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.