Oregon Ducks

CORVALLIS, OR - NOVEMBER 26: Defensive coordinator Brady Hoke of the Oregon Ducks dresses his players during the third quarter of the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Corvallis, Oregon. The Beavers won 34-24. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Oregon president takes thinly-veiled shot at Brady Hoke

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Brady Hoke had a miserable one-and-done at Oregon, and this piling on just adds to it.

Brought in to turnaround the Ducks’ defense, Hoke instead was in charge of one of the worst units in the country.  Their play, in very large part, helped bring an abrupt end to Mark Helfrich‘s three-year tenure in Eugene.

Helfrich was officially replaced by USF’s Willie Taggart earlier this week.  The boss of Taggart’s boss, UO president Michael Schill, had one piece of advice and one piece of advice alone for his new head football coach.

Can we take that as confirmation that Hoke won’t be retained by the new regime?  At least statistically, though, the president has a point, no matter how clumsily or ill-advised it may have been.

Out of the 128 teams listed on the NCAA’s official stats website, the Ducks were 126th in scoring and yards allowed; 121st in third-down percentage and rushing yards allowed; 117th in turnovers forced; and 114th in passing yards. Last season, the Ducks were 114th in scoring and 116th in yards.

And Taggart’s defense this season? The Bulls were 86th in scoring defense and 120th in yards allowed.  So, there’s that.

Oregon makes hiring of Willie Taggart official

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Willie Taggart of the South Florida Bulls during a 3rd quarter timeout against the Florida State Seminoles at Raymond James Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images)
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And now it’s officially official.

Wednesday morning, myriad reports surfaced that Oregon was set to name Willie Taggart as its next head coach.  A few hour later, the Ducks confirmed that they have plucked Taggart from USF to replace the dismissed Mark Helfrich.

Taggart, who will be introduced at a press conference Thursday, will be the first of the 33 head coaches at UO to be African-American.

“We are thrilled to welcome Willie, his wife, Taneshia, their sons, Willie Jr. and Jackson, and their daughter, Morgan,” UO athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “Willie places an emphasis on ensuring a positive student-athlete experience and on winning, and his previous stops have proven his success at both. We have a very bright future under his leadership.”

In his fourth season with the Bulls, Taggart has seen his win total increase every year, going from two in his first season in 2013 to four to eight to a 10-win season this year that has another game to go. Taggart won’t this season through, however, as USF announced that co-offensive coordinator T.J. Weist has been named as the Bulls’ interim head coach and will guide the team through their preparation for the Birmingham Bowl matchup with South Carolina.

Taggart has also been the head coach at Western Kentucky. After a 2-10 start, he guided the Hilltoppers to a pair of seven-win seasons before leaving for the Bulls.

The 40-year-old assistant also comes to Eugene with experience in the Pac-12, serving as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh at North rival Stanford from 2007-09.

“I am grateful for the trust that President Schill and Rob Mullens have put in me to be the next head coach of the Oregon football program, and I thank them for the opportunity,” Taggart said. “Oregon has a strong national presence and a proud recent history of playing among the nation’s elite, and I look forward to the challenge of upholding the excellence. I can’t wait to get started.”

Taggart will be taking over a program that went from winning 13 games and appearing in the first-ever College Football Championship game following the 2014 season to nine wins in 2015 before bottoming out out with a 4-9 campaign in Helfrich’s third and final year at the helm.

Report: USF’s Willie Taggart to be named Oregon’s new coach

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 28: South Florida head coach Willie Taggart celebrates with his team after a first quarter touchdown against the Navy Midshipmen at Raymond James Stadium on October 28, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images)
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It was reported over the weekend that Oregon could have its opening at head coach filling by Tuesday.  A day later than that timeline, it appears the Ducks are on the verge of doing just that.

According to a tweet from ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy, Willie Taggart of USF will be named as the next head football coach at Oregon.  No timeframe for an announcement was given.  FootballScoop.com subsequently confirmed the initial report.

The latter site added that Taggart was informed the job was his last night and that the coach wanted to let his Bulls players know today, presumably prior to an announcement being made.

Taggart was interviewed by UO athletic director Rob Mullens in Dallas last Thursday. Tony Dungy, whose son played his football for both the Ducks and Taggart at USF, has publicly stumped for the coach to be hired by the Pac-12 program.

In his fourth season with the Bulls, Taggart has seen his win total increase every year, going from two in his first season in 2013 to four to eight to a 10-win season this year that has another game to go. It’s unlikely Taggart sees this season through, however.

Taggart has also been the head coach at Western Kentucky. After a 2-10 start, he guided the Hilltoppers to a pair of seven-win seasons before leaving for the Bulls.

In addition to Taggart, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin also reportedly interviewed for the Ducks job. The program reportedly offered the position to Matt Rhule, who left Temple after he was named the head coach at Baylor Tuesday.

With Oregon apparently closed, there are no current Power Five jobs open, which seemingly means that P.J. Fleck will be staying at Western Michigan for at least another season. Counting USF, there are currently eight Group of Six jobs that will need to be filled — Cincinnati, FAU, Georgia State, Houston, Nevada, San Jose State, Temple

Oregon has reportedly met with Bryan Harsin, Willie Taggart

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Head coach Brian Harsin of the Boise State Broncos coaches during a game against Northern Illinois Huskies in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on December 23, 2015 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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It appears Oregon’s search for a new head coach is beginning to heat up.

According to John Canzano of The Oregonian, athletic director Rob Mullens set up shop in Texas Thursday and is directing the search from Dallas.  The reason for that is Mullens is on the College Football Playoff selection committee and that’s where they will be performing their duties on the final weekend of the 2016 regular season.

Per Canzano, Mullens interviewed USF’s Willie Taggart the same night he arrived in Dallas. “Taggart fulfills the State of Oregon’s ‘Rooney Rule’ law for head coach hires by public universities,” Canzano noted.  In confirming the Taggart report, FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman also reported that Boise State’s Bryan Harsin has interviewed as well.

It has been expected that Mullens will talk to Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck at some point; however, Canzano writes, ” there’s some internal concern in Eugene that there’s a lot of sizzle and not enough steak to the act.” Still, Fleck has not been ruled out as an option.

It’s also been rumored that mega-booster Phil Knight, who will be intimately involved in the search, is enamored with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.

Regardless of who ultimately replaces Mark Helfrich, it’s thought that the position could be filled as soon as this coming Tuesday.

UCF’s Scott Frost proclaims he’s ‘not a candidate for Oregon’

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Scott Frost, head coach of the University of Central Florida Knight walks the sidelines during the second quarter of his team's game against the University of Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium on October 29, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Richard Carson/Getty Images)
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If he was even on it, you might be able to scratch Scott Frost off of Oregon’s coaching to-do list.  Maybe.

Not long after Mark Helfrich was dumped by the Ducks, Frost’s name was mentioned as a possible replacement.  The connection made sense, given the fact that the UCF head coach spent seven seasons with the UO football program as an assistant.

There has been speculation, however, that the Ducks, who haven’t hired from the outside in four decades, may be looking to branch out with this coaching hire.

Even if they were interested in taking the same tack, Frost, at least publicly, is saying he’s not interested in returning to Eugene.

“I’m not a candidate for Oregon,” the 41-year-old Frost said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m happy right here. This is where I want to be. I started something here, and I feel like we’ve taken a lot of steps to get this program to the top of our league. I want to see that through.”

Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Florida’s Jim McElwain have been mentioned as possibilities as well.  The latter Wednesday denied interest as well.

“I’ve got a heck of a job,” McElwain said as his team prepared to play top-ranked Alabama Saturday. “In case anybody checked, this is the University of Florida. We’re playing in what they call the SEC championship game. It really hasn’t crossed my mind.”