Jimbo Fisher left Florida State for a massive payday. Ten years, $75 million, fully guaranteed.
To replace Fisher, who in 2013 led Florida State to its third national championship but watched the program slip considerably by his 2017 departure, Florida State would have to pay up as well.
The ‘Noles targeted Willie Taggart, a proven program builder who took Western Kentucky from 2-10 to 7-5, South Florida from 2-10 to 11-2 and, in his one season at Oregon, took a 4-8 Ducks team he inherited to 7-5 while losing star quarterback Justin Herbert to injury. Taggart is a Tampa native and a lifelong Seminoles fan; there was no question he wanted the job. He was also employed by Oregon, and there was no question it would be a bad look for him personally to leave a head coaching job after just one season.
Florida State would have to make it worth the verbal darts he was bound to receive.
The Seminoles offered him a significant raise, offering him a 6-year contract — running Dec. 5, 2017 through Jan. 31, 2024 — at $5 million a year. It wasn’t top-of-the-industry money, but it was a massive jump from the $2.9 million he earned at Oregon and further still from the $1.7 million he made just two years prior at South Florida.
Beyond that, Florida State was willing to guarantee the vast majority of the contract.
Taggart’s buyout calls for the university to pay 85 percent of his remaining contract. At $5 million a year with four years remaining after this one, that would equal a $17 million bill for the university. Any buyout would be subject to offset from subsequent employment; but this remains a staggering number.
The results on the field haven’t gone as planned, obviously. Florida State is 6-8 under Taggart, with the most recent win coming 45-44 over Louisiana-Monroe in overtime.
Taggart keeps insisting he and his staff will get it fixed, and the university will certainly give him that time. At $17 million, they’ve left themselves no other choice.
Head here for a look at how Taggart is trying to get his team better on the defensive side of the ball.