Willie Taggart is a former football (American) player who abandoned playing for the coaching job and has excelled at it; he is currently one of the best college coaches in the U.S. Before accepting to replace Jimbo Fisher in 2017 as the head coach of Florida State. Taggart coached Western Kentucky (2009-2012), South Florida (2013-2016) and Oregon (2017) breaking records as the first Black football coach in each of these teams.
Taking over Fisher’s job in December 2017, Willie Taggart became Florida State’s first permanent Black football coach. Here is all you should know about the FSU coach including his biography and rise to prominence.
Who is Willie Taggart?
The FSU coach was born in Bradenton, Florida on the 27th of August 1976 to Gloria James and John Taggart. Willie is not an only child; he has three sisters – Cynthia Taggart, Eddie Butler, and Charlene Taggart.
He recalls how his dad did all manner of jobs from picking oranges, tomatoes, and watermelons to working at Darlene Shells for about three decades to support his family. Although John is no more, he remains Willie’s role model. John Taggart died in August 2017 after battling with cancer, he was aged 70.
Everything To Know About The FSU Coach
Willie Taggart has been married to Taneshia Taggart since 1999 and together they have three children: a daughter (Morgan) and two sons (Willie Jr. and Jackson).
Willie Taggart attended Bradenton Manatee High School, Florida, where he began playing American football. As a junior, Willie helped to lead his school football team to the state title and to make a 26-4 record. He also recorded over 3000 passing yards and 975 ground yards. As a senior, Taggart led the Hurricanes to the state 5A Championship game and earned an all-conference selection. He is also a recipient of a first team all-state.
After high school, he played college football at Western Kentucky as a quarterback and became the third WKU player to be a four-year starter in the last fifty years and one of four players to have their jerseys retired. Willie Taggart is a two-time Walter Payton Award finalist. He was an All-American as a senior and won I-AA Independents’ Offensive Player of the Year award in 1998.
After graduating from college in 1998, Willie Taggart stayed back at WKU as an assistant, he served as a co-offensive coordinator under Jack Harbaugh during the 2002 Division I-AA national championship. Harbaugh became Stanford Cardinal football team’s coach in 2006 and still hired Taggart as his running backs coach and also saddled him with the responsibility of recruiting in the state of Florida, California, Georgia, Riverside County, and Kentucky. Willie remained at Stanford for two seasons.
In 2010, Taggart returned to his alma mater, Western Kentucky, not as a player nor an assistant this time, but as Hilltoppers’ head coach. In his first year as the team’s coach, they broke a 26-game losing streak and ended the season with a record of 2–10.
The following year, Willie Taggart led the Hilltoppers bowl-eligible record of 7–5 although they were not invited to the bowl; in 2012 they were invited to the bowl after making a bowl-eligible record as the previous year, unfortunately, Taggart was not there to coach them as he already accepted the head coach position at South Florida.
In his first as the Bulls’ head coach, the team finished with a 4–8 record. The Bulls ended the 2015 season with an 8–5 record to earn the bowl eligibility for the first time in five years; they, however, lost to WKU at the Bowl. The following year, the team had a 10–2 record to win a share of the AAC East division – this became their first double-digit in the history of college football.
In December 2016, Taggart replaced Mark Helfrich as Oregon’s new head coach. His hire drew attention to the number of African-American as head coaches in major college football across the country. In less than a year with the Ducks, they beat Arizona, Nebraska and their rival Oregon State but were beaten by Washington, Stanford, and UCLA. The team lost the bowl to Boise State after Taggart left to assume his position as Florida’s head coach.
His Height and Weight
The Florida native stands at a height of 6 ft 2 in and weighs 170-pounds. Growing up, Taggart was skinny framed with a big head, thus he was nicknamed “skull,” – a named that followed him all through high school.