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Willie Taggart hired at Florida State, leaves Oregon

There’s a new boss in Tallahassee.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State’s vacancy at head coach didn’t last long.

As expected after the departure of previous coach Jimbo Fisher for Texas A&M, the Seminoles did not tarry, quickly vetting candidates and today agreeing to terms with Oregon head coach Willie Taggart, sources told Tomahawk Nation.

Taggart will make the long trip to Tallahassee from Eugene, Oregon, where he was the University of Oregon’s head coach this season. In our head coach hot board, we mentioned a number of criteria FSU would prefer in a new head coach: previous success as a head coach, familiarity with the area, recruiting prowess, an offensive mind, and youth— and Taggart checks all of those boxes.

He’ll also be the first full-time African-American head football coach at Florida State.

A native of Bradenton, Florida, Taggart (who’s just 41 years old) began his head-coaching career by turning around Western Kentucky from 2010-2012, before doing the same at South Florida from 2013-2016. His debut years at Western Kentucky and USF both ended with two-win seasons but not only did he turn those schools around, he did so quickly and efficiently. His second and third seasons at Western Kentucky ended with seven wins, culminating with a bowl trip in 2012.

In Tampa, he flipped a USF program from 2-10 to 10-2 in just three seasons, with the biggest factor in that being his recruiting ability. He locked down the highly-coveted Tampa recruiting scene at USF and, in this last year, even got Tampa-area blue-chip recruits to cross the country with him and commit to Oregon.

In his lone season at Oregon, Taggart led the Ducks to a 7-5 record, despite starting quarterback Justin Herbert missing five games. The season prior, Oregon went 4-8 and missed its first bowl game since 2004.

A quarterback by trade, Taggart coached running backs at Stanford from 2007-2009. He’s considered a product of the Jim Harbaugh coaching tree and was FSU’s first choice to be its next head coach.