Oregon football is ranked No. 21 in the country by the preseason Top 25 from Athlon Sports. It’s not often that a team is rewarded after a 4-8 campaign, especially with a new coaching regime installed over the offseason. Yet, that is exactly where the Duck head coach Willie Taggart finds his new team heading into the 2017 campaign.
Last season, UO tasted the Top 25 ranks for a few weeks. Oregon entered the season as the AP No. 24 ranked program. The Ducks peeked at the No. 22 spot before losing in Lincoln against Nebraska during Week 3. They were never ranked again.
Not many people believed Oregon would see the rankings until after the 2017 college football season began. However, this is a sign of UO’s evolution with Taggart and company. Experts and scouts could not ignore the impact the new coach has made in just a few months at the helm.
Following a 9-4 season in 2015, the Ducks endured their second straight season without 10+ wins in 2016. Not to mention, Oregon did not qualify for a bowl game.
Usually, when a school goes 4-8, they won’t sniff the Top 25 unless they have an incredible incoming recruiting class. Not to mention, a coaching transition can cause major dysfunction within a collegiate locker room.
A majority of the program was recruited by the previous coaching staff. Therefore, new coaches usually have their hands full with disgruntled players from a previous regime. Not to mention, the head coach and his staff are trying to find a home for their individual families. It can be a chaotic situation, but Coach Tag has not let it phase him or his players.
In fact, Taggart and his staff have seamlessly entrenched themselves into the Duck community. They have embraced Oregon culture and thus, their players have responded positively.
After 15 spring practices, Oregon football is ready for another run of success.
At the end of the day, it’s just a ranking. A parade isn’t scheduled for preseason honors. Nevertheless, it’s a building block. Nothing boosts a reputation like being included in the Top 25. Just ask an incoming freshman.
The talent is youthful. The coaches are hungry. And, the fans are salivating for a title. The ingredients are all there for a sustained run. Oregon football is indeed doing something. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the right pieces in place to produce consistently on the field.