Tale Of Two Teams: FAMU Rattlers Number One While FSU Sinks Below The Rest

Oct 21, 2019

FAMU's football team has been on a winning streak lately.
Credit Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

Once NCAA champions, The FSU Seminoles can’t seem to win this year. The most recent loss was to Wake Forest. But as FSU struggles, less than a mile away, the Florida A&M University Rattler's are triumphing this season, becoming top in their division.

Florida State University started is 2019 football season with a defeat to Boise State and is now 3-4. The Noles changed coaches last year, but the team still hasn’t gained momentum. FSU student Zeidi Jimenez says its hard watching her team lose.

Zeidi Jimenez says she's been a long-time FSU football fan, but says in recent months the stadium has been empty during home games.
Credit Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

“I’m kind of disappointed. It’s not more of like that I’m ashamed of like our school because I will defend like our football team no matter what but sometimes it’s kind of like shameful as to how we’re doing right now,” Jimenez says.

She's standing near the hammocks on Landis Green—a popular area for students to lounge between classes. Jimenez says she doesn’t like how head coach Willie Taggart acts during games.

“He’s not there. In the games you see him and he just has his arms crossed. He’s just like standing there. There’s no—There’s no like movement. There’s no excitement. There’s no anger. He doesn’t even get angry. He just like stays there doesn’t like encourage them at all doesn’t get like happy when they do something right,” she says.

Some FSU fans and observers are calling for Taggart to be fired. His first year at the helm, FSU missed out on post-season play, snapping its decades-long bowl appearance streak.  But FSU student George Carr says the coach needs more time to settle into his new role.

George Carr says it's sad to see his team lose but he' still has hope for head coach Willie Taggart.
Credit Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

“We still are kind of rebuilding. Our coach is only in his second season here and I think people still really need to kind of give him a chance to develop the program and kind of get on his feet. I think I am seeing some improvement even in losses like I think we are getting better but it’s going to take time,” says Carr.

Not too far from FSU, FAMU is celebrating the Rattler’s recent win over North Carolina. Walking to and from class, Viance Miltier says it’s a win is that’s not without hardship.

“They do deserve it with all the work that they do put in. And especially being an HBCU, we’re not really heavily funded in the athletics position so for us to do what we do with what we have is really something that needs to be taken note of,” Miltier says.

Vince Miltier stands with her friend on Florida A&M University's campus.
Credit Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

But even if the team finishes with a near-perfect season, it’s not eligible to win its division. The NCAA slapped FAMU with infractions for allowing ineligible students to compete. As a result, the university's self-imposed penalties include no post-season competition this year. FAMU student Kaleb Laverty says he hopes the athletics program can learn from its mistakes.

“Of course it’s going to be a blow to us because we’re actually doing really good this year. But of course, I mean, we’re just going to have to take it like I said and learn from it and just even be as energy-filled as we are this year and next year,” Laverty says.

Kaleb Laverty says he's proud to be a Rattler and hopes his team can learn from their mistakes.
Credit Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

The Rattler’s last game will be on November 23rd against Bethune-Cookman. The two teams are tied at 1st in the Mideastern Athletic Conference.