Who would have thought that at the end of the 2017 college football season that Mark Richt would be the longest-tenured head coach in the state of Florida after just two seasons at Miami? That’s where we currently are, as a slew of coaching changes have taken place inside the Sunshine State. All of the other major schools in Florida have had their coaches for a season or less — some of them were hired days ago.
Ranking the tenure length of FBS head coaches in Florida.
1. Mark Richt (2 years)
2. Butch Davis (1 year)
3. Charlie Strong (1 year)
4. Lane Kiffin (1 year)
5. Dan Mullen (10 days)
6. Josh Heupel ( 1 day)
7. Willie Taggart ( 1 day)
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) December 5, 2017
As for the last three names above, two accepted head coaching jobs on Tuesday — Willie Taggart accepted the head coaching job at Florida State, leaving Oregon to replace Jimbo Fisher, and UCF hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel to replace Scott Frost. Dan Mullen was hired at Florida late last month.
I wrote last December, after the hires of Charlie Strong at USF, Butch Davis at FIU, and Lane Kiffin at FAU, about the intense recruiting battles set to take place after Florida got loaded with big-name coaches. That now gets even more intensified with Taggart in the mix. Recruiting the state is one of his specialties.
His first Oregon class, after just weeks on the job, included seven signees from the Sunshine State, and his 2018 class landed commits from three Florida four-stars. At Oregon, Taggart was already entrenched in Florida:
“Can we get some Geto Boys?” [assistant Mario] Cristobal asks without looking up from his chart.
He’s referencing a group from Texas. Notably missing from Oregon’s class: Texas and talent-rich cities in SEC and Big Ten territories. Taggart’s abbreviated transition class bookends with seven Floridians and 11 Californians.
“Could’ve been even better with even a few more days,” Taggart says.
“The strategy is that we’re gonna recruit California hard. We’re coming to California. And we’re gonna recruit Texas hard. But we’re always gonna recruit Florida. And Georgia. Those are football states. We’re gonna recruit football states. So we’re gonna recruit for Oregon in Ohio. I haven’t seen a limit yet to this brand, so we’re going.”
Those three hires during last year’s coaching carousel have succeeded in Year One. Kiffin’s Owls team is 10-3 and won the Conference USA, and the Owls will play Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl. Davis’ Panthers team finished 8-4 and will play Temple in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla bowl. USF went 9-2 and will play Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl.
As for the other newcomers in Heupel and Mullen It’s safe to say they’ve got their work cut out for them.