UO's Taggart hasn’t heard from Florida
EUGENE — Willie Taggart has a lot to chomp on this week.
Oregon’s first-year coach said the to-do list doesn’t include considering an opportunity to leave for Florida.
Taggart’s name has already been thrown out as a possible candidate to replace Jim McElwain, who is out at Florida after compiling a 22-12 record with the Gators.
Darren Heitner, a Florida attorney and sports agent with ties to the school, reported Monday that Taggart was “now a real possibility” for the Gators and had been contacted about the job.
“I have not been contacted by anyone,” Taggart said Monday. “The only A.D. I have been contacted by is Rob Mullens, and I love that guy.”
Mullens fired Mark Helfrich after last year’s 4-8 finish and hired Taggart away from South Florida on Dec. 7, 2016.
According to the terms of Taggart’s five-year contract with Oregon, he must provide Mullens with written or verbal notice prior to meeting with representatives from another entity to discuss employment opportunities.
If Taggart did decide to terminate his Oregon contract, he must notify Mullens of the decision in writing. This action cannot be taken during the football season, unless both parties mutually agree otherwise.
The Ducks (5-4, 2-4), coming off an impressive 41-20 win over Utah, play at No. 12 Washington on Saturday at Husky Stadium (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1).
“I am committed to the University of Oregon and focused on Washington, a big-time game for us this week,” Taggart said. “I asked our players and coaches to be focused and committed to that, and that’s what I’m committed to as well.”
Taggart or Florida would have to pay Oregon a $3 million buyout if he were to leave before Jan. 31, 2018, plus repay the bulk of the $1.7 million that was paid to buy out his South Florida deal.
The Gators are reportedly negotiating McElwain’s $12.5 million buyout.
Taggart, a Florida native, has a 45-49 career coaching record after rebuilding Western Kentucky and South Florida from the ground up.
The Ducks were 4-1 before starting quarterback Justin Herbert suffered a fractured collarbone Sept. 30, and the program’s 2018 recruiting class is on track to be the highest ranked in Oregon history.
“Our guys know they can ask me anything, and I’m always honest and real with our guys,” Taggart said. “If they ask me about, it I’ll tell them the truth. But other than that I’m the same guy I’ve been every other week. Come in, try to put a plan together and go out and execute it. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We have a big-time game this week with the University of Washington that we need all of our focus locked into that and not anything else that’s going to distract us from that.
“We support no cause, foreign or domestic, other than winning the week.”