Aaron Fentress

Karma bit Oregon in the backside, but the Ducks will recover

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Karma bit Oregon in the backside, but the Ducks will recover

In the end, Oregon got what it deserved. 

Karma bit the Ducks in the backside when former coach Willie Taggart, after one Swag Surfin' season, hopped on his boogie board and glided out of town to become Florida State's new coach, leaving behind a lot of angry UO fans and jilted players (see Troy Dye).

For the first time ever (or at least based on what I can tell), an Oregon football coach has flat out left the program for another college job. It's no coincidence that this occurred a year after Oregon fired a coach for the first time in 40 years. 

Yes, I'm back on the Mark Helfrich kick once again. But only because I warned this time last year last year that firing Helfrich after one losing season and just two years removed from guiding Oregon to the nation title game could set into motion a vicious cycle of coaches coming in and out of the program for a variety of reasons. 

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Here we are a year later and the Ducks are already searching for their second coach post Helfrich. 

What's most amusing is all of the whining about "loyalty." Really? Loyalty is not sending a group of coaches that had accomplished so much at Oregon out to recruit when the writing was on the wall that they would be fired, then firing them while they literally were in the process of meeting with recruits. That was a messed up and totally disrespectful move by athletic director Rob Mullens on every level.

One recruit's family member, who wished to remain anonymous, recalled an awkward home visit with Helfrich, who clearly believed he was on thin ice. Helfrich told the family that he didn't know if he would remain Oregon's coach while also trying to recruit the player to UO.

That's just wrong. Let's go ahead and set aside Helfrich for a moment, how does one place in the same situation former long-time assistants like Steve Greatwood, Don Pellum, Gary Campbell, Tom Osborne and John Neal? 

Those guys only helped anchor the greatest era in Oregon football and what will likely remain the greatest era into the near future unless the Ducks magically win a national title, which remains only remotely possible. 

How Taggart dealt with Oregon's players is another story. But in terms of the business side of things. spare me the talk about how disloyal Taggart was to a program he worked for only one year. Especially considering that he didn't leave the Ducks for, say, Arkansas or Louisville. He left Oregon for Florida State, an all-time marquee program that Oregon can't measure up to, and it just so happens to be the team he grew up rooting for while growing up in Palmetto, Fla., where his widowed mother still resides. 

That, right there, is loyalty. Loyalty to family. Loyalty to roots. Loyalty to that childhood connection many of you have with Oregon. And, yes, loyalty to the almighty dollar, because Florida State offered more money (six years and $30 million) than Oregon did. 

And don't think that Taggart hadn't noticed how Helfrich and company were treated when fired.

During a candid conversation with Taggart last February, he said that he believed that the previous staff were unfairly fired given all that they had accomplished. But, that's the business, he added. On Tuesday, he played that business to his advantage. 

Oregon had avoided that side of the business for decades because the program didn't panic when things went south, as they did last year when the Ducks went 4-8 under Helfrich during the program's first losing season in 12 years. Oregon had a legacy coaching tree in place that went from Rich Brooks to Mike Bellotti to Chip Kelly to Helfrich. The latter three were promoted from within after serving as offensive coordinators to their predecessor. Bellotti retired from coaching in 2009 order to promote Kelly. Kelly left for the NFL in 2013 opening the door for Helfrich. All three came within a game, or two, of winning the national title. 

Then, well, Oregon got too big for its britches. The Ducks fans and hierarchy decided that the program was far too big to ever have a down season, which of course is absurd. So, UO blew out the former coaching staff and set out to find someone that would return the program to glory. 

That someone was expected to be Taggart. Oops. 

What Mullens should have done last year was sat Helfrich down and given him the "win or else" talk. Mullens should have made it clear that he must at least reach a bowl game in 2017 and reestablish discipline in the locker room.

One former assistant coach who didn't believe that the staff would be fired up until they were, stated late last season that had the staff returned in 2017 and had another losing season, he would fire himself.  

Instead, Mullens pulled the trigger last year. Clearly, he believed that Oregon could do better than a staff that had won four Pac-12 titles, two Rose Bowls and a Fiesta Bowl in six years. Yet, he ended up striking out with all of the so-called "big named" candidates before hiring a young coach in Taggart on the speculation that he was ready to thrive. 

Truth be told, I liked the hire. It was a bold roll of the dice on a young coach. Oh, and he is African-American, which for me (also African-American and long annoyed by the clear racism involved when it comes to the hiring of football coaches of color) earned Mullens triple bonus points.  

But the right move still remains to have given Helfrich and company one year to turn things around. With quarterback Justin Herbert in place, that turnaround would have happened and Oregon wouldn't be in the mess that it is now. 

The good news is that Oregon should still be able to find a good coach to lead what will be a potentially really good team in 2018. The trick, though, is finding someone that cares as much about Oregon as Oregon cares about winning. 

For all of its bells and whistles, Oregon is not a marquee job. The stadium is small, it's tough to get to Eugene, the region is short on recruits, the fan base is fickle and not nearly as rooted as they are in places such as Michigan, Nebraska, Texas and Florida State. Oregon has accomplished a lot with many disadvantages thanks to what was an innovative offense, Nike's support and brilliant marketing that elevated the Ducks brand, making UO a desirable place to play for high-end recruits. But not many proven coaches out there are going to view Oregon as a destination job. Helfrich did. But UO wasn't even on Taggart's radar until he interviewed for the job. 

So where does UO go from here. 

Kevin Sumlin and Mario Cristobal are good options. Sumlin, fired this year by Texas A&M, is looking to rebuild his career. Cristobal, once fired by Florida International and from Miami, Fla., longs to return to being a head coach. 

But would either consider Oregon a place to set up roots? At this point, Mullens will have to build a contract for UO's next coach that makes it very painful to leave for another collegiate program.  He failed to do that with Taggart. However, I'll bet that Taggart and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, would not have allowed such language to get in the way of the coach taking off for FSU. 

All of this is why I want to see Oregon go after California coach Justin Wilcox. He is an up-and-coming talent that has deep connections to Oregon. He played there. His brother, father and uncle also played there. He likely wouldn't leave Oregon down the road unless it were to jump to the NFL. 

Hiring Wilcox would return the Ducks to a place that values connections and roots, a formula tha worked so well for 40 years, save for a few bumps in the road such as the 2016 season. 

Whatever Oregon does, the Ducks will have a chance to return to greatness but will never avoid having bumps in the road here and there. Few programs ever do.  

But maybe returning to the past in terms of how the program hires and fire people should be more important than the unrealistic quest to become something the program will never be, a place strong enough to keep a Taggart from jetting off to a Florida State.  

At the end of the day, the entire Helfrich debate comes down to one more year. Had he succeeded, everyone would be happy. Had he failed, then he would be gone. The former staff deserved that one year more so than a Florida State fan with ambitions beyond Oregon. 

Oregon linebacker Troy Dye calls out Willie Taggart on Twitter

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Oregon linebacker Troy Dye calls out Willie Taggart on Twitter

Oregon linebacker Troy Dye called out former coach Willie Taggart on Twitter today. 

The sophomore retweeted and responded to my tweet regarding Taggart, introduded today as Florida State's head coach, admitting that FSU contacted him on Thursday despite having told the media that he had not heard from FSU through the weekend. 


Dye's brother, three-star running back Travis Dye, committed to Oregon's 2018 recruiting class. 

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Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens revealed Tuesday that Taggart informed him about FSU reaching out to him on Thursday. 

Taggart left Oregon yesterday after one season with the Ducks. 

Some players and recruits are claiming that Taggart was not truthful with them through the process. 

Freshman safety Nick Pickett also made a comment on Twitter about Taggart. 

Editor's note: The tweet has since been taken down

It must be pointed out that one freshman player told me that he told Taggart after the team meeting on Tuesday that he was proud of him and gave him a hug. 

So, not everyone at UO is down on Taggart. But clearly, some are regarding the way he handled his exit. 


Oregon should make a run at Cal coach Justin Wilcox to replace Taggart

Oregon should make a run at Cal coach Justin Wilcox to replace Taggart

Florida State introduced Willie Taggart as its new head coach today in Tallahassee, Fla.

Taggart has returned to his home state to coach his favorite team growing up as a child in Palmetto, Fla. 

I know. It hurts. But all is not lost for the Oregon Ducks. 

A good team will return next season along with a recruiting class that ultimately will remain strong despite a handful of decommits. And, most importantly, a superstar quarterback is already in place. 

A 10-win season next year is a possibility regardless of who coaches the team. Remember that the team we saw on the field this year was not built by Taggart. Every starter on offense, including freshman receiver Johnny Johnson III, and every starter on defense other than defensive tackle Jordon Scott and cornerback Thomas Graham, but including freshman safety Nick Pickett, were recruited by Mark Helfrich and the previous staff.  That team, when quarterback Justin Herbert was healthy, looked like a potential 10-win team. Most of the starters will return in 2018. So, there's no reason to believe that another good coach couldn't lead this team to glory. 

My early vote for the man to be that coach is California's Justin Wilcox. 

First off, the former Oregon defensive back grew up in Oregon. His father, pro football hall of fame linebacker Dave Wilcox, brother Josh Wilcox and uncle John Wilcox, also played for the Ducks. He has stronger ties to Oregon than Taggart has to Florida State, where Taggart didn't play. 

Is Oregon Wilcox's dream job? I have no idea. But I imagine he likes money and I believe that he could be had quite easily by the Ducks. The contract he signed at Cal is worth just under $10 million over five years. That's chump change to Oregon, which offered Taggart at least $4 million per year before he took a six-year, $30 million deal from FSU.

Oregon could offer Wilcox $3 million to $3.5 million per year and he'd probably jump at the chance to coach the Ducks. Plus, if he were to have success at UO, Wilcox likely wouldn't look for the first escape route toward a bigger program as Taggart just did.

Wilcox is an inexperienced head coach, to be sure. But the former defensive coordinator at USC, Washington, Tennessee and Wisconsin appears to be on the rise. 

The Golden Bears went just 5-7. That's hardly sexy. But why wait for him to win big elsewhere? Have the vision to get him now, before he blows up.  

Cal lost three games by a field goal or less this season. The offense was the problem, but not from a coaching standpoint. The team lacked explosive talent on offense and had a young quarterback while averaging just 27.8 points per game, 10th in the Pac-12 Conference. Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who could accompany Wilcox to Oregon unless Cal were to name him head coach, would do wonders with Oregon's offensive talent. Remember that it was Baldwin who developed Vernon Adams Jr. before he transferred to Oregon in 2015.

Defensively, Wilcox did for Cal what Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt did for the Ducks. Cal this season allowed 28.4 points per game compared to 28.2 for Oregon. Both allowed just over 40 points per game in 2016. 

Wilcox would make sure Oregon's defense continued to improve while the Ducks' offense is already ready to roll.  Give Wilcox 40 points per game to work with and he could easily win 10 games next season. 

Other viable options also exist that would keep Oregon on track toward greater success. Here are four other coaches that could very well already be on Oregon's radar listed in order of preference with the knowledge that Wilcox is No. 1:

2. Mario Cristobal: Oregon's co-offensive coordinator, who will serve as the team's interim coach during the Dec. 16 Las Vegas Bowl, would be a logical candidate in order to maintain continuity following Taggart's departure. Reports say that Leavitt will accompany Taggart to FSU, which leaves Cristobal as the best option already in house. Cristobal has head coaching experience, is considered to be a great recruiter and could help to keep the Ducks' promising 2018 recruiting class largely intact. Maybe Cristobal could convince co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo to remain on as the offensive coordinator if he isn't planning on joining Taggart to FSU. 

3. Kevin Sumlin: Sumlin was fired recently by Texas A&M where he went 51-26 over six seasons in the rugged SEC. He is an offensive guru that would likely get the most out of Herbert. Former Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy in 2012 while playing for Sumlin. He has the kind of big name that Oregon was after in 2016 before hiring Taggart. The problem with Sumlin is that if he had success at Oregon he could be the type of coach that immediately starts looking elsewhere for a better situation. 

4. Les Miles: There is not an unemployed coach out there with a better resume. The former LSU coach almost always had great defenses with the Tigers in the SEC. Yes, his offenses struggled late during his tenure at LSU. But they were once good enough to get him a national title during the 2007 season and could be very good with Herbert running the show on the field. Miles went 114-34 over 12 seasons at LSU. That's a dynamic record given the competition he faced. Miles never won fewer than eight games and won 10 or more seven times. 

5. Bryan Harsin: The Boise State coach was on Oregon's radar last year and should be considered a viable candidate this time around. He is 41-12 over four seasons at Boise State and just won his second Mountain West Conference championship. 

BREAKING: Willie Taggart is leaving Oregon for Florida State

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BREAKING: Willie Taggart is leaving Oregon for Florida State

Willie Taggart is leaving the Oregon Ducks after one season to become the next coach at Florida State, according to a source. 

Taggart informed the team during a 1:15 p.m.  team meeting. 

Co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal will serve as the interim head coach for Oregon's Dec. 16 game against Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. It is being reported that defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will follow Taggart to Florida State. 

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens issued the following statement: “We thank Willie for his efforts at Oregon, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. I am grateful to Mario Cristobal for his willingness to step up and lead our program through our upcoming bowl game. The University of Oregon is a high-caliber academic institution with one of the premier college football programs in the country, and we are confident that we will find another outstanding coach to lead our tremendous group of student-athletes into the future."

Mullens will hold a press conference today at 4 p.m.

Taggart met with FSU officials on Monday after being contacted by the Seminoles Sunday night. The meeting came after Taggart and co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo met with four-star quarterback recruit Tyler Shough in Chandler, Ariz.  

Taggart will replace Jimbo Fisher who has accepted a 10-year, $75 million contract to coach Texas A&M.  

Bruce Feldman also reported the news. 

According to sources, Taggart has agonized over the decision. But in the end, Florida State has always been his dream job and he couldn't pass up the opportunity. 

Taggart's move places 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 will 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 being turned down by several prospective coaches, including former UO coach Chip Kelly now the coach at UCLA. 

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. 

Other potential candidates include California coach Justin Wilcox and former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. 


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

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

Developing story.


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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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. 


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. 


Taggart offers little clarity regarding future at UO

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

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. 


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: