Potential candidates to replace Walt Bell

It came as a shock to basically everyone at Florida State when it was announced on Monday evening that offensive coordinator Walt Bell would be leaving Tallahassee to become the head coach at UMass. Bell’s departure has immediate implications across the recruiting trail and brings the Seminoles status with a few recruits into immediate question.

The big fish is obviously four-star quarterback Sam Howell. The relationship between Bell and Howell has been the main sticking point for FSU and now that edge is gone. Willie Taggart and his staff are going to need to get together quickly to determine how they’re going to salvage things with Howell. By the way, if they can’t, these are some quarterbacks that the coaching staff may go after in his place.

While the offense didn’t play as planned in Taggart and Bell’s first seasons at Florida State, it did show some signs of life. The smoothest the team looked on offense all season was during the North Carolina State loss, which was the only time all season Bell solely called plays.

FSU is moving quickly to hire its next offensive coordinator as the school simply can’t afford to waste time with a crucial early signing period around the corner. The Seminoles have reportedly already been in contact with former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze. With that being said, here are four potential candidates we’ve identified that Taggart could pursue the open position.

Kendal Briles, OC, Houston

Saturday update (9:30 PM EST)

A booster owned jet is currently on its way to Houston, Texas. The jet left from Jacksonville earlier Saturday afternoon and was previously in Orlando and Tampa, most likely with Willie Taggart and company visiting Florida’s high school state games. Is it on its way to pick up Florida State’s future offensive coordinator?

Briles is one of the brightest young minds in college football. He’s an innovative play-caller which helped Houston finish with the No. 11 ranked offense in 2018. At just 36-years-old, Briles has already spent 10 years with major programs such as Baylor (2008-16), FAU (2017), and Houston (2018).

Like Freeze, Briles brings off the field issues that may be too much to overcome. He’s connected to the Baylor sexual assault scandal and that’s held him back from getting high-profile jobs.

It will also be hard to get him to Tallahassee. Briles just signed an extension and buying him out of that contract plus paying him seven figures might be too costly.

This move would bring a lot of unnecessary attention to Florida State. But it also might bring wins.

Tee Martin, former OC, USC

USC elected to go in a different direction, firing offensive coordinator Tee Martin after failing to make a bowl game. Martin has been with the Trojans since 2012 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2015.

The former Tennessee quarterback would instantly provide an impact on the recruiting trail and he’s got a resume of leading some good offenses. Martin has signed 21 top-100 players per 247 Sports.

USC ranked No. 27, No. 19, No. 8, and No. 85 in total offense with Martin as offensive coordinator from 2015-18. He’d be a fit at wide receiver coach as well if FSU goes in a different direction for OC.

Larry Fedora, former HC, North Carolina 

One coach that could mitigate a lot of the damage with Sam Howell while bringing some flair to the offense would be Larry Fedora. That’s right, the former North Carolina had a very good relationship with Howell and was one of the main reasons he was so interested in North Carolina.

Florida State could instantly start reparations on Howell’s commitment while also still placing him with a coach that he has a lot of trust in. Fedora went 45-43 over seven years in Chapel Hill and made the ACC Championship in 2015.

The Seminoles might be able to get Fedora on the cheaper side as he still is owed $12 million by North Carolina.

Chris Weinke, Running Backs, Tennessee 

Weinke is another coach that could help Florida State on the recruiting trail with his ties to IMG Academy and the southeast. It would be a home calling for the former Heisman winner in Tallahassee.

It would also give Taggart a veteran coach on this staff that has spent time in the NFL and with major college football programs. Weinke is the former quarterback’s coach for the St. Louis/LA Rams and following his stent there spent a season as an offensive analyst with Alabama.

He was hired by former Bama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as the running backs coach for Tennessee earlier this offseason. Weinke is also reportedly one of the reasons Deondre Francois is considering transferring to Knoxville.

Mike Sanford, Former HC, Western Kentucky

Sources tell NoleGameday that former Western Kentucky coach Mike Sanford is still in consideration for the job. He’s also spent time at Notre Dame and Boise State as an offensive coordinator with two of his units ranking top-15 in the country.

Samford also has a connection with Taggart, as the two coached together at Stanford from 2007-08. While this move might not be a flashy one on the surface, it has the potential to turn into a successful hire, especially when you consider the relationship these two already have.

Shaun King, Running Backs, USF

King is another guy that Taggart has a relationship with, and a good one. The two coached together in 2016, Taggart’s final season at USF. King was the quarterbacks coached and helped guide Quinton Flowers to a season that broke numerous school records.

After Taggart moved on to Oregon, King stayed at USF and is currently coaching running backs under Charlie Strong. Could a potential reunion be in the works? Stay tuned.

2018 Season Recap

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