Oregon hires Willie Taggart as head coach

Oregon has hired South Florida’s Willie Taggart as head coach.
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South Florida coach Willie Taggart has been named the new head football coach at Oregon, the school announced.

Taggart replaces Mark Helfrich, who was fired last month after four seasons. The new coach agreed to a five-year deal that will pay him an average of $3.2 million per year, according to SI's Pete Thamel.

“We are thrilled to welcome Willie, his wife, Taneshia, their sons, Willie Jr. and Jackson, and their daughter, Morgan," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. "Willie places an emphasis on ensuring a positive student-athlete experience and on winning, and his previous stops have proven his success at both. We have a very bright future under his leadership.”

Helfrich won 11, 13 and nine games in his first three seasons with Oregon, and led the Ducks to a berth in the first College Football Playoff championship. However, the team stumbled to a 4–8 record this year, the school's worst record since 1991.

“I am grateful for the trust that President Schill and Rob Mullens have put in me to be the next head coach of the Oregon football program, and I thank them for the opportunity," Taggart said. "Oregon has a strong national presence and a proud recent history of playing among the nation's elite, and I look forward to the challenge of upholding the excellence. I can't wait to get started.”

Taggart, 40, spent the last four seasons as South Florida's head coach, compiling a 24–25 record. After going 6–18 in his first two seasons, the Bulls won 18 games the last two years. The Bulls won 10 games in 2016, the best mark in school history.

Taggart also spent three seasons as Western Kentucky's head coach. He began his coaching career at WKU as their wide receivers coach in 1999 after completing his football career at the school, and also was an assistant at Stanford from 2007-09.