Oregon to hire Willie Taggart from South Florida as new football coach
‘He knows the West Coast, having been at Stanford,’ says Tony Dungy
The University of Oregon’s next football coach will come by way of the Sunshine State, sources told ESPN on Tuesday morning. South Florida’s Willie Taggart will replace Mark Helfrich, who was fired for his paltry record (4-8, 2-7 PAC 12) a week ago.
After doubling his win total in each of his first three seasons at USF (2-10, 4-8 and 8-4), Taggart led the Bulls to a 10-2 record — the best in school history. One of the keys to Taggart’s hiring were the people recommending him, including former NFL coach Tony Dungy, whose son Eric finished his career playing for Taggart after transferring from Oregon.
“He knows the West Coast, having been at Stanford,” Dungy told ESPN last week. “He has all the elements Oregon is looking for. He’s a bright young coach, and it makes him easy to recommend.
“Oregon is a different situation [from USF]. You’re not coming in taking something from the ground floor. You need a coach that can come in and get players going and coach well. It’s a big challenge at Oregon, one that he would be successful at. You’re not trying to become respectable, you’re trying to win national championships — it’s a different kind of challenge.”
Taggart was the head coach at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, from 2010-12 and an assistant coach under current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford from 2007-09, where he helped recruit Andrew Luck.
As a player, Taggart was an option quarterback for Jack Harbaugh, the father of Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Jim, when Western Kentucky was Division I-AA.
Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was the other finalist for the job.