USF Bulls

Breaking: Oregon hires USF coach Willie Taggart

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Success makes you valuable to your school and attractive to others. Big time success only heightens interest. And overnight Tuesday/Wednesday morning, USF coach Willie Taggart’s success over the last two years landed him the Oregon Ducks job.

As we wrote in October, if Taggart and the Bulls continued to ascend together this season, he would only become more of a “player” in the college coaching carousel. That has been become reality.

According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Taggart will be named Mark Helfrich’s replacement with the Ducks at some point today.

USF comes off their most spectacular offensive season ever, where QB Quinton Flowers broke the single season rushing and total yards from scrimmage records. And, Flowers was named American Conference Offensive Player of the Year last week. Also, the Bulls finished 10-2 for their most wins ever in a season and will play South Carolina upcoming this month in the Birmingham Bowl.

Taggart’s recent success combined with his previous successful head coaching stint with Western Kentucky, where he was also a famous player, made him a prime target for a top line “Power Five” conference job.

He also previously was an assistant on Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford staff, where he obviously became familiar with the Pac 12 and recruiting out west.

We at F.F.I. are told that behind the scenes, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, whose son Eric played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, also put in a strong private endorsement for Taggart at Oregon.

No official announcement has come from Oregon on the hire, yet or Taggart himself.

We will continue to update this story.

UPDATE. 8:15 am Eastern:

While no confirmation from either school, yet, there are multiple sources reporting to multiple outlets in Tampa Bay that there is a 1:30 p.m. USF team meeting where Taggart will presumably inform his players in person.

Meanwhile, (and this is the shady side of College coaching/recruiting) Taggart has wasted no time early this morning calling/contacting USF recruits that have not yet signed with the Bulls (can’t until February).

This is Cocoa High School stud QB Bruce Judson earlier this a.m. on Twitter:

Judson tweeted later that he wants Taggart and Oregon to offer him a scholarship out west.

While Taggart has no legal (NCAA) obligation to talk to his own guys first, it’s a real ethical nightmare that he’s contacting recruits (especially this high profile one) to tell them he’s taken the Oregon job before the players he brought to Tampa Bay.

Update 3:30 p.m Eastern:

Taggart held an emotional “goodbye meeting” with his players for over 30 minutes. Reportedly, he spoke first and at length about how much his relationship with them as recruits and his players was special to him and the turnaround for the Bulls the last two seasons. One player in the meeting told media outlets that Taggart said this was the toughest situation he’s been in since the death of his third child. Another player said that Taggart broke down crying on multiple occasions.

According to more media reports and players on twitter, etc., USF Atheletic Director Mark Harlan was in the entire meeting, but waited until after Taggart was finished and had left before he addressed the players. Harlan told them that he was installing offensive coordinator T.J. Weist as interim head coach for the upcoming Birmingham Bowl against South Carolina.

Harlan and USF president Judy Genshaft released this statement this afternoon too:

 

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