Oregon offered coach Willie Taggart a new deal last weekend with the hope that he’ll stay in Eugene even if a coveted job in his home state opens this weekend, SI.com has learned. If Taggart accepts, the new deal would pay a little more than $20 million over five years. But Taggart has reason to wait. If Jimbo Fisher leaves Florida State for Texas A&M, Taggart could be a candidate for the Seminoles’ job.
Taggart, who grew up in Bradenton, Fla., and coached at South Florida before getting hired by Oregon, is currently 7–5 in his first season with the Ducks. He has a career record of 47–50, but his previous two jobs at Western Kentucky and South Florida were considered reclamation projects. In Taggart’s four seasons at USF, the Bulls’ record improved every season. They were 10–2 when he was hired by Oregon last December to turn around a team that finished 4–8. The Ducks improved their win total under Taggart, but the improvement might have been more dramatic if not for a broken collarbone suffered by quarterback Justin Herbert that kept the sophomore out of five games. Oregon was 1–4 in those games.
Taggart is known as an excellent recruiter of Florida players. Also on his staff is former Miami and Alabama assistant (and former Florida International head coach) Mario Cristobal. The idea of those two in Tallahassee is intriguing to Florida State officials and reason for concern for other coaches in the state. Fisher’s Seminoles have recruited the state better than anyone this decade, and should Fisher leave, maintaining that advantage—especially with Miami’s improvement under Mark Richt and with Dan Mullen poised to run a much better recruiting operation than predecessor Jim McElwain at Florida—will be a paramount concern.
Taggart’s Oregon buyout is $3 million, but Taggart would also owe USF an additional $1.5 million to fulfill his buyout to take the Oregon job. The ball is now in Taggart’s court, but don’t be surprised if there is no decision until after Fisher makes his decision.