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University of Oregon hires Willie Taggart from South Florida as head football coach

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2015, file photo, South Florida head coach Willie Taggart looks on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati, in Tampa, Fla. South Florida football coach Willie Taggart has informed the school that he is leaving to become the coach at Oregon, a person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither school was prepared to make an official announcement. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

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EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Oregon announced Wednesday morning it plans to hire Willie Taggart, the former South Florida head coach, as Mark Helfrich’s replacement.

Taggart will be introduced as Oregon’s next head football coach at a press conference Thursday morning in the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, the university said.

Taggart turned the South Florida Bulls’ record around after he took over the coaching position. This year, the team finished with a 10-2 regular-season record. Just three years ago, the Bulls finished with a 2-10 record.

Taggart will be the 33rd head coach in Ducks football history. He will also be the football program’s first African American head coach.

“We are thrilled to welcome Willie, his wife, Taneshia, their sons, Willie Jr. and Jackson, and their daughter, Morgan,” UO athletic director Rob Mullens said. “Willie places an emphasis on ensuring a positive student-athlete experience and on winning, and his previous stops have proven his success at both. We have a very bright future under his leadership.”

Taggart said he looks forward to coaching one of the nation’s most elite teams and the challenge of upholding excellence.

"I am grateful for the trust that President Schill and Rob Mullens have put in me to be the next head coach of the Oregon football program, and I thank them for the opportunity,” Taggart said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

University of Oregon President Michael Schill welcomed Taggart and his family to the “flock.”

“I am confident that Coach Taggart fits with the UO's values and culture of excellence as it relates to supporting our student-athletes' personal growth and success both on and off the playing field,” Schill said.

Taggart began his coaching career in 1999 as an assistant coach for his alma mater, Western Kentucky. He worked with the team until 2006.

Then, he spent three seasons as an assistant to Jim Harbough at Stanford from 2007 to 2009.

Taggart returned to Western Kentucky as head coach in 2010 and took the team that had lost 20 straight games to their first bowl bid in 2012.

Taggart then took over at South Florida and will take the Bulls to their second straight bowl game this fall.

Helfrich was released from the Ducks head coach position Tuesday, November 29, 2016.

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