Free Willie (Day 6)
Good morning everyone! It’s Day 6 of the Anion Sports 25 Days of Christmas blog. The one thing I’ve really been able to find out over the course of this almost week long writing binge is that the sports world never sleeps. Just when you think, “Darn, I’m really going to have to dig for a topic today,” one shows up right at your doorstep. And today is no different. While not a total shock, Oregon head coach Willie Taggart left to accept the vacant job at Florida State University. My immediate reaction was like I had been punched in the gut. As an Oregon Duck fan, it felt like most of the positives from another down year had just walked out the door. Already faced with a tougher recruiting schedule because of the timing of the bowl game this year, Oregon had done a lot to keep Taggart from bolting after one season in Eugene. Even a new contract extension, a testament to the desperation to keep some semblance of consistency at an institution that has seemingly begun to lose it with each passing season, failed. Usually where there is smoke, there is fire. And the fact that coach wasn’t flat out denying the rumors coupled with the fact that recruits were cautious he was leaving didn’t bode well for his prospects of staying. For couple years, I’ve been able to deal with the pain that comes with being a Duck fan during down years. All the excuses and jokes about why Oregon isn’t made for “real” college football, were amplified. But I was able to say, “Our QB1 was hurt” and that “We have a top 10 recruiting class hahahaha!” The team still gets Justin Herbert back, but that class is sure to drop. Within a matter of days the landscape of the collegiate coaching world changed so abruptly. After all who would’ve known Chip Kelly would come back to the conference (although not where he needed to be apparently). But that’s the world college football fans live in. At the end of the year, I did not see Jimbo Fisher leaving and Texas A&M got him to leave for greener pastures. This just felt like business. Mr. Taggart was special in his lone season at the school, but it’s like Oregon was just a means to an ends. Okay, deep breath. That’s what I told myself after I sat and thought over what had happened to my program. They are going to be fine. Phil Knight gives them too much cool stuff to wear on game days! But seriously, I had to take the time to look at it from the other perspective. Willie pounced on his golden opportunity. He’s from Florida. This job hasn’t been available since 1976, and they currently don’t suck talent wise. I think it’s a no brainer for him. I’m not at all mad at him. Like I said it still feels like a gut punch, but I get it. Dream job scenario here. If you can afford to, you probably should take it. One of the oldest sayings I can remember hearing in regards to football is applicable here. “Next man up.” Feeling sorry for the loss of a coach who I think is a really great person and leader of men won’t do any good. No amount of sulking will bring him back. The team just has to prepare for their bowl game and the offseason as best as they can and prepare to try to get some of the shine back. Willie Taggart or not. For a program stuck in what seems like CFB purgatory right now, it sucks. But brighter days are ahead and as fans we can build some good karma by being happy for Mr. Taggert. If he is happy, then he made the right decision. And I just want to thank him for his one year he was in Eugene.