It's official! News broke early Wednesday morning that the University of Oregon and Athletic Director Rob Mullens have hired University of South Florida's Willie Taggart to be our next head football coach.
Taggart, 40, comes to Eugene after guiding USF to a 10-2 record in 2016. Taggart took over the Bulls program four years ago, building it from a perennial loser into one of the top non-Power 5 teams.
Taggart brings to Oregon an offensive mind, strong recruiting skills, the endorsement of Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy and an amazing level of enthusiasm.
Here are four more things you need to know about new Oregon head football coach Willie Taggart:
Quarterback Success: Taggart played at I-AA Western Kentucky, earning the starting quarterback spot four years in a row, while twice being named a Walter Payton Award (I-AA's Heisman Trophy) finalist.
Florida Native: The Ducks haven't had the best of luck recruiting Florida in years past, but that may all change with Taggart at the helm. A Tampa Bay native who was an all-state quarterback in high school, Taggart maximized his time in Florida, recruiting in the number one class in the American Athletic Conference multiple years - this going head-to-head for kids against Florida, Florida State and Miami.
Turnaround King: As noted, Taggart took USF from 2-10 his first year to 10-2 in his fourth. That comes after taking WKU from 2-10 (they lost 20 straight games prior to his arrival) his first year to 7-5 his third year. What's often overlooked is his time as an assistant coach at Stanford, where he helped guide the Cardinal back up the national rankings as the running backs coach. Taggart not only coached Toby Gerhart, who was arguably the top running back in the country, but was a linchpin in recruiting Andrew Luck.
Belief in the Run: Taggart coached Stanford's running backs, creating one of the most impressive backfields in the country. After his time in Palo Alto, he coached a multi-time All-American running back at WKU, while guiding USF to the tenth best offense in the country in 2016. This year's USF team held one of the nation's most potent running attacks, with two 1,000+ yard backs, while ranking fifth in the country averaging 291.8 yards per game. He should make Royce Freeman, Tony Brooks-James, Taj Griffin, Kani Benoit and the rest of the Oregon running back crew very happy.