Willie Taggart

FAU is a dream job... Willie Taggart, probably

FAU is a dream job... Willie Taggart, probably

Florida Atlantic did something. 

On Wednesday, it was announced that Willie Taggart will be the next head coach to replace the departed Lane Kiffin. 

Kiffin will be the next head coach at Ole Miss.

[RELATED]: Oregon State adds home-and-home series with Ole Miss, New Mexico

Taggart spent one season as Oregon’s head football coach before departing for his “dream job” at Florida State. Taggart coached the Ducks to a 7-5 record, but quickly left Eugene before the Las Vegas Bowl for Tallahassee. Taggart lead the team to a 5-7 record in his first season (2018-19). Nine games into his second season, Florida State fired Taggart following a 27-10 loss to the Miami Hurricanes. FSU paid Taggart $18 million to leave.

Now, he's on to yet another position, his fourth team in four years. The Florida Atlantic Owls did something and took a chance on the head coach. They will have to live with that decision, but maybe not for more than a year or two. 

Polarizing reactions to Willie Taggart's "dream job" dismissal

Polarizing reactions to Willie Taggart's "dream job" dismissal

Willie Taggart coached 21 games at Florida State before he was dismissed as head coach on Sunday. The “Do Something” slogan creator left the Oregon football program after the 2017 season to take his Florida State dream job, which left many Duck fans feeling slighted. The Ducks promoted Mario Cristobal to head coach and in his second season are ranked No. 7, with a 8-1 overall record and undefeated in Pac-12 Conference play.

Taggart’s buyout from FSU is the second largest buyout in college football history, at approximately $17 million. Charlie Weis was paid $18.9 million to leave Notre Dame. Although, the Seminoles will end up paying three buyouts that total $20 million, which include paying out the contracts with Oregon and South Florida.

Those are the facts, now these are the reactions.

GRASS ISN'T ALWAYS GREENER

https://twitter.com/geemygeem/status/1191114529444286464?s=20

NUMBERS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND

https://twitter.com/VegasDUCKfan58/status/1191118122729623552?s=20

THANKS, FSU

SHOCK

Florida State Did Something: Willie Taggart fired by FSU nine games into his second season

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USATI

Florida State Did Something: Willie Taggart fired by FSU nine games into his second season

The Willie Taggart era in Oregon was nearly over before it started. Taggart spent just one season in Eugene before leaving for his 'dream job' as the Florida State Head Coach. 

Now, that dream has come to an end. 

Taggart went 5-7 in his first year at FSU and the team currently sits at 4-5 on the season including losses to Boise State, Virginia, Clemson, Wake Forest, and most recently at 27-10 loss to Miami. 

Taggart originally signed a six-year $30 million contract... so about that buyout...

Safe to say, while Oregon fans felt burned in the moment, the Ducks dodged a major bullet with the whole Taggart fiasco. 

Oregon Coach Cristobal's ear-catching comments about penalties and turnovers

Oregon Coach Cristobal's ear-catching comments about penalties and turnovers

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said something during his bye week media availability that caught my attention. Expectedly, the Ducks are getting a jumpstart on Cal, getting healthy and working on their running game. But unexpectedly, they are also hyper focused on limiting penalties and turnovers, both categories that the Ducks have excelled in through their first four games.

Remember when penalties plagued Oregon football in 2017? Last season, the Ducks successfully improved from the most undisciplined and heavily penalized team in the country to fourth in the Pac-12 Conference in penalty yards. Coach Cristobal corrected UO's bad habits to dramatically improve from the FBS-worst 88.31 penalty yards per game to 47.92 penalty yards in 2018.

What a turnaround. The improvement is still evident and important to Cristobal. Turnovers and penalties don’t fit in his Oregon football vision.

“The development of the football team continuing along the lines of discipline, where we continue to narrow or shorten or eliminate penalties,” Cristobal said. “We still could eliminate more.”

The Ducks lead the Pac-12 Conference with the least amount of penalties. Currently, Oregon is eighth nationally in penalty yardage, averaging 4.25 penalties and 35.5 penalty yards per game. Arizona State’s five penalties per game ranks second in the conference and 21st in the nation, while Cal’s 5.5 penalties per game ranks third in the conference and 37th in the nation.

Penalties are still plaguing Oregon’s 2017 coach Willie Taggart at Florida State. The Seminole’s 110 penalties in 2018 were the most in the nation and by an FSU team since the Seminoles committed 114 penalties in 2005. Through four games this season, FSU is averaging 7.8 penalties per game, 106th out of 130 FBS teams.

Let’s move on to Oregon’s turnovers. Quarterback Justin Herbert has not thrown an interception in 174 consecutive attempts. The Ducks as a team have two fumbles, which ranks fifth best in the nation and second best in the Pac-12. Oregon State is the only team with fewer turnovers (one interception through three games) which is the best in the nation. The Ducks’ turnover margin is 10th best in the nation, gaining eight turnovers to equal a margin of six.

“We’ve done a good job of protecting the football and not throwing the ball to the other team and it could get even better,” Cristobal said. “Those are big focuses for us.”

It is clear Cristobal’s won’t let up on the gas until the Ducks sit at the best in the nation in both categories.

Young Florida State fan uses lemonade stand to fund Willie Taggart buyout

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USA Today

Young Florida State fan uses lemonade stand to fund Willie Taggart buyout

How much are you willing to spend for a glass of lemonade? 10 cents? 25 cents? a dollar? How about a 20 spot? $20, that's what a young Florida State fan was charging people for a glass. But there was a reason for the high-priced refreshment. Four-year-old Grayton Grant opened up a pop-up stand hoping that sales of his lemonade could bring in enough cash to fund the buyout of head coach Willie Taggert. Taggart is due to make $30 million this season, while Grant pulled in just $241 dollars. He may have fallen short of his goal, but that didn't stop him from putting the money to use. 

According to a story published by the Tallahassee Democrat, Daniel Grant, Grayton's father, matched his son's total and together they sent a $482 check to Florida State marked  â€śTaggart Buy Out!” 

That's not all. Grant also wrote a letter to the university that read “I am tired of losing football games and being made fun of at school for being a Seminole fan. At four, I am already starting to gravitate towards the color orange. You don’t want that for an innocent kid like me….” 

For those of you not in tune with college football, Orange is the school color of Florida State's biggest rival, the Florida Gators. It's also the color of the pen Grant used to sign his letter. That's a deep cut. 

Of course, the letter was all tongue-in-cheek. Nothing can really come between a fan and their favorite school, and it's what makes college sports so great.

Taggart is remembered in the Northwest as the former coach of the Oregon Ducks. Taggart spent just one year at the helm before bolting for his dream job with the Seminoles. Taggart when 7-5 in his lone season with the Ducks, and is 6-9 in his time with Florida State. 

Willie Taggart hires former Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to Florida State

Willie Taggart hires former Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt to Florida State

Florida State is hiring former Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt as a defensive analyst, reuniting with former Oregon Coach Willie Taggart. Taggart has not been shy about his disappointment in the Seminoles' defense, which has given up double-digit leads in its first two games and ranks last nationally in first downs allowed (64).

Leavitt has been out of college coaching since “mutually parting ways” with Oregon after the 2018 season. As the sixth-highest paid assistant in the nation, Leavitt was earning $1.7 million annually and under contract for two more years. He is being paid $2.5 million “over multiple years” from Oregon, which will now be subject to reduction based on employment.

All Pepsi jokes aside, Leavitt helped stabilize the Ducks’ defense in 2016, helping improve Oregon's 126th ranked defense to 46th in the nation in 2018.

Leavitt stayed behind in 2018 when Taggart took the Seminoles job, hoping to land the head-coaching position at Oregon. Mario Cristobal landed the job and the two never saw eye to eye. Oregon’s 2018 defense regressed to 55th in the nation, which wasn’t the type of production that Oregon had paid $1.7 million to receive. 

Leavitt’s role at FSU is to assist Seminoles defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett to help with devising game plans. Florida State currently ranks No. 121 in scoring defense and No. 124 in total defense.

“No, I wasn’t happy with the way our defense played,” Taggart said after beating Louisiana-Monroe, 45-44 in overtime. “I don’t think anyone was happy. I don’t think our defense was happy or anyone associated with Florida State football was happy with the way our defense played. We have to play better. We have to make sure we find ways to make sure we fix the problems and make sure we put our guys in the best position to make plays.”

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman first reported Leavitt was joining FSU’s staff. Leavitt has yet to post on his ever-active Twitter page about the move.

Doug Brenner and his Rhabdomyolysis: Why he's suing Willie Taggart and the University of Oregon

Doug Brenner and his Rhabdomyolysis: Why he's suing Willie Taggart and the University of Oregon

Wednesday, former Oregon football player Doug Brenner filed a suit against the NCAA, former Oregon football coach Willie Taggart, strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde, and the University of Oregon for injuries sustained during workouts in January, 2017, shortly after Taggart was hired.

Brenner is seeking $11.5 million in damages.

"I would ask you, how much is your health and your body worth?" Brenner asked in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Northwest. "My health and my body will be impacted by this for the rest of my life. My kidneys will never be the same."

Why take legal action now? I had the opportunity to sit down with Brenner and ask him some important questions on the forefront of this lawsuit.

Brenner detailed that his health issues led him to the doctor a few months ago, when he learned the severity of his kidney damage through a nuclear renal scan. The statute of limitations in Oregon for personal injury and medical malpractice claims is two years; since the workouts ensued in January of 2017, this month is the end of his window. 

The former offensive lineman was one of three players hospitalized as a result of the workouts, each suffering from rhabdomyolysis.  This is a condition where the body “eats its own muscles,” creating toxic elements which go through the body causing damage.

Rhabdomyolysis in athletes is a preventable and potentially fatal condition.

What does rhabdomyolysis feel like? What does he remember about those drills? Was he properly hydrated?  What NCAA changes does he hope will ensue as apart of this lawsuit? And maybe the biggest question, did Taggart lack control or ignore blatant red flags?

"Oh absolutely (he lacked control)," Brenner said. "That's why I am pursuing this. I want to prevent this from happening to future players. The NCAA has guidelines in place to avoid things liek this from happening but they aren't enforcing it and every year tons of kids across the country are being hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis."

According to the 18-page suit filed in Multnomah County circuit court, the permanent damage to Brenner's kidneys reduced his life expectancy by about 10 years.  

[FROM 2017: Willie Taggart starts his tenure at UO with the wrong kind of publicity]

In the interview, Brenner illustrates the January workouts. He details that the UO medical staff acknowledged that the workout went beyond the student athletes’ natural limits after the first day and on the second day, brought in oxygen tanks on to go along with the trash cans, for vomiting, that lined the workout room.

“Oderinde not only was willing to put student athletes through nonevidence-based physical punishment regimens, but also did not carry industry required certification to be a strength and conditioning coach,” the suit claims.

It also states that Taggart told players when he was hired that he and the new coaches were going to focus on discipline in strength and conditioning and they were "going to find the snakes in the grass and cut their heads off."

[WATCH FROM 2017: Taggart and his staff off to a rough start]

Taggart brought with Oderinde to Oregon from South Florida and currently still retains him on staff at Florida State. Oderinde was suspended without pay for a month by Oregon after the players were hospitalized and Taggart issued an apology.

After hospitalization, Brenner returned to the team to play in 2017. Brenner's senior season ended after he had hip surgery in October 2017 after he played seven games for the Ducks.

"I'm a proud Duck and I loved my time playing football at Oregon," Brenner said. "It was a tough choice to do this."

Sam Poutasi, another offensive lineman, is now also suing. 

Cam McCormick, the third Duck hospitalized, has opted against suing

"I respect my teammates immensely and their very difficult decision to take that path," McCormick said. "I look forward to putting this unfortunate situation in the past, and moving ahead."

Watch the video interview above to hear from Doug Brenner in his own words. 

A Mario Cristobal exit to the Miami Hurricanes would be expensive

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USA Today

A Mario Cristobal exit to the Miami Hurricanes would be expensive

UPDATE: Later Sunday evening Miami hired Manny Diaz to be the new head coach.

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Uh oh, Oregon fans. 

DĂ©jĂ  vu, anyone? 

Today's news that former Miami coach Mark Richt has retired should strike fear into the hearts of Ducks fans in love with the direction of the program under coach Mario Cristobal, who played at Miami, was an assistant coach at Miami, was raised in Miami and whose mother resides in Miami. 

But Cristobal leaving won't be cheap. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens prepared for this day by building in a massive buyout of $10 million should Cristobal try to leave after one year. Still..

The Cristobal pull to Miami could be even greater than what convinced Willie Taggart to leave Oregon after one season to take the Florida State job a year ago this month. Taggart didn't play for Florida State and he grew up in Palmetto, Fla., which is 4 1/2 hours south of Tallahassee, where FSU is located. 

But Taggart grew up a Florida State fan and simply could not refuse the opportunity to accept his dream job. 

There has to be zero doubt that Cristobal would love to one day coach at Miami. However, it doesn't appear logical that such a marriage would go down right now. 

First of all, Miami, still a marquee program despite not having won a national title since 2001, should have a shot at a lot of high-end coaching candidates with better resumes than Cristobal's, who is 35-52 as a head coach.

The Ducks (8-4) will be playing in the Redbox Bowl on Monday against Michigan State (7-5), not in a New Year's Six bowl. This is Cristobal's first season as a head coach in a Power Five conference. He spent his first six years as a head coach at Florida International where he went 27-47 before being fired despite rebuilding what was a horrific program. 

However, the same could have been said for FSU's interest in Taggart, who went 7-5 in his lone year at Oregon after compiling a record of 40-45 at his previous two spots, Western Kentucky and South Florida. 

Still, the won-loss record for both coaches is skewed because each took on poor programs and rebuilt them. The combined record of Oregon, WKU and USF the year before Taggart took those jobs was 7-27. Cristobal took over a better situation at Oregon, obviously, but when he landed at Florida International, that train wreck was coming off of a 0-12 season. 

So, maybe Miami will view Cristobal in the same light as FSU sees Taggart. These are two young, up-and-coming coaches with an amazing ability to recruit and to lead. 

Roll the dice and see what happens. That's what FSU is doing. Maybe Miami will follow suit. 

That all said, the path to Miami for Cristobal is more difficult than it was for Taggart to Florida State because of how the latter left Oregon.

Burned by the Taggart departure, Oregon protected itself with that hefty buyout of $10 million, which Cristobal would owe UO if he left before Jan. 31, 2019.

So Miami would have to pay off that buyout and then pay Cristobal. Are the Hurricanes in a position to pay $10 million for the right to hire a coach, let alone one with Cristobal's largely unproven resume?

Cristobal's buyout decreases by $2 million for each season thereafter. So, next year it would be $8 million, then $6 million, then just $4 million after Cristobal has spent four years as Oregon's coach. 

During Cristobal's introductory press conference, I asked him flat out about the potential lure of Miami. He said then that he wanted to be at Oregon long term and finish the job of rebuilding the Ducks into a national power.

He is off to a solid start. Despite what could be considered a disappointing 8-4 season given that the Ducks have a future first-round NFL Draft pick at quarterback and played a very soft schedule, the future is bright. Most of the starters, including quarterback Justin Herbert, will return and the team just inked a recruiting class that when it's all said an done will finish in the top seven in the nation. 

Cristobal has many reasons to remain at Oregon. So did Taggart. But unlike Taggart the road back to the state of Florida could be a lot more difficult and expensive to navigate. 

 

Can you guess the most penalized team in the nation? It's not Oregon football

Can you guess the most penalized team in the nation? It's not Oregon football

Oregon’s penalty problem dramatically improved this season.

“Dramatic” might not do it justice. The Ducks cut their average penalties per game almost in half in one season under coach Mario Cristobal.

Oregon was the most penalized team in the country last season under coach Willie Taggart; averaging an atrocious 9.4 penalties for 88.3 penalty yards per game.

To begin 2018, Cristobal emphasized the cure to correcting bad habits from 2017 was a new-found sense of discipline, plus a culture of accountability and attention to detail.
It worked.

In his first year as head coach, Cristobal’s goal was lead the Pac-12 conference with the fewest penalties. He came very close to reaching that goal.

This season, the Ducks averaged 5.3 penalties per game, which ranks second in the conference for fewest penalties per game, behind Washington’s 4.9. The Ducks’ 50.7 penalty yards per game ranked fourth in the conference.

What did Cristobal do to improve discipline? The Ducks have officials at practice that join the coaching staff and players during film sessions to correct bad habits.

“You’re either teaching it or allowing it to happen,” Cristobal said. “And we allowed it (in 2017).”

From dead last in 2017, Oregon finished the 2018 season 35th among FBS teams in penalties. That’s what I call dramatic!

Can you guess what team is the most penalized in the nation this season? Taggart's Florida State Seminoles.  FSU averaged 9.2 penalties a game, a major increase from last season's 6.1 penalties per game.

REPORT: Florida's state attorney investigating racially charged social media post directed at Taggart

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USA Today

REPORT: Florida's state attorney investigating racially charged social media post directed at Taggart

The state attorney of Florida is investigating the social media post allegedly made by a since suspended Hilton Garden Vacations employee that depicts a lynching of Florida State coach Willie Taggart, according to multiple reports

The post, made on a Facebook page with the name Tom Shand, shows a photo of a person hanging from a tree with a cutout of Taggart's head photoshopped over the head of the person in the original photo. The post went up following Florida State's loss on Saturday to Florida. FSU finished the season 5-7, thus ending the program's 36-year run of bowl game appearances.

Someone responded to the post by asking if Shand was serious and he responded: "I'm dead (censored) serious. This is how far I'm willing to go to get rid of this clown!!!"

This is Taggart's first year with the Seminoles after he left Oregon following one season that produced a 7-5 record under him.

The following statement from a Hilton spokesperson appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat: "Our concern regarding this situation is a top priority," said Lauren George, a spokeswoman for Hilton Grand Vacations, based in Orlando. "The team member responsible has been suspended while further action is being considered. We want to ensure all Team Members’ behavior is consistent with our values and code of conduct."

FSU President John Thrasher stated: "I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I am glad the state attorney is investigating. Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family."

Taggart has not responded publicly to the social media post.