Top 5 Florida State Head Coach Candidates

November 9, 2019



The Florida State Seminoles are in complete disarray right now. The team is coming off a 5-7 season, in which they missed a bowl game for the first time in 36 years. A 4-5 start to the 2019 season was all the Seminoles needed to see to fire head coach Willie Taggart before his second year in Tallahassee was even over. 


This does leave the team in a tough spot as they now turn to Odell Haggins to lead the team the rest of the year. Haggins coached the final two games of the year in 2017 after Jimbo Fisher left to take the job at Texas A&M and he did a good job. He led the team to a key 42-10 win over Louisiana-Monroe in the season finale to get to a bowl game and then a 42-13 win over Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl. 


The big question on everyone’s mind in Tallahassee now is “Who’s next?” The Taggart experiment led to disastrous results, so they will be looking to make a big splash in the coaching realm. While former Seminole and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders has had his name thrown around, he doesn’t seem like the best name to lead this team back to national contention. So, let’s take a look at the top five potential head coaches for the Florida State Seminoles. 




Jim Harbaugh


The Michigan Wolverines have been on the edge of the College Football Playoff nearly every year since Jim Harbaugh took over in Ann Arbor. But a 10-3 finish, which seems pretty likely again in 2019, is not good enough for the Wolverine faithful as they want to see results, meaning wins over Ohio State and a Big Ten championship. So, needless to say, Harbaugh could be on his final leg in Ann Arbor. 


While he hasn’t pushed the Wolverines to the Playoff, he could be exactly what the Seminoles need to turn things around and get back to the Fisher days. Harbaugh has tremendous recruiting ability and at a prestigious school like Florida State, it would not be too hard for him to get some of the top names in the country. He also brings with him a great deal of publicity. You could expect to see him do everything he can to repair the image of Florida State football in the eyes of the public and fans. 


It also doesn’t hurt that Harbaugh is an amazing coach and has a great resume to back him up. In four seasons, he turned the Stanford Cardinal into a national powerhouse that dominated the Pac-12 for most of the 2010s and has had a great run with the Wolverines, going 45-16 in less than five seasons and just missing the Big Ten Championship Game last year. 




Bob Stoops


Look, I know this one has been thrown out there a ton since Taggart got fired, but does this not make a ton of sense for Florida State to at least try? Yes, Bob Stoops is slated to be the first coach of the Dallas Renegades in the reincarnation of the XFL next year, but does he REALLY wanna do that? The college football world has missed the best coach of the Stoops family (here’s looking at you, Kentucky) since his surprising retirement in 2017, so a return to one of the biggest schools in the country would be good for everyone involved. 


From 1999 to 2016, Stoops ran the Big 12 ragged. He racked up nearly 200 wins and won a national championship on an undefeated season in his second year as a head coach. He won 10 Big 12 titles and fell just short of winning the national championship two more times in 2004 and 2008. 


It also helps Stoops’ case that he has helped produce some of the best and brightest NFL players and current college coaches throughout his tenure. Mike Leach, Josh Huepel, Kevin Sumlin, Jay Norvell, Bo Pelini, and his successor, Lincoln Riley all coached under Stoops and are currently leading teams in college football while other coaches like Mike Stoops, Mark Mangino, and Kevin Wilson went on to have careers as head coaches as well. 




Matt Rhule


If you want to talk about rebound coaches, look no further than Matt Rhule. He has done a fantastic job with the Baylor Bears in just three years. In his first year, the team was coming off the Art Briles scandal and they went 1-11. They went 7-6 in 2018 and won the Texas Bowl. Now the Bears are sitting at 8-0 with a realistic shot at making the College Football Playoff. 


Rhule is not only known for turning Baylor around. He did the same thing with the Temple Owls as well. The team was on the brink of disaster when he took over in 2013. They went 2-10 that year to winning 10 games in each of Rhule’s final two seasons and the AAC championship in 2016. He is a great recruiter and he would certainly not be working from the ground up in Tallahassee. 


If Rhule is able to be bought out, expect the Seminoles to go after him hard in the coming months. Let’s just hope this doesn’t become a distraction for Baylor for the rest of the 2019 season, however. 


Matt Campbell



Matt Campbell’s name was pretty much the first name mentioned when the news of Taggart’s termination hit newsstands. And rightfully so as Campbell has been great wherever he has gone. He has emerged as a top candidate for pretty much every team that might be looking for a head coach in the near future and he would do great things in Tallahassee. 





He had nothing but success with the Toledo Rockets, going 35-15 and winning two division titles. Other than his first year in Aames, he has also had a myriad of success with the Iowa State Cyclones. He might not be the first name on Florida State’s list, but he is a great name to have on there. 


Les Miles


I will not be the first person to say that I was shocked to see Kansas actually land Les Miles and pull him out of his pseudo retirement ahead of the 2019 season. While the Jayhawks are the Jayhawks and it is going to take some time for Miles to work his magic in Lawrence, he has already taken great steps in his first season with Kansas. 


The team is 3-6 and still at least has a shot at making a bowl game this year and won a conference game two weeks ago, which has been a rare feat for Kansas the decade or so. He would certainly bring a ton of hype to Florida State, so it would certainly be a fun hire. You also cannot forget what he did for the LSU Tigers. 


Miles was known for taking chances during his tenure at LSU and that earned him the Mad Hatter moniker. He has yet to be in a position to test that name out at Kansas, but he would certainly have the chance at Florida State. In 11 seasons in Baton Rouge, Miles went 114-34 and won two SEC championships and a national title in 2007. He would be a huge get for the Seminoles and would make waves across the country. 


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