Florida State coaching candidates: Bob Stoops, Mark Stoops lead replacements for Willie Taggart
Who will step in for Taggart with the Seminoles? Florida State fans should probably be realistic
The Florida State job is now open. Willie Taggart was fired on Sunday afternoon following a loss to Miami that dropped the Seminoles to 4-5 on the season, 9-12 in his tenure and 0-5 against its biggest rivals. Now Florida State will be conducting its second coaching search in three years after not having one for 41 years considering the transition from Bobby Bowden to Jimbo Fisher
But who will the Seminoles find to will replace Taggart?
Well, while Florida State has had a rough go of it the last few years, this is still a blue-blood program at which you can win a national championship. It is a desirable job. Fisher won a title at FSU just seven years ago. This remains a destination job, not a stepping stone. It's the kind of job that could lure a Power Five coach away from their current gig, but considering the state of the locker room, is also one that could require the Noles to get creative.
Odds are Florida State has already begun compiling its list of candidates, and we here at CBS Sports have our own. Some of these are more realistic than others, of course, but there shouldn't be any shortage of candidates for the Noles job.
If you're a dreamer ...
Bob Stoops, XFL coach and former Oklahoma coach: Stoops stepped down from Oklahoma when he could have possibly added another national title to his resume. He was ready to walk away from college football, but what if he's itching to get back in the game? He has since accepted a job coaching the XFL's Dallas Renegades, so he clearly wants to be around football. But does he want to go back to the 24/7, 365 lifestyle that is college coaching? Couldn't hurt to ask!
Urban Meyer, former Florida and Ohio State coach: Florida State's made it clear that this isn't going to happen, nor do I think it's realistic. But ... he's Meyer. Would the USC job be a better fit? Yes. Would Florida fans throw a fit? Yes. I feel like not considering it is doing a disservice to your program, but if you're Meyer, you probably want to step into a better situation (like USC ... or Notre Dame one day in the future). Meyer has also been on a bit of a reclamation tore with Gators fans since he left the Buckeyes.
If you're a realist ...
Mark Stoops, Kentucky coach: If you can't get Bob Stoops, why not his brother? He doesn't get much national attention, but Mark Stoops has done a fantastic job at Kentucky. Stoops spent three seasons as Florida State's defensive coordinator before taking over a Kentucky program without much success or history, and he's built it into something respectable. The Wildcats won 10 games in 2018 and are 4-4 this season despite being so beset by injuries that they've had to use a receiver at quarterback. He's also recruited well. Given the power of Florida State behind him, he could rejuvenate the program in Tallahassee, Florida.
Mike Leach, Washington State coach: Depending on who you ask, Leach nearly left Washington State for Tennessee a couple of years ago. Given how much time he spends in Key West, Florida, you have to think he'd have some interest in coaching in the Sunshine State -- even at the opposite end.
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota coach: Would Fleck row his boat down to Tallahassee? While Fleck has a personality that you're either going to love or hate, it's hard to question what he's done as a coach. The 38-year-old led Western Michigan to a Cotton Bowl before leaving for Minnesota, and now in his third year with the Gophers, he's 8-0 entering November. He's also a diligent recruiter, which is something that will definitely be on FSU's checklist.
Brent Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator | Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Would Florida State be the kind of job to finally lure Venables away? Would he want to go head-to-head with Dabo Swinney in the ACC after such a long working relationship? Nobody needs to tell Florida State about the job Venables has done with the Clemson defense. Maybe he could bring some of that success to Tallahassee. And while shopping in the Clemson Coordinator Aisle, how about the guy calling the plays on offense?
Mike Norvell, Memphis coach: Norvell is going to get a Power Five job at some point. I think? Maybe he won't because you'd figure he'd already have one by now considering what he's accomplished at Memphis. The Tigers are poised to play for the AAC tile once again and may be the Group of Five's representative in the New Year's Six bowls this postseason.
Dave Clawson, Wake Forest coach: It wouldn't be sexy, but Clawson is a program builder that's done well for himself wherever he's gone. The question is if that makes sense for a Florida State program that's not exactly in the mood to wait anymore. That said, it does need to be rebuilt, and it could do far worse.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati coach: Fickell is a similar candidate to Matt Campbell, though he hasn't coached at the Power Five level yet. He has Cincinnati looking strong in the AAC, but the former Ohio State linebacker has spent his entire coaching career in the state of Ohio.
Lane Kiffin, FAU coach: Hey, it wouldn't be a coaching candidate post if it didn't include Kiffin, right? Kiffin is coaching in the state and has done a fine job recruiting both high school prospects and transfers to FAU. The Owls went 11-3 in his first season, and after a rough 2018, are 6-3 now looking to make some noise in Conference USA. He obviously already has Power Five coaching experience at Tennessee and USC, but FSU may be risk-adverse in this search.
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