Taggart leaves Oregon after one year

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Willie Taggart grew up a Florida State fan and dreamed of playing for the Seminoles.

He never donned the garnet and gold as a player, but has managed to one-up that goal.

Taggart was introduced as the 11th head coach in Florida State history on Wednesday as he returns to the Sunshine State after one season at Oregon. The 41-year old Bradenton native coached at South Florida from 2013-16 before taking the Ducks job.

The news conference capped a hectic two weeks at Florida State that included Jimbo Fisher resigning last Friday to accept the opening at Texas A&M .

“Guess I wasn’t good enough to get a scholarship to play here,” quipped Taggart, who played and later coached at Western Kentucky. “No matter where I went, I rooted for the Seminoles. Until I went to South Florida. That was the first time I had to root against the Seminoles.”

Three days after Fisher resigned, Taggart met with Florida State President John Thrasher, athletic director Stan Wilcox and board of trustees member Ed Burr on Monday in Scottsdale, Arizona. After weighing the offer overnight, Taggart accepted on Tuesday and informed his players at Oregon .

He arrived in Tallahassee early Wednesday morning and met with the team before the news conference. Taggart said he appreciated Oregon athletic director Rod Mullens for giving him his first chance at a Power Five job, but that the chance to coach at the school he has followed since childhood was too good to pass up.

Taggart will earn $30 million over six years. Florida State will also pay the remaining $1,370,122.28 he still owes South Florida and $3 million owed to Oregon as part of buyouts of his previous contracts.

Taggart has a 47-50 career record, including 7-5 at Oregon this season. He has a reputation of rebuilding Western Kentucky, USF and Oregon, but he views coming to Florida State as more of a realignment effort.

Since winning 33 of 34 games between 2013 and ’15, including a national championship, the Seminoles are 20-12, including 10-10 in the ACC.

Arkansas Razorbacks

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas has hired SMU’s Chad Morris as the new football coach.

The 49-year-old Morris, a longtime Texas high school coach and former Clemson offensive coordinator, agreed Wednesday to a six-year contract worth $3.5 million annually.

He replaces Bret Bielema, who was fired after compiling a 29-34 record in five seasons — including 11-29 in the Southeastern Conference.

Morris leaves the Mustangs after compiling a 14-22 in three seasons. He took over a team that finished 1-11 in 2014, won two games his first season and improved to 5-7 in 2016 and 7-5 this year.

Rice Owls

HOUSTON — Mike Bloomgren has been hired as the coach at Rice.

Rice announced Wednesday that Bloomgren agreed to a five-year contract with the Owls after spending last season as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Stanford. He takes over for David Bailiff, who was fired on Nov. 27 after Rice finished 1-11 in his 11th season.

Bloomgren worked at Stanford for the last seven seasons. He was the offensive line coach from 2011-12 before taking over as offensive coordinator in 2013.

Bloomgren says: “In my seven years at Stanford, I have seen firsthand how elite college athletics and academics can not only coexist, but thrive together. I want to create an environment at Rice where every player’s dreams are realized on and off the field.”

UTEP Miners

EL PASO, Texas — Kansas State offensive coordinator Dana Dimel has been named head coach at UTEP, where he will take over the only Division I team that didn’t win a game this season.

Dimel was named the Miners coach Wednesday. Sean Kugler resigned Oct. 1 after the team’s 0-5 start in his fifth season at his alma mater. Former coach Mike Price served as interim head coach the remaining seven games.

Dimel, who was once the head coach at both Wyoming and Houston, has been at Kansas State, his alma mater, since 2009. The Wildcats play in the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 26.