Florida State fires head coach Willie Taggart day after loss to Miami

Taggart dismissed after 9-12 record, including 0-5 mark against rivals

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State University has fired head football coach Willie Taggart, a day after the Seminoles lost to rival Miami at home.

Athletic director David Coburn announced the decision Sunday in a news release.

"I spoke to coach Taggart this afternoon to let him know our decision," Coburn said. "I met with the team and coaches immediately after that conversation to let them know of the change."

Longtime assistant coach Odell Haggins will serve as interim head coach. Haggins previously served as interim coach for the Seminoles for two games in 2017 after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.

Taggart released a statement on Twitter after the announcement, saying that he was "disappointed in the decision today as I believe our future is bright at Florida State."

"Building a program and culture takes time, and I regret that we will not have the opportunity to continue to coach these incredible young men," he said.

Taggart becomes the first head football coach to be fired since Darrell Mudra in 1975. His tenure is the shortest of any head coach since Perry Moss left Florida State after the 1959 season to coach the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Taggart coached just 21 games, one fewer than Mudra.

The Seminoles finished 5-7 in Taggart's first year at Florida State -- the first losing season in Tallahassee since Bobby Bowden's first year in 1976 -- and failed to make a bowl game for the first time since 1981. Both streaks were the longest in the nation.

Florida State (4-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost to rival Miami 27-10 on Saturday, falling to 9-12 overall and 6-9 in the ACC. He was also 0-5 against Florida State's biggest rivals -- Clemson, Florida and Miami -- including four of them by double digits.

The Seminoles had been one of the nation's most consistent programs for the past four decades, winning two national championships under Bowden in the 1990s and again under Fisher in 2013.

"I think very highly of coach Taggart and wish him well, but in the interest of the university we had no choice but to make a change," FSU President John Thrasher said in a statement. "We will support our student-athletes in every way and do all we can to return to the winning tradition that is Seminole football."

Coburn said a national search for a replacement will begin immediately.

Haggins was 2-0 as interim coach in 2017, leading the Seminoles to their 41st consecutive winning season with victories against Louisiana-Monroe -- a game rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma -- and Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl.

"On behalf of my family and I, we wish Florida State nothing but the best and will be cheering on the Seminoles the rest of the way," Taggart said.

About the Authors:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019.