Willie Taggart

Taggart offers little clarity regarding future at UO

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USA Today

Taggart offers little clarity regarding future at UO

Oregon coach Willie Taggart deflected questions about his future during a brief press conference today prior to taking the field with his team for the first time since the Ducks defeated Oregon State in the Civil War last Saturday.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Taggart is high up on the list of Florida State's potential targets to replace Jimbo Fisher, who this morning accepted the coaching job with Texas A&M.  But Taggart refused to address such rumors, choosing instead to tell reporters to go ask those who are spreading the rumors.

When asked directly if he would remain at Oregon, Taggart responded: "Why wouldn't I be? I'm the football coach. You guys keep asking me that like you're trying to get me out of here."

He did state that he and his agent have not been contacted by Florida State. 

Soon after, Taggart asked the media if they could "move on" from such questions. They did not.  Such questions continued and Taggart continued to give more non-answers. 

Taggart said that he addressed his team about the rumors regarding his future. 

"I addressed it with the team as soon as I got back from recruiting," he said. "I used it as a teaching moment on how social media works, how rumors work."

Si.com has reporting that Taggart on FSU's short list along with Virginia Tech's Justin Fuente. FootballScoop.com reports that FSU is "expected" to offer Taggart a contract. 

Tensions are high at Oregon. According to a source, the program is bracing for the worst cased scenario. 

Taggart leaving would place Oregon in a horrible position. Taggart was in the process of delivering a recruiting class ranked No. 1 by Scout.com and No. 5 by both Rivals.com and 247sports.com. 

His departure would undoubtedly impact the quality of that class. Also, Oregon will be left scrambling to find an adequate replacement. UO found it difficult last year to replace Mark Helfrich and ended up hiring Taggart only after several other candidates rejected Oregon, including former UO coach Chip Kelly now the coach at UCLA. 

However, Central Florida coach Scott Frost turned down an offer from Florida and has not yet taken the vacant Nebraska job, which is reportedly his for the taking. The former offensive coordinator could be a top target for Oregon now that Taggart is gone.

Oregon could also revisit Jim McElwain, the former Florida coach fired this month. He was a top target of Oregon last year and, according to sources, agreed to become the next Ducks coach only to back out of that agreement days later. 

Another strong option would be to promote from within by elevating defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt or co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal. Both have been head coaches in the past. Leavitt had great success at South Florida where he went 95-57 over 13 seasons. Cristobal coached Florida International for six years before being fired with a 27-47 record. 

Or, maybe none of that is necessary. Sources have confirmed that Taggart has not received an offer from FSU. Maybe he won't. Or, maybe Oregon will match any offer. There is also a possibility that Taggart decides he is better off staying at Oregon. 

The next few days promise to be quite interesting. 

Oregon and FSU fans take to Twitter to sweet talk Taggart

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USA Today

Oregon and FSU fans take to Twitter to sweet talk Taggart

Updated: Shortly after this post was published it was reported that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher will become the next coach at Texas A&M. 

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Oregon coach Willie Taggart hasn't even received an offer to interview at Florida Sate but that hasn't stopped Oregon fans from taking to Twitter to ask him to stay put should one come his way. 

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had been reportedly at least flirting with the idea of leaving the Seminoles to become the new coach at Texas A&M and the situation in Tallahassee, Fla., has reportedly become toxic.

Then today, it was being reported that Fisher indeed will head to Texas A&M.  This makes it conceivable that FSU could go after Taggart. However, that link is mostly due to the fact that Taggart was born and raised in Palmetto, Fla.  Nothing else. There is nothing to go on that says Taggart would receive an offer from FSU let alone be a top candidate for the position should it become available. 

All of the speculation and uncertainty has led UO and FSU fans to take to Twitter in an effort to woo Taggart. 

Here are some of the Tweets Oregon fans have sent Taggart's way:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some of the Tweets FSU fans have sent Taggart's way:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willie Taggart to Florida State isn't a thing, yet

Willie Taggart to Florida State isn't a thing, yet

Oregon coach Willie Taggart's name has been tossed around as a candidate for several jobs with one important variable missing: Not one program has stepped forward with an actual job offer.

Well, at least not one that has been made public. Not yet. 

Should Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher bolt to become Texas A&M's next coach, Oregon fans would be more than justified in fearing that Taggart could end up in FSU's sights. Despite Taggart having made it clear on several occasions that he is happy at Oregon, it remains difficult to believe that he would flat out reject a job offer from the Seminoles. He would certainly listen, according to a source. 

Taggart grew up in Palmetto, Fla.  He made a name for himself as a coach in the state of Florida by rebuilding South Florida before taking over Oregon's program last December. During his coaching journey, he has fantasized about coaching at a major program in his home state. The Seminoles would likely offer more money than what Oregon is paying Taggart even after the Ducks, who sources confirmed, recently offered Taggart a raise in hopes of keeping him in Eugene, as first reported by SI.com. 

All that being said, there is no guarantee that Taggart would bail on the Ducks if FSU came calling. 

Taggart has something rolling with the Ducks. He has a top-five recruiting class on the way. He has a superstar quarterback in sophomore Justin Herbert. He will return 14 starters from a 7-5 team that could have flirted with 10 wins (counting a bowl victory) had Herbert not missed five games with a broken collarbone. Taggart has a strong relationship with Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens. Taggart had his new home in Eugene remodeled. His two oldest children have just settled into their new routines and schools with new friends. Plus, if Taggart left, what would he do with the 30-plus pairs of green and yellow Nike shoes he already has in his closet? 

A source close to Taggart said over the weekend that he didn't believe the coach would leave Oregon after just one season no matter which program came after him, even if it were Florida State, Miami or Florida. Another source close to Taggart said the former Western Kentucky coach would only leave Oregon for a clearly better situation, not one because it's simply in the state of Florida.

Right now, Taggart has a good thing going at UO. He has no reason to go looking for another job. The question is, what will happen if that dream job comes looking for him?

We won't know for sure until that happens. So far, it hasn't. 

It could be a very long time before Oregon loses another Civil War

It could be a very long time before Oregon loses another Civil War

EUGENE - Remember this date: Nov. 26, 2016. 

That was the last time Oregon State won a Civil War game. It wasn't that long ago. Only a year. But that date could have legs. 

Oregon whipped OSU 69-10 tonight in the 121st Civil War at Autzen Stadium. The score very much reflected the disparity between the two programs. So much so that UO coach Willie Taggart dropped some smack talk afterwards by saying that the Ducks, who led 52-7 at halftime, wore raincoats at the end of this game because "it was raining touchdowns."

Taggart was making a reference to statements made during the week by OSU interim coach Cory Hall, who recalled the second half of OSU's victory last year when the rain came and Oregon's players began putting on raincoats while the Beavers welcomed the elements. Hall said he knew then that the Beavers would win. And they did, 34-24, snapping an eight-game losing streak in the 121-game series. It might be a long time before OSU defeats UO again.

The trajectory of the two programs couldn't be anymore contrasting. Oregon has a young, rising star coach in Taggart, who happens to be a recruiting dynamo. Oregon State saw its so-called savior coach, Gary Andersen, quit mid-season and is now scrambling to find its next leader. 

The Ducks (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) rebounded quickly from a 4-8 season a year ago that ended with the loss in Corvallis. The Beavers (1-11, 0-9), whose fans stormed the field following the upset victory, believed that  their fortunes were about to change. Instead, the program regressed in Andersen's third year. OSU last won just one game in 1995 (1-10).

Oregon has a potentially limitless ceiling. The Ducks' 2018 recruiting class ranks No. 1 on Scout.come and No. 6 on both Rivals.com and 247Sports.com.  OSU's class ranks 79th on Rivals.  A new coach could change that but he won't be able to get the Beavers into the top 30, let alone top 10.  The talent disparity between the two programs that was on display tonight will continue to grow. 

Oregon gained 577 yards compared to 211 for Oregon State. 

Of course, strange things could happen.  Maybe a new OSU coach will hit big on an elite quarterback while Oregon is left scrambling after Justin Herbert, four touchdown passes tonight, moves on to the NFL in the next couple of years. Maybe Taggart bolts for another program soon and a new coach falters in recruiting, setting the table for Oregon State to pounce. 

Anything could happen. But after Saturday night's beatdown - the largest margin of victory in this series - it's difficult to walk away not believing that at least another eight-game Civil War winning streak for the Ducks has already begun. 

 

Ducks need Civil War victory more than Oregon State

Ducks need Civil War victory more than Oregon State

The Oregon Ducks should win today's Civil War with great ease. They own virtually every matchup over Oregon State. 

However, these games rarely play out based on matchups and probability. So, the 25-point underdog Beavers do have a puncher's chance of pulling off an upset, or at the very least, making the game close. 

However the 121st Civil War plays out today at Autzen Stadium (4 p.m. on ESPN2), the Ducks (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12) must win. They cannot afford to blow this. The Ducks need this win even more than the Beavers do. 

Oregon is building toward something strong next season under coach Willie Taggart. Finishing off the year at 8-5 with a win today and then a bowl victory after losing sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert for five games (1-4 during that stretch) would provide a strong catapult into next year with 14 starters returning. 

Plus, on a weekend when it has been announced that former UO coach Chip Kelly has become the new coach at UCLA, Ducks nation might not be able to also endure a humiliating Civil War defeat. 

Oregon State (1-10, 0-8) could use the win, as well. Nothing could sooth such a disastrous season like upsetting the Ducks. But, OSU accomplished that last season at home by winning 34-24 to snap an eight-game Civil War losing streak only to blow that mojo with a follow-up season with only one win coming against 0-11 Portland State. 

The Beavers reportedly already have a new direction in place and will hire Cal offensive coordinator and former Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin to run the program. Hiring the quarterback guru is a great move for OSU. So, even if the Beavers get blasted today they will have something to celebrate very soon when Baldwin takes over for interim coach Cory Hall. 

What needs to happen today for Oregon is that it makes easy work of the Beavers. End it early. Get in about 10 Swag Surfin' moments. Play a lot of guys. Have fun with no trepidation. 

The UO players have been reminded of last year's Civil War loss in almost torturous fashion. Taggart has had the "low-lights," as he calls them, played over and over for his team to view and remind them of how bad things got last season. 

A dominant win today could remind the Ducks of how good things could be in the future. 

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Oregon vs. Oregon State

When: 4 p.m., Saturday, Autzen Stadium, Eugene.  

T.V.: ESPN2. 

Betting line: Oregon by 25.

Records: Ducks (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12), Oregon State (1-10, 0-8).

Last week: Oregon took down Arizona (7-4, 5-3), 48-28. OSU lost 40-24 at home to Arizona State (6-5, 5-3) 

Coaches: Ducks' Willie Taggart (46-50, 6-5 at Oregon); Oregon State's Cory Hall (0-5).

Fear factor (five-point scale): 0. Oregon has the advantage in just about every imaginable facet of the game. A loss would be disastrous for Oregon and put a major damper on an otherwise promising season. 

The Beavers won last year behind a punishing running game led by Ryan Nall that no longer exists. However, one must consider the fact that OSU took Stanford to the wire in a 15-14 loss while the Cardinal destroyed Oregon, 49-7. Then again, Stanford played OSU without running back Bryce Love and Oregon played Stanford without Herbert, so scratch all of that nonsense. 

Today's game is all Oregon. 

Game prediction: Oregon 57, Oregon State 27.  

Taggart shoots down speculation that he wants out of Oregon

Taggart shoots down speculation that he wants out of Oregon

EUGENE - Oregon coach Willie Taggart hasn't been able to escape the rumors that he could be headed to Florida or that he simply wants out of coaching the Ducks. 

The latter was posed to him following UOs 48-28 win Saturday over Arizona at Autzen Stadium and the first-year UO coach immediately shot it down. 

"Do I look unhappy?" he said with a smile. "I'm not addressing anymore rumors. You might have to ask that guy who put that rumor out there."

"That guy" is ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski, who on television stated that he was hearing that Taggart wanted out of Oregon. 

Taggart has stated repeatedly that he isn't going anywhere. At least not this season. Rumors swirled last week within the college football world that Taggart could land at Florida after the Gators fired coach Jim McElwain. Taggart is from Palmetto, Fla., and coached at South Florida before taking the Oregon job last December. 

While it must be noted that virtually every coach that has ever left a program at some point avoided a question regarding his plans or flat out said he wasn't leaving and then did in fact leave, the reality is that there has been no concrete evidence or reporting that indicates that Taggart is a prime candidate at any program that could be viewed as being more desirable than Oregon. 

Sources: Herbert cleared to play against Arizona following X-ray

Sources: Herbert cleared to play against Arizona following X-ray

Oregon sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert, who missed five games with a broken left collarbone, has been cleared to play Saturday against Arizona, according to multiple sources. 

A source told NBC Sports Northwest on Tuesday that Herbert was taking first-team reps and would likely start, as reported that night on Talkin' Ducks. However, Oregon coach Willie Taggart that same day said during an interview that Herbert would undergo an X-ray later in the week to determine his availability. 

On Thursday, Brett McMurphy tweeted that sources had told him that Herbert would start against the Wildcats (7-3, 5-2). However, according to a source, Herbert's availability wasn't 100 percent certain until Friday when an x-ray revealed that Herbert's collarbone had indeed fully healed. But, it was pretty much a done deal that he would return this week unless he suffered a set back. In fact, Herbert, a source said, might have been able to play last Saturday had the Ducks (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) not been on an off week.  

The injury was believed to require six to eight weeks to heal. Saturday will mark seven weeks since Herbert injured his collarbone while rushing for a seven-yard touchdown in the first quarter against California. That score gave the Ducks a 17-0 lead. They went on to win 45-24. 

However, in the five weeks without Herbert the Ducks (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) went 1-4 with freshman Braxton Burmeister starting at quarterback. In his six appearances - counting the Cal game - Burmeister completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns with six interceptions. Oregon defeated Utah 41-20 two games ago but found it very difficult to score in four losses, falling 33-10 to Washington State, 49-7 at Stanford, 31-14 at UCLA and 38-3 at Washington.  

Herbert's return makes it quite possible that the Ducks could win their final three games and finish the season with an 8-5 record. 

Oregon releases undaunting 2018 football schedule

Oregon releases undaunting 2018 football schedule

Oregon released its 2018 football schedule and, on paper, it has 10 wins written all over it. The Ducks will play three non-conference games with none of the opponents coming close to being on Oregon's level. 

Bowling Green is 2-9 this season, Portland State is 0-10 and San Jose State is 1-10.  On top of that, Oregon will host Pac-12 North Division rivals Stanford and Washington in 2018. The toughest road game at this time appears to be at at Arizona, which will return quarterback Khaill Tate.

Oregon (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) hosts Arizona (7-3, 5-2) on Saturday

As long as the Ducks remain healthy next season, they should win nine games without breathing hard and will have a legitimate shot at winning 10, or more. 

Oregon could return as many as seven starters on offense and seven on defense, plus a host of young backups that gained valuable experience this season. The Ducks also will likely welcome in a top 10 recruiting class. 

2018 OREGON DUCKS SCHEDULE

Sept. 1                 Bowling Green

Sept. 8                 Portland State

Sept. 15               San Jose State

Sept. 22               Stanford

Sept. 29               at Cal

Oct. 6                   OPEN

Oct. 13                 Washington

Oct. 20                 at Washington State

Oct. 27                 at Arizona

Nov. 3                  UCLA    

Nov. 10                at Utah

Nov. 17                Arizona State

Nov. 23 (Fri.)       at Oregon State

 

Arizona presents Oregon with a chance to finally 'do something'

Arizona presents Oregon with a chance to finally 'do something'

The Oregon Ducks have a chance to finally "do something" of substance this season when they host Arizona on Saturday. 

Oregon (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) not only needs a win in the worst way, but the Ducks could use a victory against a strong opponent in order to validate this uneven season in some capacity. To date, coach Willie Taggart's first year at UO has seen a hot start fueled by taking down weak opponents morph into a hot mess after sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert - expected back this week - went down with a collarbone injury.  

Oregon's best victories this season have come against Utah (5-5, 2-5), California (5-5, 2-5) and Nebraska (4-6, 3-4 BigTen). That's hardly a lot to brag about having defeated. Following the Wildcats (7-3, 5-2) on the schedule will be Oregon State (1-9, 0-7) in the Civil War then, assuming UO qualifies for the postseason, a likely inferior bowl game opponent awaits in December. 

A bowl victory would certainly be sweet for Taggart, who has yet to win a bowl game. But the signature victory of the season would still ben a win over the Wildcats, who have won five of their last six games since sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate became the starter.

The trajectories of both teams have been vastly different since Tate replaced injured starter Brandon Dawkins against Colorado on Oct. 7 and Herbert went down with his injury during a win over Cal the following week.

While Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez discovered that he could have a future Heisman Trophy candidate on his hands, Taggart discovered that his freshman backup, Braxton Burmeister, wasn't close to being ready for Pac-12 play. Consequently, not only did the Ducks go 1-4 in Herbert's absence, but aside from a 41-20 win over the Utes, the Ducks scored just 34 points in four defeats. 

Young quarterback, or not, generating just 8.5 points per game in four losses is a poor reflection on the offensive coaching staff armed with a strong offensive line and a stable of good to great running backs led by Royce Freeman. They couldn't average at least 17 points per game despite poor quarterback play? Oregon still would have still lost all four games but at least the Ducks would have shown a pulse. 

With Herbert expected back this week - Taggart said x-rays later in the week would determine his quarterback's availability - Oregon has a chance to erase the madness of the season by closing strongly with three consecutive wins, highlighted by a victory over Arizona. 

Ironically, Taggart swiped Burmeister from Arizona where he had originally committed. Taggart also flipped freshman receiver Darrian McNeal, who has two receptions for 10 yards. So far, that hasn't worked out so well for UO.

But Taggart and the Ducks can make everything right with a win on Saturday. It is likely to be a shootout. Taggart said the Ducks would have to "pray" in order to defend against Tat. Taggart isn't lying. Oregon has zero chance of "stopping" Tate. But, the Ducks' defense could be good enough prevent Tate from eclipsing the volume of offense Oregon should generate with Herbert back in the pocket. 

He will return to find a better team than the one he left. Senior receiver Charles Nelson hasn't caught a pass from Herbert since the first half of the team's win at Wyoming in game 3. When Nelson returned to action at UCLA, Herbert was already down and out. Now they will be reunited in the passing game that will only be helped by a running game that maintained a high level of production despite the lack of a passing threat to keep defenses honest. 

By any measure, this has been somewhat of a disappointing season for Oregon when one considers what might have been had Herbert remained healthy. Now the focus must be to go 3-0 the rest of the way and ride into the offseason with a win over Arizona, a bowl victory and an 8-5 record. 

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Oregon vs. Arizona

When: 4 p.m., Saturday, Autzen Stadium, Eugene.  

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks. 

Betting line: Off

Records: Ducks (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12), Arizona (7-3, 5-2).

Last week: Arizona won 49-28 vs. Oregon State. The Ducks were off.  

Coaches: Ducks' Willie Taggart (45-50, 5-5 at Oregon); Arizona's Rich Rodriguez (163-116-2, 43-32 at Arizona.

Fear factor (five-point scale): 5. Rodriguez is the inventor of the zone read play that he made famous during his days at West Virginia. Now he has an even better running quarterback in Tate than Pat White, who became a dominant force for the Mountaineers 10 years ago under Rodriguez. Tate is doing things from a rushing standpoint that had never been done before in the Pac-12.  Tate is so good as a runner that he makes former Oregon quarterbacks; Marcus Mariota and Dennis Dixon look ordinary. 

Arizona leads the Pac-12 with 347.7 yards rushing per game. Of that, 161.6 has come from Tate. He is the first Pac-12 quarterback to ever rush for 1,000 yards in a season (1,293 on 11.3 yards per carry). 

Arizona doesn't throw much but when it does, Tate is more than capable of producing big plays, but he has thrown six interceptions. 

Where Arizona is weak is on defense. It ranks 10th in the Pac-12 in total defense. For that reason, it's a good bet that Oregon's more balanced offense, matched against a vastly inferior defense, will prove to be too much for Tate to overcome. 

Game prediction: Oregon 47, Arizona 40.

Don't give up on the Ducks, they might not lose again this year

Don't give up on the Ducks, they might not lose again this year

SEATTLE - By far the best reality to take away from Oregon's 38-3 loss Saturday at Washington is that the nightmare is most likely over.

Sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert will likely return the next time the Ducks take the field in two weeks against Arizona. And, Oregon (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) has come out of the five-game stretch without him still in position to not only reach a bowl game but to realistically end the season at 8-5.

All things considered, that's not bad given that UO went 4-8 last season and just lost four out of five in blowout fashion without Herbert.

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"We've taken our lumps now," UO coach Willie Taggart said following Saturday's loss at Husky Stadium. "We'll take them. But we will come back swinging. I promise you that."

Believe it. So, don't dwell on the fact that Oregon were devoured by the hated Huskies (8-1, 5-1) for a second consecutive season. That result was a forgone conclusion once it became clear that Herbert wasn't ready to return from a broken collarbone and that freshman Braxton Burmeister would make his fifth start against the best defense the Pac-12 has to offer.

When asked if Herbert would return for the Arizona game at home on Nov. 18, Taggart responded: "I hope so," he said. "It would be nice."

As much as Taggart has tried to put a positive spin on life without Herbert in order to not impact his team, the reality is that the Ducks have to have him back. Taggart expressed that on Saturday. 

"If he comes back I'm sure everyone will be excited," he said. "You guys will be excited. We'll be excited. Our fan base will be excited. We all know what it is. We need the kid back. He will be great for our football team."

The despondent Ducks who made it to the post-game press conference didn't appear to be a group that expected to lose. That's a good sign. But the reality is that they had to play a near perfect ball game in every area to compensate for the 31 yards passing they got from the quarterback. It wasn't going to happen. 

Speaking of Burmeister, for all of his faults as a clearly overwhelmed freshman quarterback, it can't be said that the kid isn't tough. He can take a hit and he keeps coming back for more. However, he doesn't possess the passing skills needed to compete at this level. At least, not yet. 

Oregon was able to defeat Utah last week because the rest of the team bought into the fact that they all were responsible for a three-game losing streak without Herbert and not just Burmeister. That created a more focused team that through accountability ironed out some issues.

"I think early everybody felt sorry for themselves," Taggart said. "I felt that once he started practicing again they felt a little better."

That wasn't evident in the team's play against Washington only because the Huskies are simply too good to defeat with a one-dimensional offense. Taggart, who said he was never close to playing Herbert in this game, gave his team credit for not quitting and still fighting despite the fact they were clearly outmatched.

But the end result of the team going through what it went through is that Herbert should return to a find a team that is fundamentally much better than it was when he went down. Also, he will hit the field for the first time since the Wyoming game with senior receiver Charles Nelson, who injured his ankle in that third game of the season. What should have been a lethal passing combination all season long has played just two full games together. 

Come Nov. 18, the Ducks will return to being an offense capable of scoring 40 points in a half. Match that with a much improved defense and the Ducks have a the makings of a squad that could run the table the rest of the way.  

So, throw away this game. Forget it ever happened. Take a week off the clear your mind while the Ducks rest their bodies. Then, come back ready to find the Ducks ready to play their best football of the season.

"We still have a lot to play for," Taggart said.

Pride. A winning season. Taggart's first bowl victory. And, the seniors who haven't won a bowl game since the 2014 Rose Bowl. 

"Were just going to fight for any way to win a game," center Jake Hanson said, "and get our seniors to a bowl game."

Doing so and winning would make all that this team has endured worth it in the end.