Dan Mullen departs Florida for South Florida

By Patrick Z. McConville, CNN • Updated 10th March 2020

Florida football coach Dan Mullen leaves a big job open on the eve of spring practice.

State Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday the hiring of former ULL football player Willie Taggart to replace Mullen, ESPN reported.

Taggart has a record of 55-32 in six seasons at ULL, leading the Lions to two championships. Taggart leaves behind a program that will receive a second consecutive 12-0 season. In 2016, ULL posted the best season in the FCS with a record of 12-1 and the fifth National Championship.

The Bulldogs won a third straight 13-0 season, and turned the school into a household name after running at a school-record 863 yards on their way to the 2-0 record and the national title.

Mullen was hired by the Gators in October 2015.

Taggart is the 35th football coach in program history.

“Willie Taggart is a fiery leader that has won big games, both in the Sunshine State and across the country. While he has great players to coach in the upcoming season, he has proven himself to be a head coach at the highest level,” Scott said in a statement.

“We are very fortunate to be able to bring someone like Willie into our football program and to support him through the hiring process and transition to become the next Gators coach. Willie is exactly the kind of coach our Florida Gators men and women need. He is honest, tough, fun-loving and effective on the football field. I am excited to help get Willie on campus and launch our football program for future success.”

In November, Taggart confirmed he was targeting the ULL opening but didn’t specify which program he was interested in. He told ESPN it was “not a secret” that he was interested in the job, though he said the school he ultimately ended up at was in the process of hiring a coach.

“I’ve been looking at a lot of things,” Taggart told ESPN. “It’s not like my dream job or my dream school. It’s just a great opportunity to coach here. … I don’t want to make it seem like it’s a failure for me, it’s a failure for ULL.”

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