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Who will replace Willie Taggart at FSU? Some names to watch

Two of the first names you’ll hear with the Seminoles job share a last name: Stoops.
In this file photo, then-Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, left, hugs his brother, then-Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, before an NCAA college football game between the two teams Sept. 17, 2011, in Tallahassee. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
In this file photo, then-Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, left, hugs his brother, then-Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, before an NCAA college football game between the two teams Sept. 17, 2011, in Tallahassee. [CHRIS O'MEARA | AP]
Published Nov. 3, 2019
Updated Nov. 3, 2019

Now that Florida State has fired coach Willie Taggart, here are some names to watch as potential candidates to fill the job:

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops

The first name you’ll hear is this former FSU defensive coordinator has made three different coaching stops in the state and has recruited Florida well for the Wildcats. He took Kentucky to its third 10-win season ever in 2018. But if FSU fans didn’t like Taggart’s career losing record, how will they feel about Stoops?

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck leads him team on the field prior to an NCAA college football game against Maryland, on Oct. 26. [STACY BENGS | AP]

The one-time Bucs assistant has rowed Western Michigan to a 13-1 season and the Cotton Bowl in 2016 and has the Golden Gophers at 8-0 for the first time in decades.

Florida State offensive coordinator Kendal Briles

Florida State offensive coordinator Kendal Briles yells during the Seminoles' home opener vs. Boise State. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]

His offenses have put up lots of points and lots of yards everywhere he has been. His name, rightly or wrongly, is still connected to the Baylor scandal, but FSU vetted him as an assistant. Is the 30-something ready for a head coaching job?

RELATED: FSU football fans’ emails on Kendal Briles hire: ’We are — or should be — better than this’

FSU analyst Jim Leavitt

The former USF coach is already in Tallahassee as a defensive analyst. He has head coaching experience and could stabilize the program — if FSU was comfortable with his controversial exit from USF.

Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops

The former UF assistant has obvious Florida ties. He also has a job as the coach/general manager for the XFL’s Dallas Renegades.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly signals in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Oct. 26. [PAUL SANCYA | AP]

Ten years is an eternity in the pressure cooker at Notre Dame, so maybe he’s looking for a change. His resume (a trip to the title game and another to the playoff) is impressive.

Penn State coach James Franklin

Penn State coach James Franklin watches during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Michigan State on Oct. 26. [AL GOLDIS | AP]

A well-regarded recruiter who hasn’t gotten over the hump in the loaded Big Ten East would have an easier path to the final four at FSU and the watered-down ACC.

RELATED: ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit on FSU: ‘I hate the way they represent themselves’

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson

His offenses are entertaining, and he has the Demon Deacons headed to a fourth consecutive bowl game for the first time ever. His obvious ACC familiarity is a bonus.

Memphis coach Mike Norvell

Memphis coach Mike Norvell watches from the sideline in the first half of an NCAA college football game against SMU on Nov. 2. [MARK HUMPHREY | AP]

He doesn’t have any clear Florida ties, but he has the Tigers headed for a fourth straight bowl game as one of the top Group of Five programs in the nation.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables acknowledges fans after the football team returned to campus Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Clemson, S.C., the day after the Tigers defeated Alabama 44-16 in the College Football Playoff championship game. [RICHARD SHIRO | AP]

His resume and list of mentors (Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops, Dabo Swinney) speak for themselves, but the coaching landscape at all levels is rife with guys who flourished as coordinators but flopped as coaches. Venables, who turns 49 in December, never has been a head coach.

Indiana coach Tom Allen

Indiana coach Tom Allen yells instructions during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Oct. 26. [NATI HARNIK | AP]

Since the 'Noles can’t clone Bobby Bowden (who turns 90 on Friday), perhaps they can hire someone who has a ton more in common with FSU’s resident icon than people realize. Like Bowden, Allen is a devout Christian, already has coached in Florida (USF, Armwood, Temple Heights) and has enjoyed head coaching success elsewhere. He resuscitated USF’s defense in his lone season in Tampa (2015), and has the Hoosiers (7-2) ― whose roster is loaded with Floridians ― headed to nice bowl.

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott

At least 10 of the receivers Scott coached at Clemson are in the NFL. If ties to Tallahassee are a consideration, Scott, 38, was practically raised there. His father, Brad, spent more than a decade on Bobby Bowden’s staff, and he has recruited the state (and Tampa Bay) well.

RELATED: Tampa Bay pipeline fuels Clemson Tigers’ rise

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott

Yes, one more Tigers assistant. He might be closer to a big-time head coaching job than Scott and was the 2017 Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant.

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