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Report: Taggart to be named coach at Oregon

USF fourth-year coach Willie Taggart (left) reportedly is taking the same job at Oregon.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF fourth-year coach Willie Taggart (left) reportedly is taking the same job at Oregon.

7

December

USF coach Willie Taggart will be named coach at Oregon, ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported earlier this morning.

Neither Taggart nor Bulls athletic director Mark Harlan immediately responded to a text message, and current players haven't been formally informed of Taggart's departure.

RELATED: Next Bull up? Possible Taggart replacements

A team meeting at USF is set for 1:30 p.m. The news comes four years to the day after word broke that Taggart -- then Western Kentucky coach -- would be hired to replace Skip Holtz at USF.

Taggart replaces Mark Helfrich, dismissed after finishing 4-8 this past season. Helfrich led the Ducks -- and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota -- to the College Football Playoff national title game only two years ago.

"If it is true, just want to say thank you for everything @CoachTaggart," backup QB Brett Kean said via Twitter. "Really hope USF keeps some of these coaches around."

Widely deemed a can't-miss prospect for a Power Five coaching job the last two seasons, Taggart, a 40-year-old married father of three, has won 17 of his last 21 after a 7-21 start at USF.

He was completing the first of a five-year, $9 million deal with USF, which he signed last December. Terms of the contract call for him to pay USF a $1.7 million buyout, which the Bulls could use to pay off Holtz (owed $500,000 a year through Dec. 31, 2017) and ex-men's basketball coach Stan Heath (owed $375,000 annually through April 2018).

Taggart's stock continued soaring this fall as USF finished 10-2 after going 2-10 only three seasons before, in Taggart's first year. The 2016 Bulls have set a program single-season record for victories, cracked the Associated Press' top 25, and eclipsed numerous team and individual offensive records.

He now has taken two previously woeful programs -- WKU and USF -- and transformed both into bowl-eligible teams. A former record-setting WKU quarterback, Taggart's first Hilltoppers team was 2-10 (in 2010) but won seven games each of the next two years.

He'll head to Oregon, where he'll replace Mark Helfrich, with a career coaching record of 40-46.

Speculation will fly over the list of potential Taggart replacements. Among the more reasonable names likely to surface: former Texas/Louisville coach Charlie Strong, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal and former Bucs coach Greg Schiano,

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 11:00am]

    

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