As the media and fans continue to speculate over Florida State rumors, head coach Willie Taggart maintains his recruiting schedule in the South for the Oregon Ducks.
It’s almost laughable, but this is what happens in today’s ever-changing culture. Nevertheless, a joke can turn into reality almost immediately in this current climate.
Taggart is NOT going to Florida State. Not yet, at least. With a man like Willie, he will always be atop the coaching searches. The same greatness that Oregon saw in him last year is what most are beginning to recognize now.
The irony is that FSU’s Jimbo Fisher is on the proverbial hot seat because he lost his starting quarterback in the first game of the season. Basically, the same thing that happened to Taggart happened to Fisher but earlier in the year. Yet, FSU’s boss led his team into a 5-6 season without qualifying for a bowl yet.
Even with a 7-5 season, it doesn’t take much intuition to understand that Taggart gets it and the recruiting process. His players and coaches will battle for him. His family adores his presence. For me personally, he had me at ‘hello’ during fall practice.
I’ve been watching him since his college days at Western Kentucky, so it’s easy for me to support him. He used the ‘juke move’ as easy as a video game in college. Trust me when I say, he’s not trying to ‘juke’ his way out of Oregon. This is the best place for Coach Tag and his family.
With any great coach, you’re going to have rumors. The elite believe they can have anything they want and that is no different in the coaching world. But the rumors that say Willie is unhappy at Oregon are blatantly untrue.
“Do I look unhappy?” Taggart asked. “I’m not addressing anymore rumors. I’m tired of answering that. I’ve answered it before. Do I ever look unhappy? I think you always see a good smile. Winning is living. I’m happy.”
Like a ‘verbal commitment’ at this level, these programs continue to recruit coaches even if their target has a top job.
“I’m the same guy I’ve been every week I come to work,” Taggart said. “I try to put a plan together and execute it.”
It would be nice for Oregon to have someone that could solidify the program without the threat of leaving, but it’s not a perfect world. Rumors will always follow around Coach Taggart because he exudes positivity in an environment filled with negativity.
It would also be great for the young players at Oregon to know their coach isn’t leaving them behind anytime soon. The best aspect of Taggart is that his door is always open to his kids.
“Our guys know they can ask me anything,” Taggart replied. “I’m always honest and real with my guys. They can ask me about it, I’ll tell them the truth.”
From Day 1 on the job, he’s been a breath of fresh air and Oregon realizes this. That is why the program just offered Taggart a five-year deal worth $20M plus incentives, etc. Athletic Director Rob Mullens wants to make sure his coach is locked in for the foreseeable future.
“I have not been contacted by anyone,” Taggart said without hesitation. “The only AD I’ve been contacted by is Rob Mullens and I love that guy. I am committed to the University of Oregon.”
Regardless of rumors and reality, Taggart is back on the recruiting road in Florida and Georgia with Jim Leavitt, Marcus Arroyo, Coach Pimp and his staff. The same intensity that gave UO the No. 6 recruiting class ranking for 2018 is what will keep the torch burning for the Oregon lead man.
One thing is clear and that is Willie Taggart is the right man to lead this program. The man led Oregon to bowl eligibility a year after assuming a 4-8 record and it could have been a 10-win campaign if starting quarterback Justin Herbert stayed healthy.
The future is outrageously bright for Taggart, but it would be nice to see him solidify this program for the next 20 years or so. He has an opportunity to change the college football landscape while elevating Oregon to unimaginable new heights.
Next up for the Ducks (7-5, 4-5) is a bowl game. Details will follow after the conference championships have been played. Regardless, ATQ will take you every step of the way.