Florida State University

It’s easy to make fun of FSU’s backpack. But coach Willie Taggart is ‘proud of it’

FSU player Stanford Samuels III wears the “turnover backpack” as he celebrates with teammate Emmett Rice after their game against the Louisville Cardinals on Sept. 29, 2018.
FSU player Stanford Samuels III wears the “turnover backpack” as he celebrates with teammate Emmett Rice after their game against the Louisville Cardinals on Sept. 29, 2018. Getty Images

Miami hasn’t shied away from taking shots — thinly veiled or not — at Florida State’s turnover backpack this year.

Center Tyler Gauthier believes the Seminoles and others are clearly ripping off the Hurricanes’ turnover chain. Fellow offensive lineman Venzell Boulware referred to the red backpack as Florida State’s “purse.”

Quarterback and N’Kosi Perry and wide receiver Darrell Langham both declined to comment, but only after flashing big grins and stifling some laughter.

Unsurprisingly, word has gotten back to Tallahassee, although coach Willie Taggart says it isn’t bulletin board material — but maybe not for the more obvious reasons. No, the Seminoles have gotten used to the criticism thanks to their own fan base.

“We had our own fans picking at our bag,” Taggart said Wednesday during the weekly ACC coaches teleconference, “so those things don’t matter to us.“

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Florida State head coach Willie Taggart answers a question during a news conference at the NCAA Atlantic Coast Conference college football media day in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, July 19, 2018. Chuck Burton AP Photo

Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz acknowledged Wednesday that Miami isn’t the first school to use some sort of turnover prop. Tennessee dunked footballs into trash cans in recent years. Plenty of schools used turnover belts before the Hurricanes had their own prop.

When asked Wednesday if he were surprised how schools attempt to replicate, but never duplicate, the chain concept, Diaz said, “Well, we didn’t start the prop business...We have the best one, but we weren’t the first one. So, we can’t exactly poke our chest out and say, ‘Everybody’s copying us,’ because somebody else had the idea originally.

“Now, because we have the best idea, we don’t really spend a lot of time worrying about what other people have.”

The turnover chain, however, became an immediate phenomenon when Miami broke it out for the first time last season. Football is a copycat sport and no idea has been copied more in the last year than finding a unique way to celebrate takeaways.

The criticism of Florida State’s backpack hasn’t gotten to Taggart, though. The Seminoles have embraced the idea and some of them spent the week defending the prop against the Hurricanes’ detractors. Florida State will stick with what it likes.

“It’s a bag that we like and we appreciate, and we’re proud of and we’re going to continue to be proud of it,” Taggart said, “so we don’t need any of that. Just go out and play ball.”

Diaz was asked if he ever thought of a backpack before he helped created the turnover chain.

“I like the chain,’’ he said.

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