On Thursday morning in Eugene, Willie Taggart was officially introduced as the next head coach of the Oregon football program. The 30-minute press conference included statements from Taggart, Rob Mullens and UO president Michael Schill, as well as a Q&A session with Taggart and the media.
Here are my general thoughts: The guy can certainly talk the talk. He has a smile that lights up a room, and his words are so inspiring that I want to turn my life around after listening to him, even though my life is going great right now.
He probably hasn't had much time to formulate a plan of attack, so some of his answers seemed pretty generic. But you could also tell that he is a man who has some pretty important core values that he is going to put in place here.
Some highlights of the press conference are below. At the end of the article, you can also watch a replay of the full press conference. Taggart ends it with the best way I’ve ever seen someone end a press conference.
“Have a great day, if you want to!”
On what they were looking for in their next head coach:
We sought someone who shared our values, someone who had a track record of success, someone who genuinely cared about our student athletes, yet pushed them well beyond their potential, and we found him. Willie Taggart is all of that and more.
On Taggart’s plan:
He has a comprehensive plan for his programs, which anchor everything from practice plans and staffing to academic progress. He will ensure that Oregon football continues to be an important part of our great university.
On why they hired Taggart:
He’s full of enthusiasm, he connects with players, he’s done two rebuilds, he’s got connections on the west coast, he can recruit, he can build a culture…those were the priorities we looked for.
On what you'll see from players and staff:
Everyone that touches our football program will attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. I don’t get along with boring people, I don’t…..the people that are associated with us, they’re going to have what I call juice…you are going to see a football team that is competing to win a championship each and every week.
On the importance of academics and community involvement:
We will excel with our efforts in the classroom. I’ll repeat that. We will excel with our efforts in the classroom and graduate our players. We will build young men of exceptional character. We will have a football team that is out in this community…and welcome this community to us as well.
On waiting to hear back after interviewing:
I was excited. I felt like I did a good job when I went in there. I told Rob I’ll be sitting on “G” and waiting on “O” literally (throws the O with his hands), so I was just waiting on “O”
On getting back to being innovative:
We have to continue to be creative, we have to be different. When I look at the University of Oregon, I look at a program that is different. We were different than everyone else and everyone else is trying to be like Oregon. I tell everyone here to dare to be different, and we gotta continue to be that way. It all goes back to winning. If you want to win, you gotta have some good football players to win and you have to hold them accountable to win off the football field before you can start winning on the football field.
On meeting the players, some who didn't think Helfrich should have been fired:
It was neat. I got a chance to talk to them and tell them about myself and my intentions with our football team and told all of them I want them to be there. I want to coach every single one of them and that we’re going to do everything the right way.
On meeting with the current coaching staff and seeing who will stay and who will go:
I plan on talking to the current staff, first and foremost. I’d like to sit down and talk with those guys and see if they’re a good fit with what we’re trying to do. I think its really important than we get the right fit….I want to make sure we hire a staff that is going to capture the hearts and minds of our football players.
On if he feels any pressure to win right away:
I don’t feel any pressure. That’s our job, is to win. I think whenever taking over a program, there are four things that have to happen…a shared vision….a plan to help achieve that vision…work your tail off…and you have to have the patience to see it through.
On what he plans to do with current commits:
When this is over with, I’m going to go in the lab and look at every kid that is committed to us. I gotta see our roster and where we’re at and where we need to go and get guys. I plan on looking at every commit we have and how they fit with what we want to do.
On not losing recruits from Oregon:
Before we go out around the country, we’re going to take care of the state of Oregon first. We’re going to put up a fence around here and keep our best football players here in the state. We cannot let them leave here.
On what kind of defense and offense Oregon will run:
I just want a really good defense. I dont care how it looks. Offensively, you’ll see us spread out. You’ll see some similarities in what we’ve been doing before, but you’ll also see a lot of different things….itll be spread out, it’ll be uptempo, it’ll be fast, it’ll be tough, it’ll be exciting for sure.
On what he wants to tell frustrated fans:
Buckle up! It’s going to be fun, we’re going to get out there…we’re going to recruit the best of the best, and you should here at the University of Oregon. We shouldn’t have to settle for anything…we’re going to go over the entire country to find the best of the best.
Full Press Conference: