does this say about Blackman, described by his peers as the ultimate teammate and a leader? Can he be fully vested in the FSU program during ongoing workouts as he’s being recruited by coaches from other schools?
Taggart’s allegiance to Francois last season was obvious, but how will the quarterbacks fit into new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ spread system? The Seminoles last season ranked among the worst Power Five teams in total offense, rushing offense and scoring offense. Briles likes extraordinarily wide splits that often prevents defenses from making quick adjustments. He also wants to establish the run. He wants his quarterbacks to make good decisions.
A new set of eyes on Blackman should be a good thing, right? Or maybe Blackman simply believes the system doesn’t fit his strengths?
Too many questions and not enough answers – at the moment.
Many former FSU players I have talked to share similar views, however. They want players on the roster who want to be here and want to compete. Players will say they also want a fair shake and see an avenue to potential playing time. Coaches, in turn, must be honest with players as well. Bottom line, there are players who transfer to find a better fit. It has been going on for years. Now it’s just easier and far more transparent.
Yet, there is risk to simply exploring the market under these new rules, too.
A program can pull a player’s scholarship once he voluntarily enters his name in the transfer portal. Not to say that’s ever going to happen, but losing players to the transfer portal depletes a team such as FSU of potential starters and key depth. Blackman is both. Personally, I don’t think Blackman will be looked upon any differently by his teammates or fans if he remains at FSU. Or if he pulls the plug on entering the portal.
It’s a game and, even at the amateur level, a business for players.
For whatever reason, though, Wednesday’s news left a strange vibe across Seminole Nation.
FSU football could really use some good news.
I wonder what Willie’s thinking?