What an interesting week thus far for both the Oregon and Florida State fan bases awaiting with bated breath on Willie Taggart's decision. Nothing has been decided either way (as of this writing last night)
In the event that he does leave for Tallahassee, here are some candidates to keep in mind as the search heats up for Coach Taggart's successor in Eugene. For this exercise, I'll swing from the least likely to the most likely candidates.
Matt Campbell (Iowa State Head Coach)
- Campbell has been rising up the coaching boards like a rocket this year thanks to a sophomore season featuring upsets over playoff bound Oklahoma and perennial contenders TCU. To date, he has posted a 45-29 record over sevens years presiding over Toledo and Iowa State. However, he is just 37 years old and has never coached outside of the Midwest region of the country. In addition to his relative inexperience and basically being bound to a specific region, he just signed a lucrative extension. The consensus is that he's not actively looking for the Ohio State job to open but wouldn't turn it down either.
James Franklin (Penn State Head Coach)
- Excellent recruiter but is the east coast version of David Shaw in that he's at his dream job being a PA native. Likely won't even entertain a conversation at this point unless things really go south without former OC turned current Mississippi State HC Joe Moorehead.
Charlie Strong (South Florida Head Coach)
- A man of impeccable character and also made his bones in the state of Florida as an assistant to Urban Meyer and then as the Louisville HC. Would he really leave his "home" in Florida to repeat following Willie Taggart again? Not very likely.
Les Miles (former LSU HC now traveling Twitter expert)
- No, just no. Besides for a school that has staked somewhat of a reputation as an offensive power, do you really want a coach who struggled in that area? The rumblings are that he's looking to get back in but at a certain SEC school that has a rough go of it in their coaching search.
Gary Patterson (TCU Head Coach)
- Every year Patterson's name gets thrown about in these type of things but he never considers what else is out there besides Fort Worth. While an excellent coach, he exudes the vibe of being comfortable where he's at. Basically, TCU's version of Bill Snyder.
Mike Leach (Washington State HC / Life Coach)
- Lost in all of that brouhaha that is the Tennessee head coach search, Leach came the closest outside of Greg Schiano of being hired in Knoxville. Apparently the story goes that Leach at least gave the former AD an interview and was set to be hired until the university chancellor nixed it. The prevailing theory is that Leach isn't happy that his former AD left for Nebraska thus the wandering eyes. Would Rob Mullens really poach from an in conference opponent? Would both parties be interested?
Chad Morris (SMU HC)
- Morris would be an interesting candidate for the Ducks to pursue in that he helped engineer some of the most potent offenses in college football while he was the Clemson OC. He took his talents to SMU, a school long infamous for the heyday of the rampant NCAA violations in the 70s and 80s. Morris has the Mustangs bowl eligible in just his third year. The big negative is that he's never really coached outside the state of Texas. There are certain benefits and a lot of headaches in Texas football culture from pee wee all the way to college. I'm not sure the Oregon administration wants to deal with that.
Mike Norvell (Memphis HC)
- While I believe that Norvell could be a good coach down the line, it's too early to tell as he's currently coaching Justin Fuente's recruits. The word is that he's a good one but still very raw. I don't believe that Oregon would seriously consider him as a candidate. He does, however, have a bit of Pac-12 experience as an OC / QB Coach for Arizona State.
Justin Wilcox (Cal HC)
- Wilcox is a Duck alum so the connections are there along with a myriad of coaching stops within the conference. He has Cal on the right track but it's still too early on in his head coach career to come to a conclusion. Maybe the Ducks give him a cursory call but not at this time.
Kevin Sumlin (former Texas A&M HC)
- The latter half of Sumlin's tenure in College Station was bad but early on, he had a ton of success. He cut his teeth as an assistant in the Big 12, which is known for a lot of wide open pass happy attacks. He, in essence, built up the Houston program as a premier stepping stone job. He comes from an impressive lineage of coaches, ranging from Joe Tiller to Bob Stoops. He managed a 51-26 record at A&M and holds a 86-43 record overall. The Ducks would be remiss not to pass him up for at least an interview. Reportedly held off on the UCF job until Taggart's fate is determined.
Mario Cristobal (Oregon OL Coach and OC)
- Cristobal is a Miami alumnus and former assistant from that storied program so he knows what it takes to win at that kind of level. He's an excellent recruiter. Previously served as an offensive line coach for Alabama before his start in Eugene. It's certainly possible that he leaves with Taggart but he could also stay for a shot at the top job.
Jim Leavitt (Oregon DC)
- Mr. Pepsi has done wonders during the 2017 season with a defense that was beyond horrific and abysmal last year. He's improved that side of the ball by a considerable amount in nearly every metric. Before coming to Oregon, he had the DC job at Colorado, where he led an impressive turnaround for their defense. He was also the father of the USF program which begat one William Taggart. He's totally immersed himself into the West as his previous two stops were the San Francisco 49ers and Colorado. A great recruiter and has boundless energy. The stain of which how his tenure in Tampa ended still remains but I'm sure Oregon has already vetted that part and made sure nothing will happen.