In just a few hours this morning, USF went from preparing for a bowl game to prepping for a head coaching search after ESPN's Brent McMurphy reported that head football coach Willie Taggart was taking the same position at Oregon.
Taggart had been gaining much attention for a Power 5 gig after winning 17 of his last 21 games after a 7-21 start.
According to multiple reports, the team has not been formally informed of Taggart’s departure, though a team meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. There has been no official word from USF as of now.
Multiple players have taken to twitter to voice their support for their former coach though some, like Bulls’ receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, understand that it’s just a business.
“College football is more business than football,” Valdes-Scantling tweeted. “Treat it like it is everyday. Get it while you can.
“That’s all he did.”
Others, like senior safety Nate Godwin, can't thank their former coach enough for the years he put in turning around USF.
"The last 4 years coach (Taggart) has taught me so much," Godwin tweeted. "He brought USF back to the top. I can't do nothing but respect him. Wish him the best."
Taggart replaces Mark Helfrich at Oregon after Helfrich finished 4-8 this season, just two years removed from a Heisman Trophy winner and a College Football Championship appearance.
Taggart is rounding out the first year of a 5-year, $9-million contract extension signed last year. The contract includes a $1.7 million buyout for Taggart.
The Power 5 hype train began last season with Taggart interviewing for the South Carolina job and after a 10-2 season that saw USF earning a ranking in the AP Poll for the first time since 2011.
He also had a trio of support from Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh along with National Collegiate Athletic Association executive Oliver Luck, who all openly supported Taggart for the Oregon job.
Taggart is the third AAC coach to be plucked from the conference in the past three weeks — Houston’s Tom Herman left for Texas, Temple’s Matt Rhule to Baylor and now Taggart.
USF will now look to snatch one of the remaining coaching candidates. The most widely reported candidates to replace Taggart are Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who has ties to the Bay area; former Texas coach Charlie Strong and former Bucs head coach and current Ohio State OC Greg Schiano.
It has not been decided who will coach the Bulls in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29.