In what has become the worst kept secret in the college football coaching carousel, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher will leave the Seminoles program and accept the coaching vacancy at Texas A&M on Thursday, per multiple reports.
The move comes after a tumultuous week in Tallahassee where Fisher and administrators butted heads on the direction of the program and his role in helping right the ship.
After having a smooth transition from legendary coach Bobby Bowden to Fisher after the 2009 season, the Seminoles will now enter the coaching search market for the first time since 1976.
Given the success the program has had during that time span, it’s undoubtedly one of the top jobs in the country and should attract plenty of willing and talented candidates.
But if there’s one candidate who appears to be a perfect fit to get the program back on track, its current Oregon head coach Willie Taggart.
Source: Florida State officials have started doing background work on Oregon coach Willie Taggart in preparation for the possibility Jimbo Fisher takes the Texas A&M job.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 29, 2017
The 41-year old Taggart is a Florida native who has been a coach for 8 years at 3 different schools. He’s resurrected downtrodden programs at Western Kentucky and South Florida and has Oregon turned around at 7-5 this season one year after the Ducks finished 4-8.
That’s despite losing 4 games after starting quarterback Justin Herbert went down with an injury that cause him to miss 5 games.
Additionally, he served as an assistant to current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh when he was at Stanford and played quarterback for Harbaugh’s father Jack at Western Kentucky during his playing career.
But the number one reason he makes sense for the Seminoles is his prowess on the recruiting trail.
Taggart, who is originally from Bradenton, Fla., has the Ducks sitting currently with the nation’s No. 6 class and the top overall group in the Pac-12. The 25-man class has pledges from states such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas in addition to his current stomping grounds on the West Coast.
Included in that group are players that Fisher’s staff coveted such as 4-star Seffner [Fla.] Armwood receiver Warren Thompson and 4-star Zephyrhills [Fla.] Wesley Chapel corner Isaiah Bolden — who was committed to the Seminoles at one point earlier in his recruitment.
Taggart has assembled a staff of elite recruiters such as safeties coach Keith Heyward, special teams coordinator Raymond Woodie and co-offenisve coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo. Those 3 coaches rank among the top 30 recruiters in the current cycle, according to 247Sports.
Plus, he’s got coaches such as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt who have extensive ties to the state of Florida from previous stops in their respective careers.
Two coaches I do not want to see go to Florida State when Jimbo go to Texas A&M Willie Taggart Lane kiffin Tennessee do the right thing and higher Lane Oregon give Willy more money
— LUTHER R CAMPBELL (@unclelukereal1) November 28, 2017
While it remains to be seen who he could possibly bring with him, the staff he’s built in Eugene is proof of his ability to put together a group of coaches who can also get it done on the recruiting trail.
Considering the mess that has been left behind in the wake of Fisher’s departure, the first step toward getting Florida State back to the top of the ACC and relevant on a national scale begins with acquiring talent.
While there are plenty of coaching candidates who would be qualified and deserve a look from Florida State’s administration, none seem to make more sense in terms of fit moreso than Taggart.
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