COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Taggart uses FSU's fight song, 'The Bowden Dynasty' to foster pride in Seminoles
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida State football players may listen to a few Hip Hop songs inside the indoor practice facility to stretch and get their juices flowing before preseason practice.
But once the Seminoles storm the practice fields, with hopes of redeeming a disappointing 2017 season, they march to the beat of a different tune synonymous with their storied university.
The Florida State Fight Song has bookended practice sessions this week, with the Seminoles players even singing in unison to conclude practice.
Along with watching the "The Bowden Dynasty" _ a documentary detailing Bobby Bowden's legendary run as FSU coach _ new coach Willie Taggart continues to cultivate pride and school spirit among coaches and players during the first week of the preseason.
"It was amazing when I asked our guys how many guys knew the fight song, and only two guys raised their hand," Taggart said on Friday. "That's a problem."
Taggart, a lifelong Seminoles fan before he took the coaching job last December, wants his players and coaches to fully grasp the rich tradition of Florida State football with hopes of reaching championship success like Bowden and Jimbo Fisher in the near future.
Since becoming FSU coach, Taggart has welcomed Bowden and a slew of former players back into the fold of their football program. He also hired former longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews to join the coaching staff as his special assistant.
Longtime defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins and new offensive line coach Greg Frey have experienced FSU's glory days firsthand as former players.
For the other seven new assistants on Taggart's staff, the history lessons allow them to embrace the program they hope to continue building with Bowden's mantra of family, faith and football in mind.
"It gives you chills just knowing where the program came from and where it got to," special teams coordinator Alonzo Hampton said. "The last couple of years haven't been the best, but the athletes are still the same. It's a great opportunity."
As for the players _ who may have not been old enough to experience when Bowden and the Seminoles reigned during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s _ they have been encouraged to learn about the school's football history and customs.
Senior defensive lineman Wally Aime said his teammates only knew the portion of the song where Florida State is spelled out because that's what they hear from fans in the stadium.
Now, the players and coaches sing the fight song whenever it comes on while on the field, and even in meeting rooms.
"Coach Taggart just wants us to know where we came from, and know that Florida State is our school and our family," Aime said. "We haven't done that in the past. I didn't realize how bad that was until Taggart brought it up."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Bailey Hockman, who compared Bowden's run with the Seminoles to Nick Saban's current run with Alabama, realizes the importance of the current players carrying on FSU's tradition.
"I think it's a really big deal," Hockman said. "It kind of makes you see the bigger picture of what you're playing for. ... I'm actually playing for something way bigger than me and myself."
Starting cornerback Levonta Taylor said the Seminoles' high morale is geared toward showing what they can do when they open this season against Virginia Tech at Doak Campbell Stadium on Sept. 3.
"Everybody wants to come out here to compete and win," Taylor said. "When you have a team full of savages like us that want to compete and win, you're going to get great things out of us."