Why Willie Taggart might succeed or fail at Florida State
After a relatively simple coaching search, Florida State has landed Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. The program's Jimbo Fisher era will be tough to duplicate, as it included three ACC titles and a national championship, but it stands to reason that Taggart has a shot at doing just that.
Below, Rivals.com breaks down three reasons why he’s the right man for the job and will succeed in Tallahassee and also outlines two reasons why he may fail.
WHY HE MIGHT SUCCEED
He’s had success recruiting Florida from 3,000 miles away.
While at Oregon, Taggart landed commitments from four-star prospects Warren Thompson and Isaiah Bolden despite each being high on FSU’s target list. Landing Thompson, one of the top receivers in America, was especially impressive, as his father made no secrets about his love for the Seminoles. Convincing two players with options to pass on the successful program located a short drive away from their family homes to attend college in the Pacific Northwest is a massive task, and Taggart was up to it.
Oregon currently has four commitments from Florida-based athletes in its 2018 class and most of they all had legitimate options closer to home. When you consider the recruiting damage Taggart was able to do from thousands of miles away, it stands to reason that things should be a breeze now that he’s recruiting to a storied program located within his favorite recruiting ground.
He’s proven capable of righting ships
Both of Taggart’s previous head coaching stops have been rebuilds of sorts. He took over a Western Kentucky team coming off of a 0-12 season and turned it into a back-to-back seven-win team in just two seasons. It was the same story at South Florida, where it took Taggart just three seasons to make a 3-9 team 8-5.
In that way, he’s the perfect fit to fix FSU’s season-long mishap, as the Seminoles are stocked with talent despite their 6-6 record. Taggart will have one of his most talented teams next year and should be able to get the program straightened out in a hurry.
He knows the lay of the recruiting land
Recruiting Florida is a learned skill. The landscape is different than it is in most places and high school coaches aren’t as involved in the process as they are in other states. Trainers, 7-on-7 coaches and other advisors rule the roost in some areas. It’s why it helps that Taggart, a Florida native and former USF head coach, has been around the block in the Sunshine State. He’ll arrive in Tallahassee with the proper relationships and knowledge of how things work in the area. Taking a job at a Florida school often comes with a recruiting learning curve, but Taggart will bypass that in Tallahassee.
WHY HE MIGHT FAIL
His experience on the big stage is limited
Taggart has spent just one season as the head coach of a Power Five team. His experience as a Power Five assistant is limited to two seasons at Stanford. The stage he will inhibit in Tallahassee is larger than the one he occupied in Oregon, and the expectations will match. Handling pressure is an important trait for a major head coach and the expectation to win quickly in Tallahassee isn’t going anywhere. Taggart must get off to a hot start at FSU or risk the fan base souring on him in a hurry.
His career record is underwhelming
Eventually, you get too experienced to be viewed as a “up-and-coming head coach,” and that day is approaching quickly for Taggart. Eventually, you have to win at a high level and Taggart has fast-forwarded that timeline by accepting this job. Despite stabilizing a handful couple of programs, FSU’s next head coach boasts a 47-50 overall record. He’s only once won 10 games and debuted with a 7-5 campaign at Oregon. Taggart’s back-to-back 7-5 seasons at Western Kentucky got him the USF job. Doing the same thing at FSU would put him on the hot seat.