Examining who could replace Willie Taggart at Florida State
Florida State fired Willie Taggart as the program’s head coach on Sunday. The Seminoles lost to Miami in Week 10, which dropped the program’s record to 4-5 in 2019. Taggart went 9-12 in his tenure in Tallahassee and was 6-9 in ACC play. While Taggart inherited some personnel challenges, progress has been tough to identify during his tenure. Odell Haggins will work as the interim coach for the next three games.
Who could replace Taggart at Florida State? Here are 10 coaches to watch:
Florida State Football: 10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Willie Taggart
Matt Campbell, Head Coach, Iowa State
Campbell has spent his entire career in the Midwest, but there’s little doubt he would be able to win at any job in college football. Campbell went 35-15 at Toledo from 2011-14 and took over at Iowa State prior to the 2016 campaign. After a 3-9 debut in 2016, the Cyclones showed marked improvement with back-to-back 8-5 records. Iowa State is off to a 5-3 start in 2019, which puts Campbell’s record at 24-22.
Tony Elliott, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Could Florida State look to a division rival for a replacement? It’s only a matter of time before Elliott gets an opportunity to run his own program. He’s worked at Clemson as an assistant since 2011 and assumed play-calling duties in ’15. Elliott is regarded as an excellent recruiter and his play-calling ability is a big reason why the Tigers have claimed two national titles over the last three years.
P.J. Fleck, Head Coach, Minnesota
Minnesota has made significant strides under Fleck’s watch and enters Week 11 with an 8-0 record. The Golden Gophers went 5-7 in his debut (2017) and improved to 7-6 last season. Prior to coming to Minneapolis, Fleck also brought marked improvement to Western Michigan. The Broncos went 1-11 in Fleck’s first year (2013) but won at least eight games the next three seasons, including a 13-1 record with a MAC title in 2016. The Broncos also earned a trip to a New Year's Six bowl that season. Fleck is regarded as an excellent recruiter.
Mike Leach, Head Coach, Washington State
Leach’s name has popped up for Power 5 openings over the last couple of years. He’s 53-44 since taking over Washington State and previously went 84-43 at Texas Tech (2000-09). Leach is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football.
Urban Meyer, Former Florida and Ohio State Head Coach
Yes, this is a longshot. However, Florida State has to at least inquire. Meyer is one of the top coaches in college football history and went 187-32 during tenures Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Meyer won two national championships at Florida and one at Ohio State.
Mike Norvell, Head Coach, Memphis
Norvell’s stock is on the rise after an 8-1 start in 2019. Memphis has won at least eight games in all four years of Norvell’s tenure and claimed back-to-back AAC West titles (2017-18). The Tigers are 34-15 under Norvell’s watch and finished No. 25 in the final Associated Press poll in 2017. Norvell worked as an assistant at Tulsa, Pitt and Arizona State before taking over as the head coach at Memphis in 2016.
Jeff Scott, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Both of Clemson’s co-offensive coordinators make this list. Scott is a coach on the rise after sharing the title with Tony Elliott since 2015. Scott is a native of Florida and is regarded for his work on the recruiting trail. He does not have any experience as a head coach.
Bob Stoops, Former Oklahoma Head Coach
Stoops is slated to be the head coach for the Dallas Renegades in the XFL in 2020. Similar to Urban Meyer, this is a longshot for Florida State. However, the program has to at least inquire. Stoops went 190-48 at Oklahoma from 1999-2016. He had only one season of fewer than eight wins and claimed the 2000 national championship.
Mark Stoops, Head Coach, Kentucky
Stoops previously worked at Florida State from 2010-12 as the program’s defensive coordinator. He took over as Kentucky’s head coach in 2013 and went 12-24 in his first three years at the helm. However, the Wildcats rebounded to post at least seven victories in each of the next three seasons, including a 10-3 mark in 2018. Stoops is 40-43 overall in his tenure in Lexington.
Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
As one of the highest-paid assistants in college football, Venables can be patient in taking a head-coaching job. He’s regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in college football and has been a key cog in Clemson’s rise to one of the top programs in the nation.