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Q&A with John Thrasher: FSU president talks football, finances and more

As Warchant reported on Wednesday, Florida State President John Thrasher expects changes to Willie Taggart’s coaching staff after the FSU football team finished 2018 with a 5-7 record — the Seminoles’ first losing season since 1976.

Here is the complete transcript of Wednesday’s interview between Thrasher and Warchant managing editor Ira Schoffel. In it, Thrasher talks more about the football program, what he’s planning to do with the Seminoles’ interim athletic director position, FSU’s finances and facilities, the planned ACC Network, other athletics programs on campus, and even rumors that he wouldn’t give former football coach Jimbo Fisher additional money to make changes to his coaching staff in 2017.

(Editor’s note: Some questions were edited to provide context.)

Q: The football season obviously was a struggle from start to finish, but Willie seemed so confident coming into the season. That’s been something I’ve been trying to figure out for awhile.

A: Here’s my theory about that. I think this is a big stage — it’s a big stage. And taking over under the circumstances he took over, and assembling a new coaching staff almost from scratch, and to have basically inherited the team that was left behind by Jimbo … I think they’re good kids and motivated. But clearly, it showed that recruiting, over the last few years, had not been at a high enough level in certain areas.

I think Willie came in with the right attitude and still has it. But I think it was the cards that were dealt him that got us behind the 8-ball early on. And I’m not an expert on analyzing where we need to [fix things in football], but I think he’s suggested we need to do some work on our offensive line. And any place else we can get good players. It’s like Bobby Bowden said — I’ve heard him say it many, many times — usually the team that wins is the team that has the best players. So we’re gonna work on that. I think he’s committed to working on that, and I’m committed to supporting him.

Q: Did he confide in you at any point during the season that, “Hey, this is gonna be a challenge.”

A: No, not really. You know, I went out every week to practice — that’s been my tradition since I’ve been here — and we had good conversations. But we knew what we were up against. And I remind everybody, too, you know when Jimbo left last year, he was 5-6. And we basically kept the same team with a few different players. You hope for improvement, but here’s the other thing — our schedule. You look at our schedule — three teams in the top 10 that we had to play. I think our schedule was a big part of it.

Q: So when the football program struggles like this, do you ask the head coach what his plan is? Or do you just …

A: I do. We have to. He and I have talked about that. I have to. And David [Coburn, FSU’s interim athletics director] has too, obviously. Willie’s given me kind of a broad view of what his plan is, and he’s doing some of it right now — meeting with some of his players, meeting with his assistant coaches.

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