Willie Targgart, the new head coach of the Ducks, is very optimistic about being the first Black coach ever to win a national title.
EUGENE, Ore. — New Oregon coach Willie Taggart on Thursday said the Ducks are at a place where they can win a national championship, according to ESPN.
“The unique and innovative qualities that the Oregon brand poses over the national landscape provide us with the opportunity to be successful at the highest level on a consistent basis,” Taggart said at his introductory news conference Thursday.
Black coach, Taggart, 40, comes to Oregon via South Florida, where he went 24-25 as a head coach but led the Bulls to a 10-2 record in 2016. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Western Kentucky, his alma mater, going 16-20.
“Buckle up, because it’s going to be fun,” Taggart said. “We going to get after it. We’re going to recruit the best of the best — and you should here at the University of Oregon. We don’t have to settle for anything. I look at our football program, and the University of Oregon is a national brand. And we’re going to go over the entire country to find the best of the best.”
He replaces Mark Helfrich, who was fired Nov. 29 after going 37-16 in his four seasons as a head coach.
“A little over a week ago, we set out to find a new leader, a new educator and a new coach to usher Oregon football into a new era,” athletic director Rob Mullen said. “We sought someone who shared our values, someone who had a track record of success, someone who genuinely cared about our student athletes, yet pushed them well beyond their potential. We found him. Willie Taggart is all of that and more.”
New UO HC Willie Taggart says chance to win a national title is what Oregon offers. pic.twitter.com/x3sFVWUz7S
— Jonathan Hawthorne (@Jon_Hawthorne) December 8, 2016
Taggart has coached in the Pac-12 before. He spent the 2007-09 seasons coaching the running backs under then-head coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, where he tutored Doak Walker Award winner Toby Gerhart.
The new Black coach, Taggart said he will require that every member of the staff and team attacks each day with an “enthusiasm unknown to mankind,” a saying that Harbaugh made popular last year.
Willie Taggart’s emergence as a likely candidate for the Oregon job as a Black coach in a sport, where 56 percent of the athletes in college football are black, says multiple things because of Taggart’s pedigree and it could be a key to the increase of coaching opportunities for black head coaches in major college football, Thy Black Man reports.
Following the 2016 college football regular season, there were 17 major college football openings available. Nine of those openings have been filled with including Willie Taggart at Oregon. Of those nine coaching hires, six could be categorized as head coaches with more an offensive coaching background than defensive. Athletic directors, fans, and the media often gravitate towards teams and coaches with high-powered offenses than devastating defenses.
— Oregon Football (@WinTheDay) December 7, 2016
Also, Taggart was a former college quarterback who received the endorsements of highly successful coaches like Tony Dungy and Jim Harbaugh. As more Black men get opportunities to play quarterback in college and the NFL, there will be more opportunities for more black head coaches to emerge as decision makers like athletic directors and college presidents will always look to make an exciting hire by finding the next offensive “mastermind”. There will be even more black offensive minds coming down the coaching pike.
Taggart is the second coach from the American Athletic Conference to be hired for a Power Five job in the last two days, reported by Yahoo Sports.Tuesday, Baylor said it had hired Temple coach Matt Rhule as its new head coach. Temple tied with USF atop the East Division in the conference with a 7-1 record and won the AAC title game over Navy.
Had the pleasure of meeting Oregons new head coach! Coach Willie Taggart 💯 pic.twitter.com/htRGKO0hDR
— Tua Tagovailoa (@Tuaamann_) December 9, 2016
South Florida co-offensive coordinator T.J. Weist will be the team’s interim coach for the Birmingham Bowl.
“We will work quickly, but with careful thought and discussion to find our next football coach,” USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “We have the outstanding support of our community, and are confident that we’ll soon find the best and most qualified coach to lead our Football program. I want to thank Willie Taggart for the leadership, energy, and excitement he brought to our program over the last four years. The achievements of our football program both on and off the field speak for themselves. We wish Willie and his family the very best.”
The incredible ability of Black people to be successful in sport is not a secret to anyone but as any other tradition it needs to be continued; the skill must be passed to a new generation and in this regard, people like Willie Taggart are the hope for the nation. Their commitment to the work they do, their patience and their dignity deserve the highest respect.