Florida State’s first coaching search in more than four decades lasted just five days.
FSU has reached an agreement with Oregon coach Willie Taggart on Tuesday to become the Seminoles’ new head football coach, a source told the Orlando Sentinel.
A formal announcement on Taggart’s hiring is expected by the university later today with an introductory press conference expected on Wednesday.
Taggart, a Palmetto, Florida, native and former South Florida head coach who has worked under Jack and Jim Harbaugh, became one of the hottest available coaches in the country after his final season with the Bulls in 2016.
Now, Taggart will be tasked with replacing Jimbo Fisher, who won a national title in 2013 and was introduced as Texas A&M’s new coach Monday after agreeing to a 10-year deal worth $75 million guaranteed.
Florida State officials met with Taggart after he took a recruiting trip in Arizona on Monday. He informed Oregon players of his intention to take the FSU job on Tuesday afternoon, according to a source.
The Seminoles hope for a fresh start under Taggart, who will be FSU’s third coach since 1976, joining legendary coach Bobby Bowden (1976-2009) and Fisher (2010-17), and the 10th coach in program history.
Terms of Taggart’s agreement with FSU are not known at this time.
Taggart led Oregon to a 7-5 record this season, an improvement from its 4-8 record a season ago, despite losing starting quarterback Justin Herbert to a collarbone injury for much of the season.
Taggart has a 47-50 overall record in his eight seasons as a head coach, but he rebuilt Western Kentucky and USF to winning programs after his brief tenures at both schools.
At USF, Taggart’s record gradually climbed from 2-10, 4-8, 8-5 to 10-2 from 2013-16, where the Bulls ranked 19th in the final Associated Press poll in his final season.
Taggart’s coaching career began immediately after graduating from WKU in 1997. He served as an assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and position coach under Jack Harbaugh for seven seasons, highlighted by a Division I-AA national title in 2002
Current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh hired Taggart as an assistant at Stanford, where he coached running backs for from 2007-09, guiding Heisman Trophy finalist Toby Gerhart.
Taggart won two games in his first season as Western Kentucky’s head coach, matching the same winning total in the previous two seasons, before consecutive 7-5 seasons in 2011 and 2012. Taggart led WKU to the program’s first bowl game in his final season before taking the USF job.
Taggart, who won a state 5A championship at Bradenton Manatee High in 1992 and was runner up in 1993, also has extensive ties to the state of Florida that could help in recruiting.
Florida State hopes Taggart can revive the 2018 recruiting class, which dropped to 32nd this week after losing seven pledges. Under Fisher, the Seminoles had eight consecutive top 10 recruiting classes.
“I think that’s very important that they are able to recruit in the state of Florida. That’s what we’ve always been able to do,” Wilcox said about potential coaching candidates after FSU’s bowl-clinching win over Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.
“If they have a proven track record of being a great recruiter, and a great recruiter in the state of Florida and South Florida, that’s going to be a very good criteria we’re looking for.”
Taggart becomes the first African American coach at Florida State — a feat he also accomplished at Western Kentucky, USF and Oregon.
While Taggart would have to move swiftly to secure FSU’s recruiting class, he would take over a roster built to compete immediately in the Atlantic Coast Conference after the Seminoles coaching staff secured Top 10 recruiting classes in all eight seasons of Fisher’s tenure.
Florida State hopes Taggart can help the Seminoles quickly contend for its first ACC championship and College Football Playoff berth since 2014.