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Does USF coach Willie Taggart have a decision to make?

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The first coach left in controversy. Jim Leavitt had built the program from the ground up, and he was happy, but then a player said that Leavitt struck him.

The second coach left in failure. Skip Holtz had torn down much of what Leavitt had brought, and he didn’t win enough games, and the alumni were ready to drive him to the airport.

And now, it may be Willie Taggart’s turn to make a decision.

Taggart, the coach of the explosive USF Bulls, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Mark Helfrich at Oregon. And while there are compelling reasons for Taggart to stay where he is (family, geography, continuity), jobs like Oregon’s don’t open up every season. Yeah, if Oregon’s calling, then Taggart owes it to himself to answer.

The Ducks’ job is 2,498 miles from Tampa, which would put Taggart a long way from his comfort zone. A long way from his recruiting base, too. He’d have to start over again instead of having a team that returns Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack.

On the other hand, Oregon is one of the wealthiest programs in the nation. They play in a power conference. In Florida, USF is the fourth most prestigious program around.

It’s hard to rank coaches, because none of us can get inside the heads of those who are hiring. Oregon seems to have an impressive list of coaches. Besides Taggart, there is Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck (a former Bucs’ assistant), Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano (a former Bucs’ head coach) and Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin. Oregoneon sports columnist John Conzano says Fleck is a longshot.

Taggart has been endorsed by former NFL coach Tony Dungy, whose son played at Oregon before transferring to USF.

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Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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