Oregon has found its new head coach, as Willie Taggart is headed to Eugene. The USF program-builder will try to turn around the Ducks.
The Boat Shall Not Row in Eugene.
With a lot of speculation that Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck would be able to parlay his team’s breakthrough 13-0 season into the opening at Oregon, the Ducks instead chose another successful Group of Five head coach to revamp the Pac-12 program.
According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Willie Taggart was hired to replace Mark Helfrich as head coach at Oregon. The Ducks were looking for a new head man after a disappointing 4-8 campaign, and the South Florida head coach reportedly beat out Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen for the gig.
Taggart spent four seasons at USF, where he saw his win total increase from two in his first season to four and then eight. But the 10-2 mark for the Bulls this fall was the best in school history, and it made Taggart one of the hottest coaching commodities on the market.
Oregon is bringing in a head coach who has ties to the Pac-12, as Taggart was an assistant at Stanford from 2007-09 under Jim Harbaugh, and he helped recruit star quarterback Andrew Luck to Palo Alto. After his stint with the Cardinal, Taggart was hired as head coach at Western Kentucky, where he worked from 2010-12 before landing the gig at USF.
Former Tampa Bay Bucs and Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, whose son Eric played in Eugene before transferring to USF to play under Taggart, gave Oregon a ringing endorsement on Taggart’s behalf. And not many head coaches can say that they have Dungy on their resume as a reference.
In terms of who can be in play at USF now that Taggart is gone, former Texas head coach Charlie Strong and Florida State co-offensive coordinator Lawrence Dawsey (who is a former USF assistant) could be in the mix as the Bulls look to remain successful in the AAC.