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Clark: Why Odell Haggins is good for the soul of Florida State Football

If you had seen me playing football in my front yard as a 12-year-old, you almost certainly would have seen me imitating Odell Haggins.

Any time I made a play against one of my friends -- and trust me, reader, I was an incredible athlete -- I would celebrate the way Odell Haggins would celebrate.

I would stand there, raise my arms to the heavens and then cross my wrists. I think it was to signal an "X," as in I just X'd that play out of existence, but I'm not really sure. The reason why Haggins celebrated like that didn't matter to me. I just did it because Odell did it.

That was 32 years ago.

That's how long Odell Haggins has been in my life.

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Odell Haggins has become one of the most beloved figures in Florida State football history.
Odell Haggins has become one of the most beloved figures in Florida State football history. (Warchant.com)

For the people who went to school at Florida State pre-1990, or the people who grew up with FSU football like I did, Haggins was always going to have a special place in our memories. Just for what he did on the football field.

But he's so much more than that.

Florida State has had literally hundreds of All-Americans in the last four decades. And hundreds of draft picks. But only one of them has gone on to become one of the most beloved assistant coaches in the history of the sport.

That's the place Odell Haggins now currently resides.

Part of the reason why is this stuff just doesn't happen anymore. Coaches don't stay at the same school for 26 years. They don't coach the same position for 24. They don't stay through three different coaching regimes -- all the while puffing their chests out as far as they can go, because they're so proud to be wearing a garnet shirt.

Nobody loves their place of employment more than Odell Haggins loves Florida State.

That's what has been so refreshing in each of these last two periods of turmoil.

Jimbo Fisher bounced for more money and a much emptier trophy case.

Willie Taggart got bounced for not winning enough games.

Odell Haggins remained at Florida State through it all because Odell Haggins doesn't want to be anywhere else. And also, it should be pointed out, because Odell Haggins is really good at his job.

Both Fisher and Taggart knew not to mess with the longtime defensive line coach. He's part of the program. He's a package deal, along with Osceola and the Marching Chiefs.

I have no idea if Haggins has ever been considered to be the permanent head coach at Florida State. I have no idea if he even wants to be, or if it would be a good move for the program.

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