For the first time in forever, the Oregon Ducks decided to fire their football coach. What followed was a search for their next leader of the flashy football program in Eugene, Oregon. That search ended on Tuesday night.
The name at the end of search late Tuesday night was Willie Taggart, formerly of the University of South Florida. Willie who?
For those of us who follow college football we know who this guy is. He is a legit coach.
Obviously people are asking about whether this is a good hire for the Oregon program.
I believe it is.
Is it the “splash” hire that many Duck fans wanted? No.
Everything that surrounds the Duck football program has a certain amount of flash to it. The spread offense, the uniforms, and the facilities have attracted some of the best talent in the country to come play for the Ducks.
However, the shine on that flash has diminished over the last few years. For all the glitz and glamour the program projects they have no National Championships, or Natty’s, as the Duck fans call them. Oregon was the program that was different from everybody else. The Ducks would run plays at break neck speed, win games by 40 points, and have new uniforms every week. That type of atmosphere attracts this generation of high school player and the Ducks were excellent at promoting that type of atmosphere.
The football gods have a way of leveling the playing field.
Oregon isn’t like that anymore. Everybody runs the spread, everybody has different uniforms, and every football program is dumping millions of dollars into their program. As a result of this, Oregon doesn’t stand out like they once did.
Enter Willie Taggart.
He’s not flashy, he’s not a big name, and he may not attract any excitement from the fans right now.
The guy can coach.
The offense that he had at South Florida was putting eye-popping numbers up on the scoreboard. For the 2016 season the South Florida Bull offense put 6,181 yards offense and 68 touchdowns on the board. I don’t care who you are or where you coach, that is a ton of offense and scoring.
Taggart also turned around a program that had become irrelevant in their own state of Florida. His record at USF was a game below .500, but the progress being made from year to year was noticeable. His overall record is 40-45, not a record that will set the minds of the Duck faithful on fire. Sometimes fans have to be reminded that coaching records don’t necessarily tell the whole story on a coach.
However, he does come highly recommended by some rather big names in football. Tony Dungy and Jim Harbaugh have both given Willie Taggart their own personal seal of approval and for people in college football that carries a ton of weight. It carries weight for me. If Dungy and Harbaugh believe he can coach, that is good enough for me.
What do the Ducks want? The powers that be at Oregon want a return to the Chip Kelly era where offense is their bread and butter. The administration wants Autzen Stadium rocking again, the winning to return, and have Oregon as the place to be in college football.
Many fans will be in a “wait and see” mode with this hire, but I’ll be one of the first to say that Willie Taggart may just be the right choice for Oregon at this time. The Ducks need to get back to basics with football and not worry so much about all the uniforms and flash that they have been known for.
The Oregon fans will want a quick turnaround because they have be accustomed to winning and don’t want to see the downward spiral of their Ducks. You have to have patience Duck fans. This isn’t Alabama or Ohio State.
If Willie Taggart does what he has shown he can do at South Florida, the flash and sizzle in Eugene will naturally return and the Duck fans will be rocking Autzen Stadium once again.