Willie Taggart To Oregon? What Does It All Mean?
Willie Taggart leaves South Florida for the Oregon head coaching job. What does it all mean? Is the door open for Lane Kiffin to take over the USF gig?
Willie Taggart to Oregon? His style is the right fit.
He was able to turn Western Kentucky into a program that allowed Bobby Petrino and later Jeff Brohm to step in and rock, and he turned around South Florida and made it dangerous. Considering he went 2-10 in his first seasons at WKU and USF, he shouldn’t have to do nearly as much to make Oregon work.
You like the up-tempo running game, Oregon? Here you go.
USF averaged close to 300 rushing yards per game with QB Quinton Flowers and RB Marlon Mack forming a deadly 1-2 punch, and he knows how to get an offense to put up massive numbers and turn the lights out on a defense on the ground.
However, the Bull defense was just okay, not great.
USF finished 120th in the nation in total defense, and couldn’t stop the pass. Last year’s D was better, but it gave up a ton of passing yards, too.
The other concern is that this might be a great run, if it’s not the fruits of the labor of a turnaround.
Taggart went 9-19 to start his USF career before the program caught fire, going 17-4 since. He built the program back up, just like he did at Western Kentucky, but Oregon is going to want instant success. His style might make that happen.
Did Oregon shoot too low?
Considering Phil Knight was throwing around the idea of helping the school pay a coach $10 million a year, Oregon had the door open for just about anyone it wanted to get. That’s not a knock on Taggart in any way, but the coaching search would’ve been bound by nothing if that kind of money was there to throw around. Taggart will come at a much more affordable price, and he just might be the right guy for the gig, but it would’ve been an interesting search if the $10 million mark was in the equation.
A quarterback at WKU and born and raised in Florida, he’s making the move to the other side of the country. He’s not a fish out-of-water in the Pac-12 world, serving as the running backs coach at Stanford for two years before taking on the Hilltopper head coaching gig.
So how fast can he turn this around?
If he can work with what’s in place, he can do some big things fast.
Justin Herbert is a franchise quarterback to start with, and while Taggart will likely lose Royce Freeman to the NFL Draft first round, he’s got some nice backs in place starting with the shifty Tony Brooks-James. As many as seven starters should be back on offense, while ten starters should return on defense.
There’s no honeymoon period, but Taggart won’t be expected to win the Pac-12 right away. He needs to come close, though.
Who’s the next head coach for South Florida?
Okay, Lane Kiffin. It’s all right there.
There will be some thought about a slew of other coordinators and assistants, and some will think about bringing in Charlie Strong and maybe even Les Miles, but this is almost certainly Kiffin’s job for the taking.
That’s been the big rumor and the big buzz, and considering the other big jobs are being snapped up in a hurry, USF could be the next stepping-stone gig for Kiffin to resuscitate his head coaching career. Eventually, he’ll be the leader of an elite program – maybe Alabama once Saban is done? – but he needs a job like this first.