After one year out west, Willie Taggart is returning to his home state to be FSU's next coach.

By Bruce Feldman
December 05, 2017

Oregon’s Willie Taggart has been named the next head coach at Florida State. Taggart replaces Jimbo Fisher, who left Tallahassee to take the Texas A&M job late last week. Word is, Taggart had opportunities to get in on other open Power 5 jobs this year, but he wasn’t going to leave for any job other than Florida State’s if it were to come open. Oregon has named offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal the interim head coach for the Las Vegas Bowl.

The 41-year-old Taggart was very happy with his situation in Oregon, sources told SI, but he just couldn’t resist the opportunity to return home to coach Florida State, the team he rooted for growing up in Bradenton, Fla., back in the days of Warrick Dunn, Charlie Ward and Amp Lee. Taggart’s mother and most of his family still live in Florida.

A Jim Harbaugh protégé, Taggart’s biggest challenge in his debut season in the Pac-12 was to get his teams to play harder, and his energy had made an impact on the Ducks, who had slogged through a four-win season the year before he showed up. The Ducks turned in a 7–5 record despite losing their standout quarterback Justin Herbert for half the year. In seven games with Herbert, Oregon put up a points per game mark that would’ve topped the FBS in scoring offense over a full season.

Taggart is regarded as an excellent motivator and team builder who has been very good at connecting with families and recruits. His Oregon staff is loaded with guys with strong recruiting ties throughout Florida. Prior to Oregon, Taggart had done impressive turnaround jobs at Western Kentucky and South Florida. In his four seasons at USF, the Bulls went from 2–10 his first season to 10–2 in his last, which included a top-20 finish.

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