After Saturday’s embarrassing 27-10 loss to the Miami Hurricanes at home, the Florida State Seminoles fired head coach Willie Taggart.
Now, the race is on to find a new head coach to lead the once-proud program back to national prominence.
After falling to Miami, which was 4-4 going into the matchup and trending as a 3-point underdog against FSU at home, Florida State Athletic Director David Coburn indicated to the media that there was no advantage in delaying the inevitable.
“There’s a lot of ways to measure what was happening with the team. I thought that at the beginning of the season we were making progress. Clemson was a disappointment and I just felt and the president felt since then we just have not looked very good. …
It was not an easy decision. You have to look at season-ticket sales, renewals, new tickets moving forward. Obviously, those are tied to booster contributions to the annual fund. You’re looking at the implications for concessions, parking, you look at that vis-a-vis the cost of a buyout, cost of a new coaching staff, you have to make a decision.”
With three games left, the 4-5 Seminoles are looking at a practical best-case outcome of 6-6 – which Coburn called “not good enough” – as they face the 10th-ranked Florida Gators on the road to end the season in a game that should be a wipeout for FSU.
Before that UF finale, the Noles play Boston College and Alabama State, both winnable games, and both must-wins if FSU intends to regain bowl eligibility after missing out on the postseason for the first time in 36 years during Taggart’s initial 2018 campaign with the team.
While the conventional wisdom in such circumstances is to install an interim head coach to serve out the season (which FSU did in tapping defensive line assistant coach Odell Haggins for the role), Florida State is clearly in a hurry to sign a big name to the once-elite position.
Part of the reason for the rush is that several top-flight recruits decommitted from FSU in the aftermath of the Hurricanes loss and Taggart firing.
These include three-star cornerback Derek Bermudez of Jacksonville, FL, four-star recruit Isaiah Dunson of Tucker, GA, and the team’s second-biggest commitment, running back Jaylan Knighton of Deerfield Beach, FL.
Knighton is ranked 88th overall in the 2020 national recruitment class per the ESPN 300, and FSU is scrambling to get recommitments from these players while preventing further defections.
In order to do that, the school needs a splashy hire.
On Monday, local Tallahassee media outlets were reporting that former Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops could be signed by the end of the week, though those reports have not been corroborated by other outlets.
Who might take the reins remains a mystery.
Because of the intrigue, of course, there is betting interest in the impending FSU hire, and offshore US sportsbook BetOnline has posted odds on the top perceived contenders for the position.
Odds For Next FSU Head Coach
- Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach +300
- Mark Stoops, Kentucky head coach +300
- Bob Stoops, former Oklahoma head coach +500
- James Franklin, Penn State head coach +500
- P.J. Fleck, Minnesota head coach +600
- Urban Meyer, former Ohio State/Florida head coach +600
- Josh Heupel, UCF head coach +700
- Dino Babers, Syracuse head coach +1000
- Matt Rhule, Baylor head coach +1000
- Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M head coach, former FSU head coach +1500
- Jim Harbaugh, Michigan +2000
- Bobby Bowden, former FSU head coach +5000
While Fisher and Bowden are not credible nominees for the post, Campbell and both Stoops brothers seem like good fits. Fleck has also made a name for himself at Minnesota, but like Campbell, he may not have the immediate name recognition FSU needs to salvage their recruiting class and bolster future recruitment in the near term.
Interestingly, Washington State head coach Mike Leach, though touted as being on the shortlist for the FSU position by the mainstream sports media, did not make BetOnline’s boards, as he seems at home in Pullman.
Regardless of whom FSU picks to be its next head coach, the school will expect a win-now mentality with the performance to back it up. Coming off a sub-.500 season and a likely .500 campaign in 2019, that could be a big ask.
Still, expect FSU’s next head coach to bring the team back to its top-tier ranking in both the ACC and the AP Top 25.