Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)

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Eric Taylor
Friday Night Lights character
Coach Eric Taylor FNL S4.jpg
Kyle Chandler as Eric Taylor
First appearance "Pilot"
Last appearance "Always"
Portrayed by Kyle Chandler
Information
Occupation Head Coach of the Pemberton Pioneers
Former Head Coach of the East Dillon Lions
Former Quarterbacks Coach of Texas Methodist University
Former Head Coach of the Dillon Panthers
Spouse(s) Tami Taylor
Children Julie Taylor (daughter)
Gracie Taylor (daughter)

Eric Taylor is a fictional character in the NBC/DirecTV (The 101 Network) drama television series Friday Night Lights played by Kyle Chandler. He is introduced as the head coach of the Dillon High School football team, the Dillon Panthers. At the end of the first season he accepts a position as the quarterback coach at the fictional Texas Methodist University (TMU), where he had served as an assistant coach. After the birth of his second daughter he leaves TMU in the second season to return to Dillon and once again coach the Panthers. Following a conspiracy by Joe McCoy in season three Taylor is replaced as Panthers coach by Wade Aikman and instead offered the chance to start a new football program at East Dillon. The character was positively received as it was included on several best lists and earned Kyle Chandler a number of award nominations, winning notably an Emmy Award in 2011.

Characterization[edit]

As a coach, Taylor is firm but fair to his players and is against nepotism, a characteristic which put him at odds with Joe McCoy and led to his ousting and subsequent transfer to East Dillon High. He is held in high regard as a "molder of men"[1] and greatly respected by his players, many of whom lacked a father figure or significant male role model in their lives and saw him as a surrogate father. As his former star quarterback Jason Street once said of him, "You [Taylor] will always be my coach".[2] His high school counselor-turned-principal wife Tami often groused about how the lines between football and academics at Dillon High are blurred and the fact that there was the perception that football players could get away with anything. Nonetheless, his strong sense of morality is seen a number of times, such as when he suspended Smash Williams for using steroids, personally apologized to a student who was beaten up by one of his hot-headed defensive ends (Bobby Reyes) and does not hesitate to punish players for disobeying rules, whether on the field or off it.

Taylor loves his family very much and is much more affectionate around his wife, contrasting with the brusque and "hard-ass" football coach image he maintains at practices. He and their daughter Julie are close but relations between them were strained for a while when she went through a rebellious phase in season 2. Despite her dislike of football, Julie is often seen at games cheering her father on and Taylor tries his best to relate with her, taking her to the father-daughter dance and playing table tennis in their driveway.

Storylines[edit]

Season 1[edit]

During the pilot episode, Taylor is introduced as the new Dillon Panthers head coach. It is likely that he had been at Dillon for some time since it was stated that he used to be quarterbacks coach prior to the promotion. His season starts disastrously when his star quarterback Jason Street is paralyzed as a result of a tackle gone wrong. Sophomore Matt Saracen managed to save the game but Taylor was under immense pressure from everyone, given Matt's status as a somewhat unknown and hardly-used talent. In addition, he had to deal with the overbearing booster club president Buddy Garrity, who ambitiously recruits Ray "Voodoo" Tatum without consulting Taylor. Taylor eventually expels Tatum from the team for being disrespectful in the locker room (i.e. insubordination) and failing to follow the play book, costing the team an interception during a crucial juncture of the game. Despite a rough road into the playoffs, the Panthers ended the season with a record of 12-2 and won the 2006 Texas High School State Championship, winning a thrilling final game by overcoming a 26-0 deficit, 27-26. Along with teammates Smash Williams and Tim Riggins, Saracen led the Panthers to a victory in the state final over ex-Panther Ray "Voodoo" Tatum's new team, West Cambria.

Season 2[edit]

Taylor decided to leave his position at TMU and rejoin the Panthers after Buddy Garrity and the boosters fired his replacement due to frustration with the team's performance the first two games, in which they posted a 1-1 record. After Taylor's return, the Panthers went on a prolonged winning streak, qualifying for the playoffs with an 8-2 record. However, their quest for a second consecutive state title fell short, as the Panthers lost in the state quarterfinal, ending the season with a 9-3 record.

Season 3[edit]

Again, as in season 1, quarterback controversy surrounded the Panthers the entire year, with a conflict emerging between veteran Matt Saracen and young phenom JD McCoy. The two shared playing time the first few games of the season, after which time Taylor decided to start McCoy and demote Saracen to second string. Determined to win back a starting role, Saracen, with the help of his girlfriend and coach's daughter Julie Taylor, convinces Coach Taylor to give him a starting role as a wide receiver. Saracen plays well in his new role, and along with McCoy and Riggins, helps the Panthers post their strongest regular season under Coach Taylor, as they cruised into the playoffs with a 9-1 record. For the second time in three seasons, the Panthers reached the state final; however, McCoy broke down mentally, and the Panthers found themselves losing by a huge margin at halftime again. Sensing McCoy's immaturity, Taylor decided to play Saracen at quarterback in the second half, in which Matt led the Panthers to a tremendous comeback. However, poor time management caused the Panthers to relinquish their lead, as they fell in the final seconds of the state championship, 30-28. The Panthers ended the season with a 12-2 mark.

Season 4[edit]

West Dillon decided not to renew Coach Taylor's contract, as Joe McCoy's influence led the boosters and the school board to select Wade Aikman, JD McCoy's personal quarterback coach, as the new Panther Head Coach. Taylor's failure to comply with McCoy and Aikman's demands—total control of offensive play calling and assurance that JD would start every game—led to his departure. Taylor was selected to coach the new team at the newly re-opened East Dillon High School, where he would have to start from scratch. He finds an unlikely ally in Buddy Garrity, who was so disgusted by McCoy's behavior and manipulation that he publicly switched allegiances to the East Dillon Lions (and Coach Taylor). In the first game, the East Dillon Lions looked completely overmatched, trailing 45-0 at halftime, at which time Taylor decided to forfeit the game, due to his players' injuries. Taylor eventually apologized for this decision, as it demoralized his players and took him several days to win back their respect. During the season, under Taylor's tutelage, sophomore quarterback Vince Howard emerged as one of the state's best players. After the first game, Buddy Garrity switched allegiances, due to his frustration with Panther leadership, and alerted Coach Taylor to the real address of West Dillon star running back Luke Cafferty. With Howard and the acquisition of Cafferty from West Dillon, the Lions ended the season respectably, defeating West Dillon in the final game on a field goal by Landry Clarke. Although the Lions ended the season with a poor 2-8 mark, Taylor, Howard, and Cafferty had laid the foundation for next year's championship team.

Season 5[edit]

The Lions began the season on a roll, winning their first seven games, including a blowout of crosstown rival West Dillon. During the season, under the influence of his father, Vince Howard became corrupted by the recruitment process, which caused the end of Lions winning streak. Vince's temporary selfishness forced Coach Taylor to bench him and start Cafferty at quarterback. In the meantime, Taylor was again courted by another college in Florida.[3][4] Although the offense struggled when Howard was benched, Cafferty led the Lions to a thrilling last second victory, in which they clinched a playoff berth. Howard realized his mistakes and grew into a mature leader toward the end of the season, leading the Lions to dominate throughout the playoffs and reach the state final. Howard threw a Hail Mary touchdown pass to clinch the state championship for the Lions 27-26. Despite the state championship, budget cuts forced the elimination of the Lions after the season, at which time the Lions players would join the Panthers, and Taylor would move away from Dillon and begin coaching the Pemberton Pioneers in Philadelphia, due to a career opportunity for his wife Tami.

Coach Taylor's Record[edit]

As Head Coach of the Panthers for 3 seasons and Lions for 2, Eric Taylor compiled an impressive 48-16 record, including 4 playoff appearances, 3 state finals appearances, and 2 state championships. With the Panthers, Taylor compiled a record of 33-7, including two 12-2 seasons; 2006 in which he won the state final and 2008 in which he reached the state final. With the Lions, Taylor compiled a record of 15-9, including a 13-1 mark in 2010, in which he won his second state title.

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Won Lost Win % Result
Dillon Panthers 2006 8 2 0 .800 4 0 100 Defeated West Cambria Mustangs in the State Title Game
Dillon Panthers 2007 8 2 0 .800 1 1 50 Lost in state quarterfinal
Dillon Panthers 2008 9 1 0 .900 3 1 75 Lost to South Texas Titans in the State Title Game
East Dillon Lions 2009 2 8 0 .200 - - - -
East Dillon Lions 2010 9 1 0 .900 4 0 100 Defeated Hudgins Hawks in the State Title Game
Total 36 14 0 .720 12 2 85.7

Reception[edit]

He was listed in MTV's Best TV Characters of 2011.[5] AOL TV placed him in its Top 20 TV Dads.[6] John Kubicek of BuddyTV listed him in his list of the "15 Hottest TV Dads", describing him as a "surrogate father to many of his players" and praising his will to relate to his daughter's life.[7] Eric's relationship with Tami was included in AOL TV's list of the "Best TV Couples of All Time" and in the same list by TV Guide.[8][9] Judy Berman of Flavorwire put the couple in her list of the best TV characters of 2011, explaining: "Friday Night Lights‍‍ '​‍s Eric and Tami Taylor have often been called the most realistic depiction of a strong marriage on television, and we agree with that assessment. Deeply good people who are imperfect enough to never seem saccharine, they have major disagreements and relationship-changing conflicts but value each other and their marriage enough to work them out."[10] For his portrayal, Kyle Chandler received several award nominations, winning notably one Primetime Emmy Award in 2011.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Expectations". Friday Night Lights. Season 5. Episode 1. October 27, 2010. NBC. 
  2. ^ "What To Do While You're Waiting". Friday Night Lights. Season 1. Episode 12. January 10, 2007. NBC. 
  3. ^ "Perfect Record". Friday Night Lights. Season 5. Episode 7. December 15, 2010. NBC. 
  4. ^ "Gut Check". Friday Night Lights. Season 5. Episode 9. January 12, 2011. NBC. 
  5. ^ "Best TV Characters 2011 - Coach Eric Taylor". MTV. Viacom. December 7, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  6. ^ Reid, Jefferson (June 8, 2009). "Greatest TV Dad". AOL TV. Aol, Inc. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ Kubicek, John (June 12, 2008). "15 Hottest TV Dads: #13 - Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights". BuddyTV. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ Potts, Kimberly (February 11, 2008). "Best TV Couples of All Time". AOL TV. Aol, Inc. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Couples Pictures, Friday Night Lights Photos - Photo Gallery: The Best TV Couples of All Time". TV Guide. Retrieved June 20, 2012. 
  10. ^ Berman, Judy (December 22, 2011). "The Best TV Characters of 2011". Flavorwire. Retrieved July 20, 2012.