Florida State introduces Willie Taggart as next head coach

As the ink is still drying on Jimbo Fisher’s monster 10-year, $75 million contract with Texas A&M, his previous school found his replacement in Tallahassee.

Willie Taggart was introduced as the Florida State Seminoles’ next head football coach on Wednesday morning.

“It goes without saying that Coach Taggart is among the most highly respected and successful coaches in the country,” athletics director Stan Wilcox said before introducing Taggart. ” … When we spoke to Coach Taggart about our coaching position and this opportunity, the energy, the passion and his philosophy were exactly what we were looking for.”

Taggart, a former running backs coach at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh, helped turn around programs at Western Kentucky and South Florida in his first two head coaching jobs. The Bradenton, Fla., native led South Florida to a 10-2 record and top-25 finish in 2016 before accepting the Oregon job. The 41-year-old coach posted a 7-5 record in his first season with the Ducks.

Taggart opened his first-ever news conference by addressing his well-documented lifelong fandom of Florida State: “I want to start off by just telling everyone, ‘Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams.’ … Growing up in my household, if you wasn’t a ‘Noles fan you probably weren’t staying in the house.”

Taggart referenced moving closer to his family as another important factor in the “tough” decision to leave Oregon after just 12 games.

Though the 2017 Seminoles are guaranteed to finish with fewer than eight wins for the first time since Bobby Bowden’s final season in 2009, Taggart inherits the most talented roster of his career. From 2014 to 2017, Fisher’s recruiting classes did not finish outside the top-six nationally.

Taggart is the program’s first external hire since tabbing Bowden out of West Virginia in 1975.