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Five Candidates to Replace Willie Taggart at Florida State

MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 05:  Head coach Matt Rhule of the Baylor Bears reacts after a play against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on October 5, 2019 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Florida State announced they fired Willie Taggart on Sunday, which means the Seminoles will need a new head football.

After athletic director David Coburn claimed the school wouldn't pursue Urban Meyer under any circumstances, it's time to consider other candidates. What follows is a list of five accomplished coaches who should all be candidates to replace Taggart.

Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule should be the top candidate for a ton of jobs that will open up over the next few weeks and months after what he's done at Baylor in the three years since his arrival. Rhule took over a disaster of a program, went 1-11 in his first season, 7-6 in year two and now has the Bears at 8-0 in 2019. He authored a similar turnaround at Temple over four seasons starting in 2013. The Seminoles will need someone to work that kind of magic on their broken program.

The only issue here is whether or not the 44-year-old Rhule gets calls from NFL teams. He already interviewed for the New York Jets' in 2019, but reportedly passed on the job. If Florida State could lock him in for big money, it would be a massive coup.

Matt Campbell

Matt Campbell has Iowa State looking like a respectable football program again after years of being a Big 12 doormat. He turned Toledo into one of the best programs in the MAC over five seasons starting in 2011. Despite limited resources and barren recruiting grounds, he's 24-22 at Iowa State and 16-16 in conference, while pulling off some stunning upsets. In 2018 the Cyclones knocked off No. 25 Oklahoma State and No. 6 West Virginia in back-to-back weeks, while in 2017 they bested No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 TCU.

With more resources and better players, Campbell could be a top-tier head coach. Someone is going to take the chance on hiring him and the former defensive lineman and offensive line coach would restore toughness to Florida State's roster.

Bob Stoops

I don't know about you but I'm fairly certain Bob Stoops won't be satisfied being the head coach and general manager of the XFL's Dallas Renegades. The 59-year-old head coach is going to want to get back into the real game at some point. And why not? He is a legit Hall of Fame coach, after winning a national championship and 10 Big 12 titles, and 190 games in 18 seasons at Oklahoma.

Stoops certainly has his detractors and a reputation for not winning big games, but there's no doubt he took his teams to them -- something Florida State fans would welcome after the last three years. Stoops also knows how to map out program success long term.

P.J. Fleck

Row that boat! P.J. Fleck has brought his unique brand of weirdness to Minnesota over the last three seasons and, wouldn't you know it, it's working. The Gophers are 8-0 in 2019 and have a legit shot at reaching the Big Ten title game. That comes after a wildly successful run at Western Michigan where Fleck went 13-1 in 2016 and took his Broncos to the Cotton Bowl. He twice won MAC Coach of the Year.

A former NFL wide receiver, he had a reputation as a bulldog and that has carried over into his coaching career. Fleck is still just 38 and would re-energize a Florida State program that had absolutely no juice or excitement under Taggart. He's a former player who can relate to the current generation, given his pro experience and unique personality.

Brent Venables

Brent Venables is one of the most respected coordinators in college football, yet the 48-year-old has never landed a head coaching job. It's long past time.

Venables ran Oklahoma's defense from 2004 to 2011, rising from co-DC and linebackers coach to full-time defensive coordinator in 2004. He followed that by taking over Clemson's defense in 2012. He won a national title as an assistant at Oklahoma in 2000, and has helped Clemson to two CFP national titles (2016, 2018). He's so coveted that Clemson reportedly pays him upwards of $1.7 million a year.

Venables has learned under Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops and Dabo Swinney, which is quite the trio to gain knowledge from. It's time for a big-time program to roll the dice on him. Florida State would be the perfect situation for Venables to launch his head coaching career.