Florida Gators

Threat of Taggart leaving UO could become an annual thing

Threat of Taggart leaving UO could become an annual thing

The rumors and speculation that Florida plans to pluck coach Willie Taggart from Oregon's nest won't go away.

Not even after Taggart said Monday that he is committed to Oregon and is focused solely on preparing to face No. 12 Washington on Saturday in Seattle. Nor did the chatter die down after players revealed that Taggart told the team during dinner later that evening that those linking his name to Florida were in error. That discussion came about after Taggart's oldest son, Willie Jr., sent him a text from Sheldon High School asking if the family would be moving yet again. 

Willie Jr.'s instincts to check in were correct. Eventually, the Taggart family will leave Eugene. The question is when, not if. And it doesn't matter what Taggart says publicly. Name me a coach that ever responded to rumors that he would be leaving by coming out in the middle of a season and saying, "yep, I'm leaving. See ya."  It simply doesn't work that way. 

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If you didn't like the Taggart hire last December on the heels of firing Mark Helfrich and his entire staff then you couldn't care less if Taggart were to pack up and leave tomorrow. In fact, you might be willing to help him box up some items and load furniture onto a moving truck. Maybe he would dump some used Oregon gear on you. 

If you did like the hire and have been inspired by the staff's energy and impressed by the bountiful recruiting class that's on the way, then you should be nervous. Very nervous. Not necessarily because he might leave this year, but because the speculation about him leaving is going to become an annual thing, especially if he succeeds in returning the Ducks to national prominence.

According to Sources, Taggart is not a prime candidate to replace the fired Jim McElwain despite the rampant rumors that say otherwise. In fact, former Oregon offensive coordinator and Central Florida coach Scott Frost is said to be a far more desired replacement to coach the Gators. That's good news for Oregon because I will go on record right now and state that if Florida, Florida State or Miami came after Taggart he would be gone. It would be very difficult for him to say no. His mother, Gloria, still resides in his hometown of Palmetto, Fla.  One has to imagine that Taggart would prefer to live and work closer to his mother, especially after his father, John Taggart, sadly passed away last summer. 

So if you like Taggart, pray that Florida gets its first choice and doesn't come after Taggart just as Oregon did during its search, which, coincidentally included McElwain at the top of the list of desired replacements for Helfrich. 

Taggart leaving right now would be devastating for the Oregon program. Remember, Taggart was Oregon's fifth or sixth choice depending on which reports from the time of the search you choose believe. The Ducks lured him away from South Florida after others had already rebuffed Oregon's interest. Personally, I think UO lucked out by landing and up-and-coming coaching star who is an elite recruiter from an area rich with talent. 

Taggart would most certainly raid UO's recruiting class, currently ranked No. 5 on Rivals.com and No. 6 on 247Sports. The class includes four players from Florida, two from Texas, one from Georgia and one from North Carolina. Those guys would likely follow Taggart to Florida, which is closer to home for all eight. And given that Taggart has been able to get players from the south to commit to Eugene he certainly would be able to convince players from Arizona and California to head to Florida. 

That would leave Oregon scrambling to find a suitable replacement that could possibly save as much of the recruiting class as possible. A positive for UO in this scenario is that Florida's class is ranked No. 7 on 247Sports, so maybe Taggart wouldn't want many of UO's current commits. 

One of the potential pitfalls of firing Helfrich is ending up in a situation where a new coach views Oregon as a stepping-stone to a better job. Chances were that Helfrich, born and raised on Coos Bay, would have never left Oregon. Taggart, on the other hand, likely won't finish out his five-year, $17 million contract if he is able to get the Ducks back into national contention. 

It would be the third program he would have reinvented, following his stints at Western Kentucky and South Florida. Certainly, higher-profile programs in far better recruiting areas would pursue Taggart if he brings the Ducks back to prominence. 

Would Oregon circle back to McElwain? That certainly wouldn't fire up the Oregon fan base. 

The best game plan for Oregon should Taggart bolt would be to keep a high-end assistant in the fold to hopefully maintain some level of continuity. The Ducks would be wise to elevate defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt or co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal to head coach. 

Leavitt, who coached South Florida before Taggart did, is rumored to be waiting to take over Kansas State once Billy Snyder retires. Cristobal, once the head coach at Florida International, would likely take the Oregon job tomorrow. 

On one hand, Oregon is in a good situation with a seemingly hot commodity at head coach. On the other hand, that's not always good if that coach has other plans elsewhere in the back of his mind. Those plans would certainly involve a major program from his home state. 

Get used to it Oregon fans. Taggart's status with UO could become an annual concern.

SOURCES: Taggart not headed to Florida but Frost very well could be

SOURCES: Taggart not headed to Florida but Frost very well could be

UPDATED: Taggart commented on the rumors during his noon press conference.

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Oregon coach Willie Taggart is not going to become the new coach at Florida, according to multiple sources.

So we can squash any speculation on that front right away.  But No. 15 Central Florida coach Scott Frost, a former UO assistant, very well could become the Gator's new coach, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. 

During his noon press conference, Taggart said that he hasn't been contacted by Florida.

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"I have not been contacted by anyone," he said. "The only AD I've been contacted by is Rob Mullens, and I love that guy. I'm committed to the University of Oregon and focused on Washington, a big time game for us this week."

Florida fired Jim McElwain over the weekend leading to the usual widespread rumors about who will replace him and Taggart's name has surfaced. It's only logical that his name is being thrown around given that he is from Palmetto, Fla., and he rebuilt South Florida before becoming Oregon's head coach last December. 

However, according to sources, Taggart has no plans to leave Oregon and has not been offered the Florida
job. But, Frost is certainly a top target of the Gators.

Frost was Oregon's offensive coordinator at Oregon from 2013 through 2015 and helped coach quarterback Marcus Mariota during his Heisman Trophy season (2014). He took over Central Florida in the winter of 2015 after the Knights went 0-12. Frost got UCF to 6-7 last year and now has it at 7-0 and 4-0 in the American Athletic Conference.

It would be a big leap for Frost to go from UCF to Florida after just two seasons as a head coach in a non-Power Five conference. One would think that on paper, Taggart would be the much more desired candidate given that he also rebuilt Western Kentucky before moving on to USF.  

Then again, the college football coaching world very rarely makes sense. Remember that McElwain was a top target of Oregon's before he declined the Ducks' offer leading to UO ultimately hiring Taggart. Frost Frost was never a candidate for the UO job.

Now, McElwain is out at Florida and Frost could be the guy to replace him.

Taggart has a 45-49 lifetime record that is somewhat deciding. WKU had lost 21-straight games before he took over the program in 2010. He went 2-10 that first season before going 7-5 in each of the next two seasons before going to USF in 2013. Western Kentucky has continued to flourish since he departed.

At USF, Taggart inherited a 3-9 team and went 2-10 then 4-8. Along the way he switched to the spread offense and it finally took in year three when the Bulls went 8-5. Last year USF went 10-2 leading to Taggart being offered the Oregon job. 

Oregon, 4-8 last season, will be Taggart's third rebuilding project. It got off to a strong start before quarterback Justin Herbert went down with a collarbone injury against California on Sept. 30. The Ducks were 4-1 after that night but lost three straight without Herbert before ending the losing streak with a 41-20 win over Utah on Saturday. 

Oregon (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) plays at No. 12 Washington (7-1, 4-1) on Saturday. 

College World Series: Beavers the favorites, but the road isn't easy

College World Series: Beavers the favorites, but the road isn't easy

Pac-12 Championship. Check.

No.1 overall national seed. Check .

Advance through the Regionals. Check.

Sweep the Super Regionals, punch ticket to Omaha. Check.

Win the College World Series. To be determined.

The Oregon State Beavers (54-4) arrive in Omaha this week riding a 21-game win streak, and as heavy favorites to win the College World Series (CWS) Championship. Joining them in Nebraska will be Florida, LSU, Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, Louisville, Texas A&M, and TCU.

-- A full schedule can be found here --

The Beavers’ road to another title starts on Saturday when they take on Cal State Fullerton (39-22).  In six postseason games the Titans have outscored their opponents 35-9, and have allowed just one run over their last 25 innings. The Titans have one of the better pitching staffs in the country with a 3.57 ERA, the 23rd best in the nation. However, it pales in comparison to the incredible numbers Oregon State has put up. The Beavers lead the nation with an amazing 1.80 ERA. That’s nearly two runs better than Fullerton’s, and a full run better than Louisville’s 2.85, which is the third best in the country.

It still remains to be seen if Oregon State’s Luke Heimlich will pitch in the CWS. Heimlich holds the best ERA of any pitcher in the nation, at 0.76, but is dealing with off-the-field issues stemming from a sexual molestation charge prior to his arrival at Oregon State.

With or without Heimlich, the Oregon State pitching staff is a force to be reckoned with. Fellow starting pitcher Jake Thompson has the nation’s fifth best ERA at 1.58, and Bryce Fehmel showed he can be leaned on in Omaha after a great spot start against Vanderbilt; a complete game victory where he allowed just one earned run on five hits.

As Eric Sorenson of D1Baseball.com pointed out on Monday’s edition of Talkin’ Ball, this early matchup with the Titans holds a lot of intrigue. These are two teams that could match up in the finals if they were in opposite brackets. So right out of the gate Oregon State will be tested. 

As noted above, Oregon State by far has the better pitching staff, and as Sorenson notes, they also are the better hitting team. All things on paper point to Oregon State getting past Fullerton, but as we all know, games aren’t played on paper, they are played on a diamond.

Depending on if they win or lose, Oregon State will play either LSU (48-17) or Florida State (45-21).

LSU is riding an Oregon State-esque hot streak. The Tigers have won 16 games in a row, outscoring opponents 136-45 in that stretch, and overall has won 21 of its last 23. LSU reminds you a lot of this Beavers squad: Great pitching (3.53 team ERA), great hitting (2.94 team batting average), and lots of grit. Could the Tigers be the ones to take out OSU?

Facing off againt LSU: The Florida State Seminoles. Florida State falls in line with many of the teams heading to Omaha in that they got their on the backs of their pitching staff. Returning to the CWS for the first time since 2012, the Seminoles have the 36th best ERA in the nation at 3.72. The team has allowed 18 runs this postseason, with their starters allowing just nine runs in 48 innings pitched. Strong pitching is definitely a theme this year in Omaha.

On the other side of the CWS bracket are Florida (47-18), Louisville (52-10), Texas A&M (41-21), and TCU (47-16).

Florida returns to Omaha for the third season in a row, but is still looking for that elusive championship.  Could this be the year for the Gators? Florida leads the nation in one run victories, with 18, and has already played three extra inning games this postseason. The Gators have a flair for the dramatic and like to keep things interesting to say the least.  Their team 3.22 ERA, the 22nd best in the country, helps them out, but they will need a little more from their offense for the Gators fan base to breath a little.

Their first opponent, TCU, has quickly become one of the best programs in the nation. The Horned Frogs are appearing in their fourth straight College Worlds Series, and fifth in program history. Their pitching staff has the worst ERA of any team in the CWS (3.99), but their .272 team batting average is one of the best in the CWS. Their solid hitters should make for some good matchups with the better pitching staffs in Omaha.

Moving on, we have Texas A&M. The Aggies return to the CWS for the first time since 2011, and behind some solid arms could make it all the way. A&M has the 15th best ERA in the nation at 3.42, and starting pitcher Brigham Hill has been a stud this postseason. The Aggies have a good baseball team, however, their first game is against a very tough Louisville team. It will be a great chance to see if A&M will sink or swim.

Speaking of Louisville, the Cardinals, like Oregon State, are heavy favorites to get through their bracket and play in the championship. Much like the Beavers, the Cardinals are extremely balanced both in the batter's box and on the mound. They have the third best ERA in the country (2.85), and the 67th best batting average (.289). The 67th best average may not sound like much, but that is the third best average of the eight teams in the CWS.

Louisville vs. Oregon State in the CWS championship seems like a good bet. Not only would it be the matchup we all want to see, it would make for some of the best baseball games you can imagine. But this is Omaha. This is the College World Series. You never know what will happen at TD Ameritrade Park.

--Schedule update per the press release from the NCAA--

 “The first game this Saturday is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. CT, and will feature Cal State Fullerton (39-22) against No. 1 national seed Oregon State (54-4). Saturday’s second game features No. 4 national seed LSU (48-17) against Florida State (45-21), and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CT.

The Sunday doubleheader features the No. 7 national seed Louisville (52-10) vs. Texas A&M (41-21) at 1 p.m. CT. In the evening game starting at 6 p.m. CT, No. 6 national seed TCU (47-16) will be squaring off against No. 3 national seed Florida (47-18).

The losers of Saturday’s two games will play at 1 p.m. CT Monday, June 19. While Saturday’s winners face off at 6 p.m. CT Monday, June 19.

The losers of Sunday’s games will play each other at 1 p.m. CT Tuesday, June 20. Sunday’s winners will meet Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m. CT. The winners of the two brackets will play a best-of-three College World Series Finals, with the first game set for 6 p.m. CT Monday, June 26. The second game is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT Tuesday, June 27, while the third and deciding game (if necessary) is slated for 7 p.m. CT Wednesday, June 28.”

For more information visit ncca.com

Tennessee to Oregon, "You have a friend in me"

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Tennessee Vols

Tennessee to Oregon, "You have a friend in me"

Late last week I asked if Oregon and Tennessee just became best friends after a Tweet from the Oregon Ducks trolled the Volunteers rival, and Week 4 opponent, the Florida Gators.

If the Volunteer’s lastest video on social media is any indication, then the two schools have indeed started a budding friendship.

On Monday the Volunteers, fresh off of ending an eleven-game losing streak to the Gators, took to Twitter to thank the Ducks for their support.

The Tweet read, "Hey [Oregon], apparently pulling trucks makes you hungry. You have a friend in me. Your Friend, Smokey," and had the following video attached to it:

If mascots can really be friends, than The Duck and Smokey are BFFs. Woody and Buzz would be proud.

Did Oregon and Tennessee just become best friends?

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USA Today

Did Oregon and Tennessee just become best friends?

Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson is public enemy number one in the state of Tennessee.  Ahead of the Florida-Tennessee rivalry, Wilson said the Vols have zero chance of beating the Gators. He just said it a little more creatively.

“Have you ever seen a duck pull a truck? Ducks don’t pull trucks. Nobody has ever seen a duck pull a truck. Florida Gators are going to win, simple as that.”

Creative, yes, but maybe not wholly accurate. You see, the Oregon Ducks caught wind of Wilson’s metaphor and responded in the only way possible; by showing a Duck pull a truck.

The Ducks’ tweet swept over Vol Nation and Tennessee fans quickly found their new best friend.

The official Tennessee Football Twitter account even responded the frog and tea emoji. A prefect troll from Oregon, and the prefect response from the Vols.

Neyland Stadium should be rocking on Saturday when Tennessee hosts Florida. 100,000 plus fans in Orange for the Vols,  and maybe a little Orange for the Ducks new uniforms.