It’s the dawn of a new day in Eugene. Practices are (sometimes) open once again, even to the public at times, new coaches are in charge and new slogans are in place. But what will the future of Oregon football look like? Here are five predictions.
1. Willie Taggart will still be the head coach
It’s clear to see how much people like Willie Taggart and his staff, even before they’ve coached a single game. Recruiting has finally picked up again, and he has a certain swagger about him that is contagious to everyone around him. Of course, any new coach should have a fresh level of energy, but from his first day on campus, you could tell this is a guy that players will connect with and respect, something I can’t confidently say happened with the last regime.
2. Justin Herbert will graduate having set up the Ducks for greatness
I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, the program is in a rebuild. The process might take two to three years, but Taggart and local hometown boy Justin Herbert is going to be a huge part of that. In his first year with the Ducks, Herbert threw for 1,936 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games. Herbert also looked strong in this weekend’s spring game, and I think by the time that Herbert’s time at Oregon comes to an end, he’ll have the Ducks in a better place than when he started.
3. Top in-state recruits will stay in the state
One of Willie Taggart’s top priorities is keeping in-state recruits right here in Oregon, even if he has to chain them up to keep them here. We already saw some of his recruiting pay off this weekend as a number of talented kids committed to Oregon, including 4-star offensive tackle Dawson Jaramillo, the No. 4 overall player in the state. Expect that trend to continue going forward.
4. Jim Leavitt will turn the defense around
Jim Leavitt is another high-energy coach that kids have connected with, much like Willie Taggart. During his brief time at Colorado, Leavitt turned around the Buffaloes defense and nearly brought the team to the Rose Bowl. Last year, Colorado ranked No. 19 in total defense. Meanwhile, Oregon was ranked 126th out of 128th. There is almost literally nowhere to go but up. I see a similar rebuild of the defense happening in Eugene, and if it happens as quickly as it did in Boulder, Leavitt could be around for quite some time.
5. The Ducks will return to the College Football Playoff
When Mark Helfrich was fired, it was clear that the Ducks needed a new identity, a clean slate. That is what Willie Taggart and his staff has provided. Now, the rebuild won't be instant. It will take a few years and probably a full recruiting cycle for him to get his guys in there, but Taggart has orchestrated successful rebuilds before, and I think we’ll see him do it again in Eugene. By the end of this five year period, we’ll see the Ducks back into the College Football Playoff.
Which prediction do you see as being the most likely in five years?
This poll is closed
Willie Taggart will still be the head coach
Justin Herbert will graduate having set up the Ducks for greatness
Top in-state recruits will stay in the state
Jim Leavitt will turn the defense around
The Ducks will return to the College Football Playoff