Florida State fires second-year head coach Willie Taggart

Florida State head coach Willie Taggart was fired after a loss to Miami. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Florida State head coach Willie Taggart was fired after a loss to Miami. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

Florida State has fired Willie Taggart with three games left in the 2019 season.

FSU lost 27-10 at home to Miami on Saturday to drop to 4-5 on the season. After a 5-7 season in 2018, Taggart’s record with the team dropped to 9-12 with the loss. He was hired from Oregon after one season with the Ducks. He went to Oregon after he was the head coach at South Florida.

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“I spoke to Coach Taggart this afternoon to let him know of our decision,” athletic director David Coburn said in a statement. “I met with the team and coaches immediately after that conversation to let them know of the change. It was very important to us that the student-athletes know right away.”

Taggart was hired to replace Jimbo Fisher after Fisher went to Texas A&M. Odell Haggins, who took over as the interim coach in 2017 after Fisher’s departure, stayed on staff at Florida State and will once again serve as the team’s interim coach.

“I think very highly of Coach Taggart and wish him well, but in the interest of the university we had no choice but to make a change,” Florida State president John Thrasher said in a statement. “We will support our student-athletes in every way and do all we can to return to the winning tradition that is Seminole football.”

Taggart’s firing isn’t cheap, either.

Taggart has a career record of 56-62 as a head coach. He was 16-20 in three seasons at Western Kentucky from 2010-12 before he was hired at South Florida. The Bulls were 2-10 in his first season and improved each year before going 10-2 in 2016. That was Taggart’s final season with the school before he was hired at Oregon.


Florida State missed a bowl in 2018

The sub-.500 season in 2018 marked the first time FSU had missed a bowl game since the 1981 season. If Florida State doesn’t win two of its final three games against Boston College, Alabama State and Florida, the Seminoles will miss bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1975 and 1976. That 1976 season was the first of Bobby Bowden’s tenure.

Taggart seemed like a home-run hire for the Seminoles when he was brought to Tallahassee after the 2017 season. But it’s been rocky from the start as the team has struggled to find a competent offense.

Taggart hired former Houston and Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles to be the team’s OC ahead of the 2018 season but the change hasn’t sparked the offense. FSU QB Alex Hornibrook threw for 135 yards on Saturday and Miami coach Manny Diaz referred to him as a “stationary target” after the game.

Florida State opened the 2019 season at home against Boise State and got run over by the Broncos. After the loss, which came in August, Taggart wondered if Florida State players hadn’t been properly hydrated before the game. Boise State ran nearly 100 plays.

Count out Urban Meyer

You can safely assume that Urban Meyer won’t be a candidate at Florida State. Coburn said in October that the school wouldn’t pursue Meyer if Taggart was “hit by a bus tomorrow.”

Taggart is the second Power Five coach fired during the 2019 season. Rutgers previously fired Chris Ash. Rutgers and Florida State will not be going after the same candidates.

But what type of candidates will FSU go after? That’s unclear at the moment given the surprise nature of Taggart’s firing. Will FSU go after a coordinator at a Power Five school or look for another established head coach?

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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