Willie Taggart is in the rear-view mirror for Duck fans, players and recruits alike. He might show up from time-to-time as the Ducks recruit nationally, but for the most part, a piece of short-term memory best forgotten.
But yesterday, players and prospects expressed themselves in the aftermath.
Wednesday backlash: Ugliness
Everybody had by Wednesday slept on it and had given the situation time to sink in. That did not spare the Ducks’ former coach from the wrath of his former players. One of the top leaders on the Oregon defense did not mince words.
“He lied straight to my dad’s face in my living room Thursday night,” sophomore LB Troy Dye wrote on social media. “He didn't keep his word to me Monday. Lost all my respect.”
We chronicled numerous other responses.
Recruits and players: Ducks ride together
The grieving process was quite short for all parties. The larger theme that emerged throughout the afternoon was acceptance of the situation. By that time four of the Ducks’ 26 prospects had decommitted, something that every program with a coaching change goes through.
The remaining members of the class, #theMovement18, went to work trying to keep things together.
“We truly have something special here in Eugene and we all must try our best to stay together,” wrote OL commit Chris Randazzo.
This sentiment was echoed by numerous members of Oregon’s class of 2018.
Oregon’s QB commit Tyler Shough implored the Athletic Director to try to retain the coaches.
“Mr. Mullens, keeping @coacharroyoTheO , @coach_cristobal , @CoachJimLeavitt and countless others will play a huge factor for some of our commits and #TheMovement18 lives on... Me personally, and some these great coaches are also committed to the University and us as players.”
Time will tell the true damage Taggart has caused this recruiting cycle. Frankly, four recruits in the immediate aftermath is not bad. Currently, Chip Kelly down in UCLA is dealing with ten, Willie Taggart nine at Florida State, and Jimbo Fisher eight at TAMU.
Oregon senior OL Doug Brenner gave his veteran advice.
“To our recruits: When I was being recruited and Chip left I had doubts but my gut told me to go to Oregon. It was the best decision I have ever made. Sometimes it pays off to weather the storm. Regardless of coaching changes this team is doing big things next season. Go Ducks!”
Cristobal and Leavitt: Players’ choice
Everybody who has an internet connection and a stake in the Oregon coaching search seem to be saying the same thing; they want to keep the Duck coordinators. For OC Mario Cristobal it went viral and started a new thing: #CristobALLIN
I tried to trace this back and I believe it was the R-G’s Steve Mims (my road game buffet line partner) who first used it here at Oregon. It did appear five years ago a few times while MC was at Florida International.
But it wasn’t just the current players and recruits that had something to say. Former Ducks and parents of Ducks voiced their thoughts as well.
Here is a sampling of other web feedback:
Had a great conversation with coach Cristobal today, there’s a reason he is interim HC. In Cristobal I trust. I️ wish Willie the best of luck but it’s all those position coaches in the trenches that’s making Oregon special. PLEASE STAY guys! @coach_cristobal @dawsonjaramillo— bradley jaramillo (@Rissen13) December 7, 2017
For those of you who have been through coaching searches before, the interim HC and/or members of the existing staff are most often rallied around. This does not seem to influence AD’s and their searches very often. Obviously with recruits/player sentiments seeming strong, this will be a factor in this search.
Duck fans weigh in
The most knowledgeable of Oregon fans seem to agree. Our DSA poll of members has the two coordinators way out top in the list of top choices.
1. Cristobal 42%
2. Leavitt 32%
3. Sumlin 11%
4. Kiffin 6%
5. Wilcox 5%
One of the questions I have been getting from radio hosts these last two days are variations on “how soon will they make a pick?” or “do you think this will be over this week?”
Very good question because the natural inclination is to approach this with extreme urgency. First, Rob Mullens made clear that it will not be a rush job. They are going to go through the process and see where it leads.
And believe it or not, they actually have some time to do this right. Yes, the bowl game is nine days away. Yes, early signing day is two weeks away.
But the current coaches will be on the job. And there is time to make some deals with them.