Breaking: Oregon football officially announces Willie Taggart as its head coach

Oregon football and athletic director Rob Mullens officially announced Willie Taggart as the program’s new head coach Wednesday morning, confirming ESPN’s initial report.

Taggart will be introduced at a press conference Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex’s Bob Sanders Theater.

Taggart becomes the 33rd head coach for Oregon football, and he will also be the first African American head coach in program history. He is 40 years old. Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel is reporting the deal is for five years at an average of 3.2 million dollars per year.

“We are thrilled to welcome Willie, his wife, Taneshia, their sons, Willie Jr. and Jackson, and their daughter, Morgan,” UO athletic director Mullens said. “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.”

Taggart played quarterback for Western Kentucky from 1994-1998. After graduating, Taggart joined Western Kentucky as the wide receivers coach.

In 2009, after working his way up at Western Kentucky, then newly appointed Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh hired Taggart as the running backs coach. He coached Heisman runner up Toby Gerhart while juggling to responsibility of recruiting in his home state of Florida, as well as Kentucky and Georgia.

He then then returned to Western Kentucky, but this time as the head coach. In each of his final two season, the Hilltoppers finished 7-5.

In 2013, Taggart became the head coach at the University of South Florida. After  two poor seasons, they bounced back with an 8-5 record in 2015. This season, Taggart and USF finished with a 10-2 record and will face South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29.

“I am grateful for the trust that President Schill and [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.”

USF averaged 43.6 points per game this season with 7.29 yards per play. Taggart and the Bulls had one of the best rushing attacks in the country with 291.75 yards per play. The defense did not fare as well, though, as the bulls surrendered 31 points per game while opponents averaged 482.1 yards.

Quinton Flowers, USF’s quarterback in 2016, was named the American Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He ranked in the top five in the American Conference in rushing yards per game.

“I want to congratulate Willie Taggart on becoming the University of Oregon’s next head football coach, and welcome him and his family to the flock,” UO president and professor of law Michael H. Schill said in the press releasd.

“I am confident that Coach Taggart fits with the UO’s values and culture of excellence as it relates to supporting our student-athletes’ personal growth and success both on and off the playing field.”

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Jack Butler

Jack Butler

I am the sports editor for the Daily Emerald. I cover football and basketball. Email me at [email protected]