The Willie Taggart era in Tallahassee is over before it ever really started as Florida State has fired its head coach before he completed his second year. The major question now is what coaches are the top candidates to replace Taggart at Florida State.
Florida State was once one of the top college football programs in the country but is now not even competing to win the ACC. The Seminoles struggled towards the end of Jimbo Fisher’s time at Florida State and completely imploded the last two seasons under Taggart.
“I spoke to Coach Taggart this afternoon to let him know of our decision,” Florida State athletic director David Coburn said, per ESPN. “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.”
The question for Florida State is whether they will look to bring on an experienced head coach or snag a young coordinator who will likely come with a lower price tag. Veterans like Urban Meyer, Mark Richt and Les Miles are all coaches that are sure to get mentioned, even if there is no interest by either party.
Here is a look at the top candidates to replace Taggart as the next Florida State head coach.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky Head Coach
Stoops is going to get mentioned a lot because of his connection to Florida State. Stoops was a Florida State defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from 2010 to 2012. The Wildcats head coach has done a remarkable job turning around a Kentucky program that was a bottom dweller when he arrived. Stoops has the right mix of experience and knowledge of the Florida State program to make him a serious candidate.
“Gotta think Kentucky’s Mark Stoops would be on the list at Florida State. At least he should be. He’s done a remarkable job in Lexington. Former Noles DC,” St. Louis Dispatch’s Dave Matter tweeted.
Mark Richt, Former Miami Head Coach
Richt is sure to be mentioned as a potential candidate in Tallahassee given his ties to the university. Richt was a coordinator at Florida State during the university’s glory years under Bobby Bowden. The former Georgia and Miami coach makes a lot of sense if it were not for his recent health scare.
Richt is just months removed from a heart attack, and the coach admitted health played a role in his retirement from Miami. Richt provided a bit of an update on his health back in October.
“It’s Wednesday morning, I’m checking out of Sacred Heart Hospital here in Miramar Beach (Florida),” Richt said in a social media video, per Miami Herald. “They took unbelievable care of me. I feel great. I’m looking forward to getting a little bit of rest and then getting back to work. But God bless everybody who has been praying for me and for my family. It’s been wonderful. I felt the prayers, and they worked. I love you guys. Bye.”
Tony Elliott, Clemson Co-Offensive Coorindator
Could Florida State look to regain their footing in the ACC by picking someone from the Dabo Swinney coaching tree? Tony Elliott has been mentioned as a hot name for head coaching vacancies for the past several years, but so far has remained at Clemson. Elliott has experience recruiting in the ACC and has a distant connection to Florida State since he played under Bobby Bowden’s son, Tommy Bowden, at Clemson.
Mike Norvell, Memphis Head Coach
Norvell has been mentioned as a coaching candidate for a number of Power-Five jobs but continues to remain at Memphis. The Tigers are having one of their best seasons during the Norvell era, and the head coach could look to strike while the iron is hot.
There have been rumors that questions about Norvell have been raised during the interview process which has prevented him from landing a marquee job. Norvell would give Florida State a coach with plenty of experience, but the demands of coaching at Florida State are much different than Memphis.
Urban Meyer, Former Ohio State Head Coach
Meyer can continue to deny rumors of a return to coaching, but the former Ohio State coach will continue to get mentioned as a candidate. Meyer has a history of short-lived retirements, and it would be surprising if the Seminoles do not at least place a call to gauge his interest. Florida State is not the kind of job he left at Ohio State, but perhaps the year off was enough to re-energize Meyer to return to coaching for a few more years.
Meyer would be the toughest of all the candidates mentioned for Florida State to land. The former Ohio State head coach noted to Buckeye Xtra that believes he is done coaching (via Saturday Down South).
Did Meyer have any interest in nipping that in the bud or in opening the crack to the door?
“I learned my lesson long ago,” he said. “All I’m going to say is I believe I’m done (coaching). I think I’m done.”