The search is over. The Oregon Ducks have found their next head coach, and it is South Florida’s Willie Taggart.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy was first to report the news earlier this morning on Twitter.
USF’s Willie Taggart will be named Oregon’s coach, a source told @ESPN— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 7, 2016
Taggart has spent the last four seasons as the head coach of South Florida, going 24-25 overall, with 18 of those 24 wins coming in the last two years. This year, USF is sitting at 10-2 (the most wins in school history) and can finish at 11-2 if they defeat South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. Taggart also spent three years as the head coach of Western Kentucky, where he led that program to their first ever bowl game in 2012. He’s proven he knows how to turn a ship around, and that’s just what Oregon needs right now.
Taggart will be replacing Mark Helfrich, who went 37-16 in four seasons as Oregon’s head coach, which included a run to the national championship game during his second season in 2014. The Ducks, of course, are coming off their worst season in 25 years in which they went 4-8 and 2-7 in the Pac-12, leading to Helfrich’s firing.
In addition to having proven success turning programs around, Taggart has also shown he can adjust on the fly and work with what he has, rather than forcing his players to adjust to him. As told in this SB Nation story, when Taggart came to USF, he saw that he had some seriously fast and athletic players and that maybe his style of power football wouldn't fit in at the program. So he listened to his players, changed up the style, and bam, you have an 10-2 USF team.
The story above also touches on Taggart’s recruiting abilities, another area the Ducks need some help in. USF had the AAC’s top recruiting class in 2014 and the No. 2 class in 2015.
The hire is also getting Tony Dungy’s seal of approval, and that carries a lot of weight with it.
If @TonyDungy approves, that is good enough for me - One of the best judges of talent, character and football I have ever met. #GoDucks https://t.co/WxJKjJuCpo— Nick Cody (@justfollow61) December 7, 2016
Taggart will be officially introduced at a press conference on Thursday at 11 AM PT.