Alex Krutchik, Correspondent (@AlexKrutchikFS on Twitter)
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida State football’s first head coaching search in 41 years has come to an end, with the hiring of Willie Taggart.
Taggart, 41, was previously the head coach at the University of Oregon, where he was 7-5 in his only season.
Although he has an overall head coaching record of 47-50, he has shown he can quickly turn programs around.
Seminole fans might remember him mostly for his stint with the University of South Florida. In 2013, he took a team that went 3-9 the previous year and went 2-10 in his first season. From there, the team improved on their wins with each season, going 4-8, 8-5, and 11-2 respectively from 2014-2016. In his final two seasons, he brought them to a bowl, although he had already resigned before the 2016 bowl game in which they beat South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.
At Western Kentucky, he took over a team that was winless in the season before he got there, and improved the team to 2-10, 7-5, and 7-6 in his three years there. They were bowl eligible in his final two years, and got invited to the Little Caesar’s Bowl in his final season.
The Bradenton, Fla. native will likely offer a solid recruiting pipeline in the central Florida area. The 2018 recruiting class for FSU is already hurting. Between the time that former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was fired from A&M–and the rumors of Jimbo Fisher’s departure started getting more credible– and the time Taggart was hired, FSU had lost seven recruits, and slid from having the No. 11 recruiting class to No. 40, according to Rivals.com.
However, some of the recruits that did stick around are excited for Taggart’s arrival.
“I’m really excited. I’ve heard great things about him and I can’t wait to play under him. We’re gonna bring in a really great class,” said four-star linebacker Amari Gainer in a statement to Nole Gameday.
Uncomfirmed reports also say that Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will be coming to FSU to take the same role. Oregon gave up 360 yards per game in 2017, which was No. 40 in the nation. Previously, Leavitt was the coach at USF from its inception in 1997 until 2009. He went 95-67, and brought USF to five straight bowl games in his final five seasons, going 3-2 in those games.
Because former head coach Jimbo Fisher was appointed “head coach in waiting” while Bobby Bowden was still a head coach at FSU, this is the first actual head coaching search for the Seminoles since 1976. Taggart was born in late August of 1976, which means he wasn’t even alive when FSU last negotiated a contract with a brand new head coach.
Taggart will become FSU’s first full-time black head coach.
An introductory press conference will be held at 11 A.M. on Wednesday.