With all eyes focused on Palmetto native Willie Taggart potentially returning to his home state to become only the third head football coach at Florida State in the past 43 years, the former Manatee High standout reaffirmed his commitment to Oregon as the Ducks look toward their matchup with Boise State in the Dec. 16 Las Vegas Bowl.
That was Sunday.
On Monday, rumors remained strong that FSU was targeting Taggart to replace Jimbo Fisher, who left after eight seasons as head coach in Tallahassee for the same position at Texas A&M, not to mention a 10-year, $75 million contract that makes him the second-highest paid coach behind Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Taggart was reportedly to meet with FSU officials on Monday, and an announcement could come soon.
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While Florida State hopes its coaching search comes to a quick end this week as its recruiting class continues to take hits, Taggart – at least publicly – has remained committed to Oregon.
When asked by reporters Sunday if he would be the Ducks’ coach in the bowl game, Taggart said: “Why wouldn’t I be? ... Nothing’s changed.”
Taggart, who left for Oregon last December after four seasons at South Florida, recently was offered a five-year, $20 million extension by Oregon but hasn’t signed it, according to reports. That has led to speculation that Taggart could depart Oregon after one season for what would be considered a dream job at Florida State.
Oregon officials were said to be expecting a decision on Taggart’s future early this week.
Taggart has a 47-50 career record during stints at Western Kentucky (16-20 from 2010-12), USF (24-25 from 2013-16) and Oregon (7-5 in 2017).
On Sunday, Taggart told reporters he “absolutely” understood that his background – he continues to recruit players from the Sunshine State – and resume have him among the front-runners for the FSU job, along with Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente and USF’s Charlie Strong.
While Oregon is said to be preparing for a coaching search if Taggart is Florida State’s top choice, FSU athletic director Stan Wilcox said he wants to move “very, very fast” in landing Fisher’s replacement.
After Florida State beat Louisiana Monroe 42-10 on Saturday to extend the program’s streak of consecutive bowl appearance to 36, Wilcox said, among other things, the new coach must be a strong recruiter within Florida and have the ability to be a “CEO” of a premier program.
With the early signing period (Dec. 20-22) for football players rapidly approaching, time is of the essence.
“We’re going to find the next leader that’s going to be able to fit into Florida State, and fit with all the facilities that we have, with all the resources that we have,” Wilcox said.