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Is Taye Diggs Really Leaving All American After That Explosive Death?

Contains spoilers for the most recent episode of "All American"

Since its 2018 debut, The CW football drama "All American" has been one of the more under-the-radar hits on television. Despite that underdog status, the series has become one of The CW's most consistent ratings grabbers, in no small part thanks to the star power of Mr. Taye Diggs. If you've yet to catch up to "All American," the based on true events drama is a sort of mashup of "Friday Night Lights" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and largely centered on the journey of Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), a gifted high school football player from South Central Los Angeles who's recruited to play for Beverly Hills High School. 

James is first recruited by BHHS by head football coach Billy Baker, who's been portrayed by Diggs since the series debuted. Coach Baker's own story has been as much a part of the "All American" narrative as any other character, with Diggs earning cheers aplenty for his work in the role. In the most recent Season 5 episode titled "Time," Billy was scouted by a local university for their head coaching position. He turned the job down, but on the way home from the campus, his bus crashed, and despite his own heroics, Baker did not survive. 

That death has sent shockwaves throughout the "All American" fandom. But with so many still reeling at the loss, it seems it may not be quite as permanent as we think. 

It doesn't sound like Diggs is totally done with All American

The death of Coach Billy Baker has apparently been in the works for a while, with "All American" showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll telling Variety, "I had a pretty good idea at the end of last season that was where the season was going." Carroll also confirmed Diggs' exit was a decision made with the actor himself involved, claiming, "He [Diggs] was like, 'It feels like the right time and it feels like the right way to do it.' It just felt right for both of us." 

In a separate statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Carroll admitted it's hard to say goodbye to both Diggs' and his "All American" counterpart. "It has been an honor to work with Taye over these last five seasons and to watch him bring such incredible life to the role of Billy Baker," Carroll said, adding that watching Baker's journey unfold has been a gift to the series' creative team. Carroll said, "We wish Taye the very best in this next chapter of his life and he remains a beloved member of the 'All American' family, so you haven't seen the last of Billy Baker."

The last bit of that statement is understandably worth re-reading as it implies Diggs' time on "All American" may not be completely over. Just given how much he's come to mean to virtually every single character on the series, Carroll may be hesitant to pull the band-aid of Baker's loss off too quickly, or too permanently. The hows and whens of keeping Coach Baker in the game on "All American" are obviously still unclear. But the "All American" team would be wise to explore any avenue available to keep Diggs and his beloved character around as long as possible.