TAGGART DEPARTURE SHOULD BE A TEACHING MOMENT FOR OREGON – “When we sat down a year ago there was a pledge for a commitment and a vision for long term” – Rob Mullens

During the Chip Kelly regime when mistakes were made on and off the field, Kelly would consistently lament to his team ‘all mistakes should be used as teachable moments.’

For Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, Tuesday’s events surrounding the departure of Willie Taggart can certainly be viewed as one of those teachable moments.

Almost exactly a year ago to the day, Taggart stood before a room full of media, special guests, players, boosters and athletic staff in the Hatfield Dowlin Complex and swindled those in attendance into thinking he was the right man at the right time to lead the Duck football program into the future and to a national championship.

“Buckle up” Taggart shouted,…”because it’s going to be fun.”

It certainly didn’t turn out to be fun – not for Mullens and certainly not for Taggarts players and recruits.

During his introductory briefing at the HDC, Taggart stressed patience to see the job through.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” Taggart said in his introductory briefing.

“That’s our job to win. Again, I think whenever you’re taking over a program there’s four things that have to happen and four things we’ve always lived by. One is a shared vision here, with Rob (Mullens) and the rest of our administration. And with that shared vision you have to have a plan. A plan that we can use to help achieve that vision. Gotta work your tail off. You’ve got to work, you’ve got to work, you’ve got to work and most important thing is you’ve got to have the patience to see it through.”

Those remarks came on December 8, 2016.   Little did everyone know, ( including this reporter, ) that Taggart would go back on those words after just one season and depart Eugene under very distasteful circumstances.

“When we sat down a year ago there was a pledge for a commitment and a vision for long term” explained Mullens Tuesday when asked about Taggarts departure.

“It was one that we believed.  Obviously that’s not what happened so we’ll be back out there again and we’ll have those same conversations.   We might have to take a deeper assessment on how we view those conversations.”

To Mullens credit, he or anyone else for that matter, most likely didn’t see this coming.

It was the perfect storm of events coming together for a cataclysmic outcome.

Not one person in college football ever thought Jimbo Fisher would leave Florida State which ultimately opened the door for Taggart to accept his dream job.   In addition, Mullens certainly didn’t feel it was necessary at the time to insert significant contractual language to protect his investment.

What occurred however was unfortunate.

A teachable moment that Mullens will now have to use when searching for his new head coach.   Upon hiring a new man to lead the Oregon football team, it will be the third head coach in as many years.

Let that sink in for a few minutes!

Over the past two decades Oregon football has always been a model of consistency.

“We have a whole long list of criteria” said Mullens when asked about finding a coach with significant ties to the pacific northwest.

“Obviously that’s a bonus, but that’s not where you start because that narrows the pool.  We want to have a diverse pool,…a broad pool,…and we will have that.  But in the end if there’s someone with ties, you know that’s a bonus but it’s not at the top of the list.”

Mario Cristobal Named as Interim Head Coach 

With Taggart’s sudden departure to Tallahassee, Mullens had to make a quick decision to name an interim head coach to lead the Ducks into the Las Vegas Bowl on December 16th.    Mullens made the decision to name offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal to that post.

“Obviously we have an outstanding staff” said Mullens.

“The success that we’ve had on the field,…success in changing the culture,…the success we’ve seen on the recruiting trail,…we have an outstanding group of assistant coaches.  We’re fortunate to have a couple that have had some head coaching experience.  It’s just the way that it worked out from a division of responsibility stand point and Mario was the choice.”



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