ESPN personality Paul Finebaum almost always favors the SEC. So much so that it’s hard for ACC fans to tune in to his rah-rah style.
But on Monday, when asked on WJOX 94.5 FM who would win a conference title first — Florida State’s Willie Taggart or Florida’s Dan Mullen — Finebaum didn’t favor the SEC coach.
“I would probably go with Willie Taggart for the simple reason that to win at Florida State, you have to beat Clemson,” Finebaum said on WJOX 94.5 FM. “To win at Florida, you have to beat Georgia and Alabama. And that is a much taller amount. The ACC is a good league. It’s a much better league that it ever was in the days of Bobby Bowden when he really only had to beat one team.
“It’s deeper, the coaching is better, and Miami is significantly better. But it’s still much easier to win the ACC than SEC as long as Nick Saban resides in Tuscaloosa.”
In a way, that’s a backhanded compliment. Finebaum isn’t saying Taggart is a better coach than Mullen; he’s arguing Taggart has an easier path to the ACC championship.
But after the debacle of a season last year in Tallahassee, Seminoles fans probably will take the backhanded compliment. Florida State went 7-6 in its final season under Jimbo Fisher, who left for $75 million at Texas A&M. Less than a week after Fisher departed, the Seminoles successfully courted Taggart from Oregon.
Mullen also will be in his first season at Florida, but he coached in the SEC at Mississippi State from 2009-17. In his final eight years, Mullen and the Bulldogs went to a bowl game every year and posted just one losing record.
Florida went 4-7 last season. Florida State defeated its cross-state rival on the final regular season Saturday to knock the Gators out of bowl contention last year.