Taggart will replace Mark Helfrich, who was fired last week after a 4-8 season, Oregon’s worst record since 1991. Helfrich won 37 games in his four seasons in Eugene and took the Ducks to the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game just two seasons ago.
A proponent of ground-based spread offenses who previously helped develop Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart as Stanford’s running backs coach under Jim Harbaugh, Taggart installed a rushing offense that ranked fifth nationally this year (291.75 yards per game). Only one team in the country — New Mexico — averaged more yards per carry than the Bulls’ 6.71; the Lobos and Navy were the only teams to rush for more touchdowns. Only Oklahoma and Western Kentucky had more plays of 40-plus yards from scrimmage.
Taggart not only coached under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, he also played for and was an assistant to Harbaugh’s father, Jack, at Western Kentucky.
Oregon will hire from outside its current coaching staff for the first time since 1976. According to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, the school first made an offer to Temple’s Matt Rhule only to have him take the Baylor job instead, with the thinking that the Bears will actually be an easier program to rebuild than Oregon, despite that program’s Nike-enhanced riches. Boise State Coach Bryan Harsin also reportedly was interviewed.
There also was talk that former Oregon coach Chip Kelly could return to the Ducks after giving the NFL a shot, but he reportedly has no interest in returning to college football.