Report: Taggart to be named coach at Oregon
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.
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,