Willie Taggart and Justin Fuente lead Florida State's list of candidates to replace Jimbo Fisher after he left for the Texas A&M job.

By Bruce Feldman
December 01, 2017

With Jimbo Fisher leaving Florida State for Texas A&M, one of the best jobs in college football is open. Expect Oregon's Willie Taggart, a Florida native, to be a top target of the Noles, sources have told SI but there are other strong candidates in play.

The 41-year-old from Bradenton has done outstanding jobs at Western Kentucky and USF and has had a strong first season at Oregon where he's led the Ducks to a 7-5 record despite losing their standout QB Justin Herbert for half the year. A Jim Harbaugh protégé, Taggart's teams play hard. He is regarded as an excellent motivator and team builder who has been very good at connecting with families and recruits. Word is Taggart and his family really like Oregon and the set-up they have at UO but this FSU job would be very tempting for him since it'd be like going home. This is not just like Ole Miss or some other SEC job. It's FSU with great resources and local appeal.

Justin Fuente is another coach FSU is likely to take a close look at. He's also 41 and did well to turn a dismal Memphis program around before following Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech. He's 19-7 in two seasons there. He, too, is said to be very comfortable with his situation but could he say no to FSU if the Noles came calling?

A wildcard in this could be UCF's Scott Frost, who many expect to make the move to Nebraska, his alma mater. Could FSU coming open get in the way of that? He would have a much bigger, deeper recruiting pool in Florida than in Nebraska. A Chip Kelly protégé, Frost has led a resurgence at UCF, where the Knights are 11–0. Frost's team leads the nation in points per game at 48.2. In 2015, the year before he arrived in Orlando, the Knights averaged fewer than 14 points per game (126th in the country) and went 0–12.

Two other coaches to keep an eye on for this one: Former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and another guy with Purdue roots Jeff Brohm. Sumlin, a 53-year-old Alabama native, is 86-43 as a head coach. He was fired earlier this week after going 7-5 with the Aggies. In 2012, he led A&M to its first top five finish in over a half century.

Brohm just turned down the Tennessee vacancy a few days ago. He's one of the most creative coaches in all of football. The 46-year old from Louisville led the Boilers to his first bowl season in five years.

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