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It’s official: Florida State hires Willie Taggart as coach

Willie Taggart
Jaime Valdez/USA TODAY Sports

Willie Taggart is headed home.

Taggart – a Florida native – has been hired as Florida State’s coach, replacing Jimbo Fisher, the school announced Tueday afternoon. Taggart, 41, is in his first season at Oregon. Taggart also has coached at Western Kentucky and USF.

Fisher resigned at FSU last Friday, and speculation immediately centered on Taggart as the preferred replacement. While he is under .500 in his career as a head coach, he took over rebuilding jobs at Western Kentucky (his alma mater) and USF.

Taggart is a former assistant to Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, as running backs coach from 2007-09; he was a quarterback for Jack Harbaugh, Jim’s dad, at Western Kentucky.

Taggart was Western Kentucky’s coach from 2010-12 and he was at USF from 2013-16.

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Taggart should have no issues with recruiting in Florida. In addition, his staff at Oregon includes four assistants who are well-versed in recruiting the state in Jim Leavitt, Mario Cristobal, Raymond Woodie and Donte Pimpleton. It still is unclear whether Leavitt or Cristobal — both of whom are former head coaches and conceivably could be in play to replace Taggart at Oregon — will come with Taggart to FSU.

Taggart runs a version of the spread, and his quarterbacks have been highly productive at Western, USF and Oregon.

He will be just the third FSU coach in the past 42 years. Bobby Bowden was hired in 1975, and Fisher replaced him in 2010. This is the first time FSU has gone through a coaching search since Bowden was hired. Fisher was on Bowden’s staff as the offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting when Bowden retired.

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