Willie Taggart, one of college coaching's brightest offensive minds and a proven winner, will be introduced as Oregon's next head football coach at a press conference Thursday morning in the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
Taggart, 40, coached South Florida to a school-record 10-2 regular-season mark this fall, three years after the Bulls went 2-10. He will be the 33rd head coach in UO football history, and will have the distinction of being the football program's first African-American head coach.
"We are thrilled to welcome Willie, his wife, Taneshia, their sons, Willie Jr. and Jackson, and their daughter, Morgan," UO athletic director Rob Mullens said. "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."
Mullens will introduce Taggart at a press conference Thursday in the main theater of the HDC at 11 a.m. The event will be streamed live on Facebook and Twitter via the GoDucks accounts.
"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."
"I want to congratulate Willie Taggart on becoming the University of Oregon's next head football coach, and welcome him and his family to the flock," UO president and professor of law Michael H. Schill said. "I am confident that Coach Taggart fits with the UO's values and culture of excellence as it relates to supporting our student-athletes' personal growth and success both on and off the playing field.
"I also want to recognize athletic director Rob Mullens for his hard work and dedication over the last few weeks. He did not have an easy task, but he's delivered a wonderful outcome and hired a great coach. Welcome Coach Taggart, and go Ducks!"
A 1998 graduate of Western Kentucky, Taggart began his coaching career as an assistant with his alma mater from 1999-2006. He then spent three seasons as an assistant to Jim Harbaugh at Stanford from 2007-09, coaching running backs and helping Toby Gerhart win the 2009 Doak Walker Award.
Taggart returned to Western Kentucky as head coach in 2010, taking over a program that had lost 20 straight games and leading the Hilltoppers to their first bowl bid in 2012. Taggart then took over at South Florida and has the Bulls in their second straight bowl game this fall.
With Taggart calling plays in the "Gulf Coast Offense," South Florida finished the regular season seventh nationally in scoring offense (43.6) and fifth in yards per play (7.29). The Bulls also boast the nation's fifth-best rushing offense at 291.75 yards per game, and they have 29 explosion plays of 40 yards or more, third-most in the FBS.