Oregon Ducks

SOURCE: Oregon coach Willie Taggart to meet with Florida State officials

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USA Today

SOURCE: Oregon coach Willie Taggart to meet with Florida State officials

Developing story.

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Oregon coach Willie Taggart has been contacted by Florida State and will meet today with Seminoles officials to discuss the possibility of becoming the program's next football coach, according to a source close to the situation. 

The same source stated early Sunday evening that the first-year Ducks coach had not yet heard from Florida State despite many rumors to the contrary. According to the source, the expected eventual contact came late Sunday night. Many reports have named Taggart as one of Florida State's top targets to replace Jimbo Fisher, who resigned Friday to become the next coach at Texas A&M. 

Taggart met with media in Eugene on Sunday afternoon to discuss the Ducks (7-5) being selected to face Boise State (10-3) in the Dec. 16 Las Vegas Bowl. During that media session, Taggart said that he planned to fly out of Eugene that evening to begin recruiting.  That trip will now include a meeting with Florida State officials. 

According to sources, Taggart told the team on Friday that Florida State is his dream job and that if they made an offer he would listen. However, other sources say that it is not a slam dunk that Taggart would accept an offer from Florida State despite the fact that he is from Palmetto, Fla., and grew up as a fan of the Seminoles. 

Taggart's trip has included a stop in Arizona to meet with four-star quarterback recruit Tyler Shough, who put out this tweet this morning:

(more to come)

 

Willie Taggart has rejected two programs, but FSU remains an unknown

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USA Today

Willie Taggart has rejected two programs, but FSU remains an unknown

Oregon Ducks fans are eagerly, and in many cases frustratingly, waiting for Ducks coach Willie Taggart to announce his intentions. 

They want answers and they want them now. Unfortunately for them, they want answers to questions that don't yet exist while Taggart is taking a stance that is best for him from a business standpoint. And let's not forget that college football is a business. 

That said, here is the latest: According to a source close to the situation, Florida State has not contacted Taggart or his agent Jimmy Sexton at all, let alone to extend a contract offer to replace Jimbo Fisher, who on Friday left FSU to become the coach at Texas A&M.

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The source also stated that Taggart has rejected inquiries from two other programs. One program, the source stated, offered Taggart a contract larger than the extension of five-years, $18 million that Oregon preemptively placed before him last week. The second, and more prominent, program, according to the source, reached out to Taggart and his agent in order to gauge the coach's interest but was flatly turned down before an offer was made. 

Meanwhile, Taggart remains largely mum on the subject of his future. Taggart met with the media this afternoon to discuss the team being selected to play in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 16 against Boise State (10-3). Of course, Taggart was asked if he would still be around to coach in the bowl game.

"Why wouldn't I be?" Taggart responded, once again not saying "yes" or "no" to a direct question about his future.

When pressed regarding the rumors involving Florida State's reported interest in him and making a decision, Taggart responded: "There's no decision to be made."

That's because, it appears, there has been no offer from FSU to weigh. 

Taggart, during the press conference, detailed the team's plan to prepare for the game with this week being finals week, and stated that following tonight's team banquet he would board a plane to head out to recruit.  

It is understandable that Oregon fans would be frustrated by the situation. Florida State, a more prestigious program than Oregon, is Taggart's dream job. He grew up in Palmetto, Fla., a Seminoles fan. During a trip to his hometown to film the TAGGART documentary for NBC Sports Northwest, our crew went with him to his friend's barbershop. There, he engaged in a debate about the prominence of FSU, Florida and Miami. Taggart stood squarely in FSU's corner.

So, Ducks that want to see Taggart remain at UO should be afraid he could leave for the sunshine state should FSU pursue him. However, to expect Taggart to respond to every "report" and rumor about his situation is foolhardy. 

There have also been "reports" that Taggart was spotted on FSU's campus on Saturday. However, given that Taggart attended his son's high school basketball game Friday night in Eugene, he would have needed to use the Millennium Falcon (the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs) in order to make it to Tallahassee, Fla., and back to Eugene in time to conduct Saturday morning's practice, which he was present for. 

Taggart tweeted the following Saturday evening:

The response to this tweet was stunning. Some made it out to be a sign that he is committed to Oregon. Others pointed out that while at South Florida, Taggart tweeted something similar days before Oregon hired him. Others have stated that he shouldn't have tweeted his statements at all because they only created more speculation. 

"I can't even tweet anymore without it being [interpreted] as [meaning] something else," Taggart said today. 

The bottom line is that his tweet was 100 percent the truth. As of Saturday night Taggart had a practice on Sunday, the team found out today what bowl game it would play in, and Taggart will get on a plane Sunday evening to head out to do some recruiting. 

That's all he said and that's all he meant. It's a tweet that would be expected from him as the coach of the Oregon Ducks. Just because there are rumors that he might be offered another job do not mean that he should suddenly stop operating as the coach of the Ducks. 

For this perspective, Taggart is handling this situation the best way he can to keep the door open for a potential offer from FSU while maximizing his potential leverage with Oregon. Let's review the various aspects of the situation at hand:

1. Taggart can't determine his future without knowing what options exist: Frustrated Oregon fans want Taggart to flatly state that he isn't leaving Oregon if that's the case. But by doing so he would only be responding to reports or comments from unnamed sources and those supposedly in the know. He shouldn't be required to do so, especially if he has no offer from FSU to even consider. He is better off avoiding the question altogether. If he says he isn't leaving Oregon now but receives an offer later that he ends up accepting, then he would be branded a liar. He certainly can't state that he is leaving without an offer in hand. And he'd be crazy to even state that he would consider an offer from FSU, again, simply because it is rumored that he might receive one. 

2. Taggart is looking out for Taggart, and rightfully so: Taggart is a one-man corporation. His top responsibilities are to that corporation and his family. Oregon is a business partner, one that could fire him at any second, just like it did the previous staff. Don't think for a minute that coaches don't pay attention to how programs have treated their former staffs. Taggart has never been to a national title game or won a conference title like the previous staff did. He saw how Oregon blew out that staff after one losing season just two years removed from a national title run. So he knows that if he doesn't perform at a very high level, he could easily get fired in the not-to-distant future. That is not a "family" relationship. That is a business relationship, one that Taggart is looking to squeeze for as much as he can while he can. 

2. Taggart is controlling his potential leverage: Someone asked Taggart on Friday if he would sign the extension Oregon offered last week. Taggart said that he would when everything was right with the offer. Even if Taggart has zero interest in leaving Oregon right now, it is in his best interest to at least field other offers in order to leverage Oregon into a larger contract offer. The current extension came after he received an offer from another program. Stating that he won't leave under any circumstances would shift the leverage back to Oregon, which has to be desperate to keep him given the promise he has shown and that he is an established elite recruiter. Right now, Taggart is open for business and is willing to field other offers and then weigh them against a potential counteroffer from Oregon. 

4. The Scott Frost factor: Don't think for a minute that Taggart and his agent didn't take note of the reported seven-year, $35 million contract offer Nebraska just extended to Frost, who has been a head coach for two seasons. Granted, Frost did a great job rebuilding Central Florida in just two years and has the Knights at 13-0. But Taggart has rebuilt two programs, defeated Frost last year while at South Florida, just had a strong first season at a Power Five program and is about to pull in a top-five recruiting class. Keep in mind that Taggart received most of the commitments in the 2018 class before this season began and with the Ducks coming off of a 4-8 season under the previous staff. That's an amazing recruiting job, one never before seen in the state of Oregon, maybe even the Northwest. 

Yet, Taggart has an $18 million offer in hand while Frost just received $35 million. Something is wrong with that picture. 

If FSU comes calling for Taggart, the Ducks might have to raise their offer to more like $25 million over five years. 

5. Taggart doesn't owe Oregon a discount: This will all end when either FSU hires a coach not named Taggart or he receives on offer from Florida State. If an offer comes his way, Taggart's agent would be able to go back to Oregon with a number and see if the Ducks would be willing to pay enough to keep him from leaving. It is quite possible that Taggart has plenty of reasons not to go to FSU. He has a good thing going at Oregon. He is athletic director Rob Mullen's handpicked guy, so Taggart knows that the man in charge has a vested interest in his success and likely has his back. There is also the Phil Knight factor. Plus, if Taggart could consistently land top 10 recruiting classes then it might not matter where he is coaching in terms of pursuing a national title, thus negating the idea that one would come quicker at FSU. One source close to Taggart said that he didn't believe Taggart would leave UO simply for the sake of going to Florida State, 6-6 this season, even though his family, including his mother, still reside there. Other factors would be considered, including the overall atmosphere and support he Florida State offered. It is not a slam dunk that Taggart would jump at any offer from FSU. 

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In conclusion: Relax, people. Let this all play out. The process is going to take days, not weeks. But these are days in which Taggart is better served taking his time to weigh his options rather than make a rash decision in order to appease fans whose angst has been fueled by a rumor mill run amok.  

It's Oregon vs. No. 25 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl

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It's Oregon vs. No. 25 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl

The Oregon Ducks will face No. 25 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 16 in Las Vegas, Nev., it was announced today. 

The game will kickoff at 12:30 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium and be televised on ABC.

The Ducks (7-4) have not won a bowl game since defeating Florida State, 59-20, in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015 as part of the College Football Playoffs. The Ducks' last bowl appearance came at the end of the 2015 season when they blew a 31-0 halftime lead over TCU to lose 47-41 in three overtimes. 

Boise State (10-3) will enter the game as champions of the Mountain West Conference. The Broncos defeated Fresno State, 17-14 in Saturday's conference championship game. 

The Broncos are led by quarterback Brett Rypien, son of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien who led the Washington franchise to a victory in Super Bowl XXVI in 1992 and was named the game's MVP. 

Brett Rypien this season has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 2,515 yards and 14 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Running back Max Mattison has rushed for 1,074 yards and 12 touchdowns. Boise State's defense has allowed just 22.1 points per game while scoring 32 per game. 

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin is 41-12 at Boise State over four seasons. He is 2-1 in bowl games. Oregon coach Willie Taggart is 0-1 in bowl games having missed two of his team's bowl appearances because he left the team to take another job. 

Taggart could possibly miss Oregon's bowl game against Boise State. He is rumored to be a candidate for the vacant head coaching position at Florida State. 

Oregon is 0-2 all-time against Boise State. The last meeting occurred in 2009 at Boise State in former coach Chip Kelly's debut as a head coach. The Ducks lost 19-8.  Oregon Lost 37-32 to Boise State at home in 2008. 

Oregon will be making its 19th appearance in a bowl game in its last 21 seasons and the Ducks third appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. The last one didn't go so well with Oregon losing 38-8 to BYU in 2006.

SOURCE: Don Pellum to reunite with Chip Kelly at UCLA, coach linebackers

SOURCE: Don Pellum to reunite with Chip Kelly at UCLA, coach linebackers

Former Oregon assistant coach Don Pellum will become the new linebackers coach at UCLA, reuniting him with former Ducks coach Chip Kelly, according to a source.

The Bruins named Kelly as their new coach on Monday, .  

Pellum, who spent more than two decades coaching at Oregon where he played from 1980-1984, coached with Kelly at UO from 2007 through 2012. Kelly served as the Ducks' offensive coordinator from 2007 through 2008 before operating as head coach from 2009 through 2012. 

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Pellum became UO's defensive coordinator under Mark Helfrich in 2014 when the Ducks won the Pac-12 championship, defeated Florida State in the first round of the college football playoffs played in the Rose Bowl and lost to Ohio State in the national championship game.  That season, Oregon allowed 23.6 points per game despite facing one of the most potent groups of offensive opponents in program history. 

The following season, however, Oregon's defense struggled, allowing 37.5 points per game, last in the Pac-12. That led to Pellum stepping down as defensive coordinator and returning to coaching linebackers. 

The defense struggled again in 2016 under coordinator Brady Hoke and the Ducks finished 4-8. Following that season, Oregon fired the entire coaching staff and hired current coach Willie Taggart. 

Pellum did not coach in 2016 but continued to live in Eugene. 

According to the Orange County Register, Kelly is likely to hire Jerry Azzinaro as defensive coordinator. He coached the defensive line at Oregon from 2009 through 2012 before leaving with Kelly when he became the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

There has been speculation that Kelly might hire other former Oregon assistant coaches he worked with in Eugene. Not included among the possible options is Gary Campbell, who has retired from coaching. Plus, UCLA has retained running backs coach DeShaun Foster, according to FootballScoop.com 

Former UO offensive line coach Steve Greatwood, now with California, also will not be joining Kelly in UCLA, which has retained Hank Fraley for that position.

No word on Mark Helfrich, hired by Kelly at Oregon in 2009 to be the offensive coordinator. Helfrich replaced Kelly as Oregon's head coach in 2013. 

 

Pure joy to heartbreak in a matter of seconds. Oregon loses to Boise State 73-70

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Pure joy to heartbreak in a matter of seconds. Oregon loses to Boise State 73-70

How Oregon lost: From pure joy to utter heartbreak in a matter of seconds. That's probably how Oregon fans, coaches, and players felt in the final seconds at Matthew Knight Arena tonight. With time winding down, Oregon sophomore guard Payton Pritchard pushed the pace, drove to the hoop and scored a lay-in with just four seconds left on the clock, the score now tied at 70 a piece. But that was three and a half seconds too many for Broncos guard Lexus Williams who got the ball inbounds quickly, dribbled right to his strong hand, and threw up a prayer from half court. Swish. Nothing but net. A dog pile on one end and a team with hands on their heads and jaws hanging low on the other. The Ducks' 46 home-game win streak comes to an end on a halfcourt shot, and the Boise State Broncos (7-1) come away with the 73-70 win over Oregon (5-3) at Matthew Knight Arena.

"They always hurt, you know, but we put ourself in that position," said Oregon head coach Dana Altman following the game. "Fast break points really hurt us, they had zero at half time and 14 in the second half, we didn't get back and put our defense together. Couple of those were three's which got them going. They were seven of 11 from three in the second half. Put them on the line way too much with really bad fouls. Got beat on second chance points... so lot of work to do. I keep saying that and I know you guys are tired of hearing it, but we got to cut the fouls down and we got to get a lot tougher defensively and a lot tougher on the boards."

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"We can't let this get down and ruin our season," said Pritchard. "But we can't be looking forward to big games or anything like that because obviously any team could beat us right now. So we got to take it one game at a time. Actually, one day at a time for this team."

What it means: The Ducks have some work to do. It starts with toughness on the defensive side of the ball both mentally and physically. The Ducks were out-rebounded as a team 33-30 while giving up 11 offensive rebounds and 11 second chance points. They must have a bigger presence down low grabbing boards and then in turn controlling the pace of play on the offensive side. On the other hand, the Ducks need to show mental toughness and not give up silly fouls like reaching in or not having body control. Those are the types of fouls the player can control. Oregon sent Boise State to the free throw line 25 times tonight.

There is a lot of room for growth for this young Oregon team, but can they get it done by the time conference play comes around?

"All that work is with the tough things," said Altman. "We'll learn to play together better, but the physicality of the game, the defense, the rebounding, that's just got to improve. And it comes down to toughness, and it comes down to leadership."

"Through the game, we should never get comfortable," said Pritchard. "If we're up 30 or down 30, don't matter, so that's just part of us growing up."

High flying Ducks: Pritchard was consistent once again for Oregon displaying his leadership on both sides of the ball. He came up huge for Oregon in the final minutes of tonight's game by controlling the pace and knowing when to drive to the hoop or dish it out to one of his teammates. Pritchard finished with a team-high 28 points on nine-of-16 shooting and with two of his most important points coming with four seconds left on the clock to tie the game 70-70.  

Foul play: Oregon was without freshman guard Troy Brown tonight due to concussion protocol. 6' 7" redshirt senior Mikyle McIntosh fouled out with just over six minutes left in the game and 6' 9" redshirt junior Paul White both fouled out with under a minute to go. 

Up next: Oregon hosts the Colorado State Rams (3-4) Friday, December 8th at 7 PM (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.

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. 

New UCLA coach Chip Kelly could haunt Oregon or get exposed

New UCLA coach Chip Kelly could haunt Oregon or get exposed

Chip Kelly could have returned to the Oregon Ducks last year. He chose not to because he never shared the same level of love for Oregon and its fans that they feel for him, almost embarrassingly so. 

Now Kelly becomes the new coach at UCLA and will be gunning to take down the Ducks program where he made his name as a head coach. The Bruins, who on Monday introduced Kelly during a press conference, will visit Oregon on Nov. 3.  It will be the biggest sporting event in the Northwest in 2018. For the state of Oregon, it will be the equivalent of when former NFL quarterback Brett Favre returned to Green Bay as the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. 

Kelly becoming UCLA's new coach was a punch in the gut for Oregon fans that blindly believed he bled green and yellow. Kelly could have gone to the SEC where he would have only encountered Oregon in a bowl game. But no, he chose to take less money (five years, $23.5 million) than he would have received from Florida, which went after him hard, in order to reside in the Pac-12 where he will compete against the Ducks, and others, for Pac-12 supremacy. 

Should Kelly pick up where he left off at Oregon where he won three conference titles in four years, a Fiesta Bowl, a Rose Bowl and guided UO to a national title game, the Ducks under coach Willie Taggart could be in for a long, painful ride while wondering why Kelly didn't want to return to Oregon. 

The Ducks talked to Kelly last year about a potential return after firing Mark Helfrich following a 4-8 season. Heck, Helfrich, before he was let go, said he reached out to Kelly to ask him to return to UO in order to save the coaching staff. Kelly declined. He reportedly said he didn't want to quit on the San Francisco 49ers despite nearing the end of a 2-14 season. Or, was it really that he simply didn't want to return to Oregon under any circumstances? He had to have known that the 49ers could very well have been ready to quit on him as they did a month later. We could give Kelly the benefit of the doubt and just buy that he stayed with the 49ers out of principle and would have taken the Oregon job if it were available right now. But nobody I've ever spoken to at Oregon that is in the know believes Kelly would ever return to Oregon. 

The Ducks, as it turned out, appear to have lucked out with coach Willie Taggart, the Ducks' seventh choice if we're counting Kelly. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens could very well have made a genius hire in Taggart, who has already demonstrated that with a healthy Justin Herbert at quarterback he can produce the same types of offensive numbers that Kelly did while at Oregon. 

This entire situation presents a double-edged sword for Oregon fans who vilified Helfrich for supposedly destroying what Kelly built. If Oregon's success from 2009 through 2015 was all truly about Kelly, even after he left following the 2012 season, then he should be expected to duplicate that success at UCLA and do so at the expense of Oregon.

Or, maybe Kelly falters in his first opportunity as a coach taking over a rebuild that requires assembling a staff and completely reinventing a program. He's never done that at the college level.

Taggart, however, is in his third stint of rebuilding a program. He is a better recruiter than Kelly is or would ever hope to be given that he dislikes that aspect of college coaching. However, Kelly won't have to work as hard at recruiting while operating in the talent-rich area of Southern California and being armed with a brand new, $65 million Wasserman Football Facility that rivals Oregon's Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. 

So the arms race is on between UCLA and Oregon with much at stake. Taggart not only faces the prospects of living up to grand expectations at Oregon created by Kelly's three consecutive Pac-12 titles (2009-2012) but he will have to match them while competing against Kelly both for players and titles. 

It is quite possible that Oregon and UCLA could meet in a Pac-12 title game soon enough. That is, if the college game hasn't already passed Kelly by. 

Be sure that nobody in the Pac-12 is afraid of Kelly and not because of his unsuccessful stint in the NFL. Kelly didn't fail in the NFL on the field. He failed off of it in terms of dealing with coaching adults. On the field, Kelly had a winning record in Philadelphia despite issues at quarterback. He had no chance to win in San Francisco with that mess of a roster and was let go. His offense scored. He simply was never given enough time to see his rebuilds through to the end. 

So now the question is: Will Kelly live up to his God status with many Oregon fans and dominate at UCLA. Or, will he be exposed for simply being a good coach who caught lightning in a bottle for four years at Oregon? 

In college, Kelly benefited from inheriting an already strong program in place under Mike Bellotti and his staff. The Ducks had already contended for national titles. UCLA under Jim Mora Jr. went 4-8 in 2016 and was 5-6 when he got fired.  

Also, while at Oregon Kelly ran what was then a unique offense in terms of its pace. Not scheme. Pace. Big difference. Oregon's no-huddle offense, adopted by Bellotti in 2005 and sent into overdrive by Kelly, wore down opposing defenses that lacked the offensive firepower to keep pace.  Most of Kelly's victories during the 2010 and 2011 seasons were iced in the second half when close games moved in Oregon's favor because opposing teams ran out of gas. Who will ever forget Cal resorting to having defensive players fake injuries in order to slow down the Ducks' offense?

Today, most of the conference runs up-tempo offenses, and all of the programs have changed the way they prepare on defense in order to be able to hold up over the long haul.  Only six of 10 conference teams in 2010 averaged 25 points or more with four over scoring more than 30 per game. This season, 11 teams averaged 25 points or more with eight averaging 30 or more. 

This doesn't mean Kelly can't overcome the trend if he averages about 45 per game again as he did at Oregon. What will be interesting is to see if he can make sure UCLA is good enough on defense to avoid seeing opponents, such as Oregon, also rack up 40 on the Bruins while they give no regard to time of possession. 

Kelly has never before had to deal with that dilemma. Well, he sort of did in the NFL and it didn't quite workout so well. 

That said, one of Kelly's strength is stressing and teaching fundamentals. Ask any of his former players and they will tell you that his attention to detail and the culture he created at UO helped foster success. As for the Xs and Os, Kelly will make sure UCLA doesn't beat itself very often. 

However this all plays out, Kelly being back in the Pac-12 promises to be quite entertaining. Either the Ducks will return to championship form and in the process damage the Kelly mythology that has some comparing him to Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Or, Kelly will live up to his legacy and by doing so, deny Oregon its return to glory along the way, which would be a double whammy for Ducks fans. 

Can't wait to see how this plays out. 

Where could the Ducks go bowling?

Where could the Ducks go bowling?

All signs appear to point toward the Oregon Ducks (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) landing in the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 26 in Tempe, Ariz.  But that's not where all prognosticators see the Ducks playing in December.  

Here is a look at some of the latest bowl projections floating around the Internet:

NBC Sports: Cactus Bowl vs. Kansas State (7-5). 

Athlon Sports: Cactus Bowl vs. Kansas State (7-5). . 

Bleacher Report: Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 16 vs. Fresno State (9-3).

CBS Sports: Cactus Bowl vs. Texas Tech (6-6).

College Football News: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas, Dec. 29 vs. North Carolina State (8-4). 

ESPN.com: Cactus Bowl vs. Texas Tech (6-6) or the Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise State (9-3).

SBNation: Cactus Bowl vs. West Virginia (7-5).

Sports Illustrated: Sun Bowl vs. Louisville (8-4). 

Sporting News: Foster Farms Bowl, Santa Clara, Calif., Dec. 27 vs. Purdue (6-6). 

YahooSports: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise State (9-3).