EUGENE — On a day when his team found out they are headed to the Las Vegas Bowl, Willie Taggart’s press conference inevitably drifted to the big story: Will he be coaching Oregon in the bowl game?
As he did last week, Taggart answered the question with a question, “Why wouldn’t I?”
Taggart has been rumored to be Florida State’s top choice to replace coach Jimbo Fisher, who left the Seminoles to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M.
Taggart, who has strong Florida ties, has said multiple times that he’s happy in Eugene, but he has not gone as far as to say that he will coach the program in the Vegas Bowl, or beyond.
“Nothing has changed,” Taggart said.
During his press conferences, Taggart is usually upbeat, and while he did show some signs of that on Sunday, he was a little off. He looked like a man who is conflicted.
I’ll take him at his word that he is happy with the Ducks — I don’t think he would lie. But it’s hard to deny that Florida State seems like a dream job for Taggart, who is from Bradenton, Florida.
The situation appears to be weighing heavily on his mind, and while he understands why he’s being asked about his future with the Ducks, he does seem frustrated by the repeated questions.
“I can’t control what anyone else thinks,” Taggart said. “I can’t give you something I don’t have.”
With his recruiting success at Oregon, plus the 7-5 record this season despite missing starting quarterback Justin Herbert for five games, Taggart is a hot commodity in the national college football scene right now.
On a personal level, it would seem like a perfect time for him to cash in and take his dream job at Florida State.
It’s better for everybody involved if this situation is resolved quickly. The uncertainty surrounding Taggart has already taken a toll on recruiting, with the Ducks losing a verbal commitment from four-star athlete Tre’Shaun Harrison, from Seattle, over the weekend.
Could other recruits follow his departure?
And what about bowl preparations?
Oregon faces No. 25 Boise State at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 16 in the Vegas Bowl, and with academic finals this week, the window for practice is tight.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team to go to Vegas. Our guys are fired up about it,” Taggart said. “They’ll be studying and getting ready for finals. Our guys will be around, and if they don’t have anything going, they can come watch film. It’s going to be tough to get all 15 practices in.”
Complicating things even more is the early college football signing period, from Dec. 20-22, which is new this year.
The chance to go on recruiting trips ahead of the early signing period was significantly cut Sunday with the announcement of the early bowl game.
“We warned our (recruits) that weekend can change if we got to the Vegas Bowl. It’s not ideal for us,” Taggart said. “It’s not a surprise to our recruits. We’ve just got to change some things around.”
There is a lot going on, and the Oregon players and fans need to know if their coach is with them. It’s time for a decision.
Las Vegas Bowl matchup
Boise State (10-3, Mountain West) vs Oregon (7-5, Pac-12)
- DATE: Dec. 16, 3:30 p.m. EST
- LOCATION: Las Vegas
- Boise State: QB Brett Rypien, 2,515 yards passing, 14 TDs
- Oregon: RB Royce Freeman, 1,475 yards rushing, 16 TDs
- Boise State: The Broncos avenged a loss to Fresno State the week before by beating the Bulldogs 17-14 in the Mountain West title game.
- Oregon: The Ducks finished the season on a two-game winning streak, thrashing Arizona and rival Oregon State to reach seven victories in coach Willie Taggart's first season.
- Boise State 19, Oregon 14. (Sept. 3, 2009)
- Boise State: Sixteenth consecutive bowl appearance, tied for sixth-best in the nation with Wisconsin.
- Oregon: Twelfth bowl appearance in the last 13 years, third appearance in Las Vegas Bowl.
- Florida State reportedly interested in Ducks coach Taggart
- Report: Oregon offers Taggart new contract amid Florida State rumors
The Associated Press contributed to this article.