December 6, 2017
Oregon linebacker Troy Dye called Willie Taggart a liar as one of multiple Ducks players to call out their former coach on social media Wednesday.
Dye, safety Nick Pickett and cornerback Deommodore Lenoir called Taggart out after he said he was honest with players and Oregon officials at his introductory press conference at Florida State:
Taggart, 41, was officially announced as the next Seminoles coach Wednesday after one season at Oregon. He takes over for Jimbo Fisher, who left for Texas A&M last month after receiving a record-setting 10-year offer.
“Things were going really well there in every aspect,” Taggart told reporters. “The people you meet, the relationships you built, it’s always tough when you have to end that. Just think about it: Being able to meet Phil Knight, he’s an icon. I was in awe when I had a chance to meet him. Rob Mullens, who I thought was an awesome AD, for him to give me my first opportunity to coach in the Power Five, you feel bad because you feel like you let him down, and I know I did. I told him I’m sorry. I apologize. The timing is probably not right, but it’s never right when it’s time to leave. Talking with my son made me realize a lot.
“I wasn’t going to leave it just for anything. To be closer to your family and still be a coach in the Power Five, still have an opportunity to win a national championship, it was tough to overcome.”
The Ducks went 7-5 in Taggart’s lone season in Eugene, an improvement of three wins over their down 2016 campaign. While Oregon is seen as a destination job to some, Taggart is a Florida native who built his coaching reputation during a four-year run at South Florida. He has strong recruiting ties to the area, which made him a natural fit to succeed Fisher.
This all speaks to the unfair nature of college athletics, whereby players are forced to forfeit a year of their eligibility should they choose to transfer, while coaches are free to drop players on a whim for a better opportunity. It’s hard to blame Taggart for wanting to be upwardly mobile in his career. Florida State is a dream job for any coach, especially one who hails from the Florida area.
But the criticism from players highlights the continued dichotomy. Coaches have freedom to find better situations, but players aren’t afforded the same luxury. So it’s equally fair for guys like Taggart to take criticism from the players he’s leaving behind.
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