Willie Taggart to leave Oregon to become FSU head coach

By Chris Torello and Digital Media Staff,
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 9:49 PM EST

Willie Taggart is returning to the state of Florida, sources told Spectrum Sports.

Florida State University and Taggart, the current Oregon and former University of South Florida coach, have reached agreement on a deal for six years and $30 million.

Taggart confirmed the agreement to ESPN, and the school has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. Wednesday to introduce him.

He will replace Jimbo Fisher, who left after eight years to coach at Texas A&M.

About two weeks ago sources informed Spectrum Sports that officials at Oregon were becoming more and more concerned that Taggart could be poached by one of two schools: Florida and Florida State. At this time, prior to Thanksgiving, Florida was still dealing with the drama of landing Chip Kelly (before hiring Dan Mullen away from Mississippi State).

Oregon remained concerned as news continued to come out that Jimbo Fisher, at the time still with FSU, would leave for Texas A&M and see Taggart as a primary candidate. It was eight or nine days ago when Taggart's name was put through a vetting process by FSU offiicials.

One reason for moving ahead with searching for potential replacements is that this year is the first in which there is an Early Signing Period for college football recruits. It is on Dec. 20. So schools feel the need to make faster hires and try to have the coaching searches done in a quicker manner.

Following Fisher's departure on Friday, FSU officials knew they wanted to meet with Taggart. As of Friday evening out in Oregon, Taggart spoke for the first time of these coaching rumors. When asked if he was going to be at Oregon his response was "Why wouldn't I be? It's like you guys are trying to get rid of me."

At this time it was reported that Taggart had a contract extension on the table from Oregon for 5 years and $20 million. In 2017, Taggart made $2.9 million and was slated to make $3.050 million in 2018 under his original deal. This proposed deal would give Taggart a $4 million a year salary. Taggart said he was aware of the extension and was having his agent look it over before signing or not signing the contract.

On Sunday, with more reports surfacing about a potential deal between Taggart and FSU, he reiterated nothing was going on at that time: "There is no decision to be made. I am still happy. Nothing has changed since (Friday)."

On Monday morning Taggart was on a recruiting trip in Arizona. After meeting with his first recruit of the day, he postponed other meetings planned in Arizona and Texas. That is when he began his first true contact with FSU.

Taggart returned to Eugene, Oregon, that night. Sources told Spectrum Sports that the framework of a deal had been put in place. And on Tuesday the only thing to do was work on language within the buyout of the Oregon contract plus trying to get coaches to come with him to Tallahassee.

It was a longer process than expected. But in the end, Taggart accepted the deal and is now on his way to being the next coach at FSU.

Taggart's coaching record is 47-50 overall. He went 7-5 during his only season at Oregon.

Just like at Western Kentucky, USF and Oregon, Taggart becomes the first African American head coach in program history at FSU.