The Florida State Seminoles could soon be coached by a man raised in Bradenton.
Now that Jimbo Fisher will leave FSU and take charge of the Texas A&M football team, the Seminoles could pursue Willie Taggart as his replacement.
Rumors swirled for weeks that Fisher, who has led the Seminoles since 2010, would leave Florida State University to become head coach of the Texas A&M football team. On Friday, he officially announced his plan to do so.
FSU administration is widely expected to pursue Taggart, who is in his first year as head coach at Oregon, as his replacement.
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Taggart, a Palmetto native and Manatee High School alumnus, has become a journeyman of sorts in the world of college football coaching. If he takes the FSU job, it would be his third coaching job in three years.
In his first year at Oregon, Taggart, 41, was tasked with rebuilding a program once known for its high-powered offense — a task he successfully handled during his three years at the University of South Florida, eventually coaching the team to its first 10-win season. Under Mark Helfrich last year, the Ducks stumbled to a 4-8 record, winning only two conference games.
Taggart, who has an overall record of 47-50, fared better than his predecessor, but not by much. Oregon has won seven games this season, and all five of their losses are to Pac-12 opponents. However, a collarbone injury took out Taggart’s starting quarterback for five games. During that time, the Ducks were 1-4.
But Oregon isn’t ready to let Taggart go. Sports Illustrated reports that the university offered him a new five-year contract Wednesday night that would pay him more than $20 million.
That might not be enough to lock Taggart down, but NBC Sports reports there are a bunch of other things that might. He recently had his home in Eugene, Ore., remodeled, his kids have just settled into their new schools, he’s got a great relationship with Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens, and he has a recruiting class lined up that is ranked as high as sixth in the nation.
By comparison, FSU is in shambles. According to ESPN, three recruits from the 2018 recruiting class, currently ranked No. 14 by 247Sports, announced Wednesday night that they were decommitting from the university. On top of that, FSU’s 5-6 record is a far cry from 2013 when current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston led the team to a 14-0 record and a national championship.
ESPN reports that Fisher’s relationship with FSU administration had fallen apart due to his repeated complaints about FSU’s practice facilities.
The university has made numerous improvements to its football facilities during Fisher’s time there, but the main point of contention could be that the Seminoles football team doesn’t yet have its own practice facility. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the team shares the Moore Athletic Center with other university programs.
Taggart’s hasn’t officially commented on an offer from FSU, but he may have revealed hints at staying in Oregon via his Twitter account.
As late as Wednesday evening, Taggart made home visits in an effort to solidify his recruiting class. He also retweeted a reporter who suggested he may stay in Eugene because he “loves it in Oregon.”
Taggart grew up in Manatee County, assisting his parents on vegetable fields in Palmetto. As a child, he played football at Lincoln Park and went on to play football at Manatee High School, where he left his mark as one of the program’s legendary athletes.
If Taggart does decide to head to Tallahassee, a large buyout would be required. According to Sports Illustrated, there’s a $3 million buyout on his Oregon contract, and Taggart would owe USF another $1.5 million to fulfill his initial buyout for the Oregon job.