For the first time in 40 years, Oregon went outside the Eugene city limits to find their new head coach.
In 1977 Oregon hired UCLA linebackers and special teams coach Rich Brooks — a controversial decision given he had played and coached at Oregon State — to replace Don Read as head coach. That was the last time the Ducks didn't make an in-house hire for their head coaching vacancy.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bellotti took over for Brooks in 1995; offensive coordinator Chip Kelly took over for Bellotti in 2009; and Mark Helfrich took over the Kelly in 2013. Following Helfrich's dismissal last November, Oregon opted to finally go outside Eugene — like way, way, way outside Eugene.
They found Willie Taggart at South Florida, more than 3,000 miles away. Taggart was the most unlikely of geographical fits for the Ducks. He was not only coaching at USF, he is from Bradenton, Fla., and has spent all but three years of his life in either Florida or Kentucky.
“It was a tough decision,” Taggart said. “I think it was more tough because of the players and the relationship that I built with them, not necessarily because of leaving home. I always had a goal and dream of having an opportunity to win a national championship. We’ve worked really hard to get into that position and then this opportunity came.”
He is one of three Pac-12 head coaches who hail from Florida. There are now zero in the AAC. In fact, the Pac-12 is home to all three Florida head coaches in the FBS. California (five) and Florida account for eight of the conference's 12 coaches.
Because of Taggart and three other coaches who are more than 1,700 miles from their hometowns, the Pac-12 average distance between current job and hometown is 1,193 miles. The median distance is 810 miles. Both are much farther than the Big Ten and Big 12.
Interestingly, three of the four Pac-12 coaches born in Pac-12 cities do not currently coach in that city. UCLA's Jim Mora, a Los Angeles native, is the only one coaching in his birth city. Behind Mora for shortest distance are David Shaw (478 miles), Justin Wilcox (520) and Mike Leach (687).
|Arizona State||Todd Graham||Mesquite||TX||963|
|Oregon State||Gary Andersen||Salt Lake City||UT||781|
|Stanford||David Shaw||San Diego||CA||478|
|UCLA||Jim Mora||Los Angeles||CA||0|
|Utah||Kyle Whittingham||San Luis Obispo||CA||840|
|Washington||Chris Petersen||Yuba City||CA||707|
|Washington State||Mike Leach||Susanville||CA||687|