Willie Taggart will be driving his weird bus to Eugene. Oregon will name the 40-year-old its next head football coach.
Taggart has perhaps the deepest connection to the Harbaugh family of anyone not named “Harbaugh.” He was a quarterback and assistant coach under Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky. He was also an assistant under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. The latter was the best man at his wedding.
He started his head coaching career at Western Kentucky. Over two seasons in 2011-12, he ran off a 12-2 stretch where the only losses were to Alabama and LSU. Taggart got off to a rough start at South Florida but has gone 13-3 in the AAC the past two years and 17-4 overall since a 1-3 start in 2015.
Taggart fits Oregon’s emphasis on offense. His South Florida team ran a hybrid offense mixing up-tempo spread concepts with his Harbaugh rearing. The Bulls ranked fifth nationally in yards/play in 2016 and third in scrimmage plays of 40 yards or longer (29).
He has the recruiting acumen Oregon needs. Taggart brought in strong classes at South Florida and Western Kentucky. He also recruited California and the Southeast when he was at Stanford.
Taggart has experience building from the foundation up, which he’ll have to do in Eugene. He checks a lot of the P.J. Fleck boxes, but brings a bit more practical experience.
South Florida, left well-stocked, will be an intriguing proposition for Charlie Strong among others.