One has to wonder who called whom first?
Did soon-to-be former co-offensive coordinator David Reaves call Oregon coach Willie Taggart to inform his boss that he had been arrested for DUII and reckless driving at 2:12 a.m. early Sunday morning? Or, did Taggart call Reaves after hearing the news from a third party?
That third party could have been UO director of athletics Rob Mullens. Did Mullens learn of the incident then call Taggart? Or, did Taggart find himself in the position of having to call Mullens to inform him that the Ducks were about to be embroiled in their second controversy involving a coach in less than a week?
However the chain of communication went down the discussions probably involved a lot of profane language.
What happened with Reaves is certainly unfortunate, especially on the heels of last week's controversy surrounding three players being hospitalized following grueling workouts that led to strength coach Irele Oderinde being suspended for a month.
After six weeks of hot recruiting, putting together a great staff and reenergizing the fan base after a 4-8 season, Taggart finds himself having to deal with back-to-back controversies. But while Reaves' situation is certainly unfortunate, let's not blow this thing out of proportion and start tossing blame around for sport.
This is 100 percent on Reaves. He is a 38-year-old married man with children who just signed a two-year contract worth $300,000 per year to coach at Oregon then decided that he would get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. And he did so on a weekend when he should have been solely focused on swooning teenagers from across the country sent to Eugene by their parents to decide if they want to play for the Ducks.
Horrible judgment. Let's hope Reaves comes out of this okay in the long run and resumes a successful career.
As for Taggart, he knew his assistant coach well. They worked together for four seasons at South Florida. So there's reason to wonder if Taggart had any prior knowledge that Reaves would be a candidate to do something so irresponsible. Or, it's simply possible that Taggart was completely blindsided. Either way, Taggart shouldn't be blamed for Reaves' actions.
What Taggart should be judged on is how well he responds to this mess. So far he has been silent publicly on the subject. He is likely very busy searching for a replacement. LSU wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig could be a possibility. Back in December Craig was reportedly a candidate to become UO's offensive coordinator.
As long as these two coach-involved events don't torpedo what looks to be a strong recruiting class by causing recruits to decommit, or not commit at all, the program won't experience any long-term impact from Reaves' arrest and subsequent firing. He would likely become a footnote in history very quickly.
What Oregon doesn't want is for parents and recruits to wonder what's going on with this new coaching staff in Eugene. Drunk driving. Players sent to the hospital following workouts. What's next?
Taggart said last week that he expected opposing programs to use the hospitalization of players as fodder for negative recruiting. Imagine what Pac-12 rivals could do with the Reaves story.
The person at Oregon who should be gripping the most is Mullens. Ultimately, this is his baby. Mullens' legacy at Oregon will largely be shaped by the success or failure of Taggart. Mullens, hired in July of 2010, had nothing to do with the hiring of men's basketball coach Dana Altman, hired in April of 2010.
Mullens has had zero to do with Oregon's success on the football field. The team was already humming before his arrival. Yet, he had the power to get rid of those who helped make the Ducks a national power and he wielded that power after the program's first losing season in 12 years.
There were plenty of fans and boosters that didn't want to see the entire staff gutted, and who haven't exactly been enamored with the hiring of Taggart, who successfully rebuilt Western Kentucky and South Florida but has yet to captain a Power Five conference team on game day.
In other words, there are enough skeptics out there to make life very uncomfortable for Mullens if this doesn't work out very well.
Remember, Helfrich's losing season was magnified by player criminal misconduct, reports of players not being held accountable for football-related laziness and some recruiting missteps. All of the above would have been ignored had the Ducks been in contention for the Pac-12 title in 2016. Going 4-8 made those misgivings stand out and gave Mullens more ammunition to justify pulling the trigger on the entire coaching staff.
All of Taggart's early problems will also be ignored if he wins. If not, then the incidents involving Oderinde and Reaves will become much bigger deals down the line. But Mullens can't simply fire Taggart and eat whatever is left on his five-year, $16 million deal as he did when UO swallowed $11.6 million to fire Helfrich.
If Taggart goes, Mullens likely goes, as well. Heck, he might leave on his own before any real judgement can be made on Taggart.
Either way, Mullens needs this to work. It has a good chance to do so. There have been far greater positives than negatives surrounding the program since Taggart's arrival.
But all of the negative national press at the moment reflects poorly on the program that Mullens essentially took over with the firing of Helfrich.