Coaching Carousel: Willie Stay? Or Willie Go? Taggart Heads To FSU


As if college football wasn’t already exciting enough, add in the start of the coaching carousel, and we’re on the edge of our seats. It’s prime time for schools to start firing, hiring or making offers and we’ve got all the possibilities of who is going where.

Willie Taggart Is Heading Back To The Sunshine State

Former USF head coach Willie Taggart should’ve hired a fortune teller last year before leaving South Florida for Oregon. Maybe a fortune teller could’ve saved Taggart a trip across the country resulting in him coming back to Florida a year later.

On Tuesday news broke that after just one season with Oregon, Taggart and Florida State reached an agreement to become the Seminoles’ next head coach.

The coach went 7-5 during his first season with the Ducks after spending four seasons with USF where he went 24-25. Taggart met with FSU officials on Monday after USF’s current coach Charlie Strong met with FSU officials on Sunday.

Last week Oregon reportedly offered Taggart a new deal of a little more than $20 million over five years, but the coach accepted the FSU job before giving Oregon an answer.

Taggart becomes Florida State’s third head coach in the past 43 years replacing Jimbo Fisher who left to take the Texas A&M coaching job. Before Fisher, Bobby Bowden coached FSU for 34 years.

UCF Hires Missouri Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel

The UCF Knights found a great replacement for Scott Frost in Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. That wasn’t the only hire for the Knights, Heupel immediately hired former UF interim coach Randy Shannon as his defensive coordinator.

The hire makes sense for UCF, and the similarities between Frost and Heupel are dead on. While Frost won a national title at Nebraska, Heupel was also a college quarterback who won a national title at an elite school.

The former offensive coordinator is known for his high-scoring offenses. In Missouri’s last two games the Tigers’ offense had close to 700 total yards each game.

Where In The World Is Les Miles? Could He Be In Tennessee?

Have you noticed one unique name that has been missing from this coaching carousel? Former LSU head coach Les Miles has been talked about very little with all of these openings.

When SEC schools such as Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi State began searching for their next head coach none of them directed even a glance towards Miles. Now The Mad Hatter is sitting and waiting.

This Sept. 17, 2016, file photo shows LSU head coach Les Miles watching from the sideline in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Baton Rouge, La. Two people familiar with the decision say LSU has fired Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoted defensive line coach Ed Orgeron to interim head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made. Miles firing comes one day after LSU lost 18-13 at Auburn. Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, file.

But that could all come to an end very shortly. Go Vols 247 reported that new Vols director Phillip Fulmer has reached out to the Mad Hatter, along with other candidates. Though there is no real news on this hire, the 64-year-old coach has been seeking a coaching job ever since LSU fired him in 2016.

Other names that have been dropped during the coaching hunt include Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and former Vols quarterback Tee Martin.

Hopefully, the Vols can find their next coach soon. The search hasn’t gone smoothly for the school after backing out of a deal with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and being turned down by Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, and N.C. State’s Dave Doeren.

Mississippi State Hires Joe Moorhead

Just as speculation was growing as to who Mississippi State was targeting, the rumors and whispers were hushed when the school announced the hiring of Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead as their new head coach.

Moorhead helped guide the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten championship last year and heated up the record books with his explosive offense.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be a Mississippi State Bulldog,” Moorhead said in a statement, per ESPN. “I am thrilled to take the reins of an SEC program that has been as successful as this one has the past decade. I look forward to getting to know the young men on our team, hiring a staff and hitting the recruiting trail quickly.”

The new coach will be introduced on Thursday, replacing former head coach Dan Mullen who was hired at Florida on Sunday.

 

Dan Mullen Brings Todd Grantham To Florida

Florida’s new head coach Dan Mullen is already piecing together his coaching staff, and it’s looking good for the Gators.

According to ESPN, Mullen is bringing Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator Todd Grantham with him to Florida. Grantham will replace Randy Shannon, who was Florida’s interim head coach following Jim McElwain’s firing.

Grantham was with the Bulldogs for one year where he helped design one of the nation’s best defensive turnarounds. Last year Mississippi State ranked 110th in total yards allowed and 93rd in scoring defense, this year the Bulldogs ranked 10th in defense and 24th in scoring defense.

Mullen was hired by Florida’s athletic director Scott Stricklin on Sunday after he told the Bulldogs he would not be returning for another season. Stricklin and Mullen go way back working together from 2009 to 2016 in Starkville where Stricklin was Mullen’s AD. Before that Mullen was Florida’s offensive coordinator from 2005-08 and won two national titles while guiding former Gators’ quarterback Tim Tebow to numerous school records.

Davey O’Brien Award winner Tim Tebow, right, of Florida stands with quarterback coach Dan Mullen at the Home Depot College Football awards in Orlando Fla. on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007. Photo: AP Photo/Reinhold Matay.

“I strongly believe Dan is the most prepared candidate to have immediate and long-term success at the University of Florida,” Stricklin said to the Associated Press. “Coach Mullen is one of the best offensive minds in all of the college football, and has an unbelievable track record in tutoring successful quarterbacks.”

A successful quarterback is an area Florida hasn’t been able to get right lately. Besides Tebow, Mullen had a role in developing Alex Smith (Utah), Chris Leak (Florida), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) and current Mississippi State starter Nick Fitzgerald.

The hire is safe but the right one for the Gators and it’ll be exciting to see where the coach can lead the once dominant SEC team.

Iowa State Took Matt Campbell Off The Market

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell, center, watches from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Ames, Iowa. Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall.

In other headlines, Matt Campbell was a name whispered before Florida hired Dan Mullen and Chip Kelly went to UCLA. We say whispered because Campbell would owe Iowa State $9.4 million considering he had four years left of his six-year deal with the school. But for schools like Florida with loyal boosters that was just a number.

Iowa State took care of any rumors or schools targeting their coach though. On Monday Campbell and the Cyclones inked a new deal worth $22.5 million over six years. Well played Iowa State, well played.

Arkansas Got Burned By Auburn

Arkansas is no longer on the ‘Gus Bus’ as many reported. Auburn finalized a deal with head coach Gus Malzahn for $49 million over seven years. That halted the Razorbacks’ pursue of Malzahn.

Now Arkansas is back on the hunt, and while we think Memphis’ Mike Norvell would be a good fit at Tennessee, it seems the Razorbacks think he’ll be a good fit in Fayetteville.

Also being pursued is SMU’s Chad Morris who has improved his win total each season. He went from two to five to seven wins since 2015 with his tempo-based spread offense.

Memphis head coach Mike Norvell watches from the sideline in the first half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey.

Norvell just led his Memphis Tigers to an AAC Championship appearance. The Tigers took UCF to two overtimes before falling to the Knights. Memphis will take on Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30.

Chip Kelly To UCLA

One of the biggest headlines of the weekend to kick off the coaching carousel was former Oregon head coach and NFL coach Chip Kelly heading to UCLA. After meetings with Florida and the Bruins, news broke that Kelly was heading to UCLA to rebuild one of college football’s elite. It makes sense given Kelly has a history of recruiting the Los Angeles area during his time at Oregon.

“I think he has great West Coast ties from what he did getting all those L.A. kids go up to Oregon,” said Jason Negro, the coach at Bellflower St. John Bosco High, to the Los Angeles Times. “And it’s a lot easier getting L.A. kids go to UCLA than Eugene. He’s going to have a great advantage.”

Recruiting has already seen a change since the hiring. Brendan Radley-Hiles, a cornerback from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla, was considering UCLA months ago. A day after the school hired Kelly, Radley-Hiles posted a picture of himself in a UCLA uniform on Twitter.

Photo: AP Foto/Marcio Jose Sanchez.

Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, is considered the Bruins’ top prospect. He reaffirmed his commitment following the hiring with a tweet of Will Smith dancing with the caption: Mood: 4sUp,” which is UCLA’s recruiting slogan.

Kelly became the highest paid coach in California after signing the five-year, $23.3 million deal. We have to wait ten months to see what kind of tricks Kelly will bring to the table, but at least we’ll get a glimpse within the next few weeks as the new head coach begins putting together his coaching staff.

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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.