My friends … this is another example of the new Coach’s Opinion articles I will be running on this site. See if two of the keys below are not ones you would have guessed! Again this is the benefit of learning from a coach. I would get in the habit of asking questions as to “why” in the comments below the article. Enjoy! Charles Fischer
As the Oregon Ducks embark on a new era with Coach Willie Taggart, it’s apparent that his experience, leadership, the ability to motivate players, and rapport with those around him will give the Ducks a great chance to return to National Championship glory. Below, I will define keys to winning a national championship, and explain why Coach Taggart is a great fit for Oregon Football.
Leadership and Experience
Coach Taggart started his career at Florida powerhouse Manatee High School as a starting quarterback. He led them to the 5A state championship title in his junior year. In his senior year, MHS got to the state championship game again, and Taggart earned all-state honors. During that two-year span, the school posted a 26-4 record. Taggart passed for over 3,000 yards, and gained 975 rushing yards as well.
In 1995, he took his talents to Western Kentucky University where he was a four-year starter at quarterback — one of only three in the past 50 years at the university.to start for all four years of his tenure. During his last two years as a Hilltopper, he was a Walter Payton Award finalist. In his senior year, he was named both an All-American and the 1-AA Independent Universities’ Offensive Player of the Year.
After graduating in 1998, Taggart took his talents directly into coaching, starting with the Hilltoppers as their quarterback coach under Jack Harbaugh. He earned a promotion to co-offensive coordinator after one year. He remained there until Jim Harbaugh hired him as the running backs coach at Stanford University.
Taggart remained with Stanford until 2010, when he returned to the Hilltoppers as their head coach. In the previous season the Hilltoppers had posted an 0-12 record. He took the program to a 7-5 record in two seasons, posting another 7-5 record the following season, in 2012,
He then moved to the University of South Florida, with similar results, building the program from a 2-10 in 2012, to 10-2 and a 19th-place ranking in the FBS polls in 2016.
Clearly, Coach Taggart knows how to build a winning program.
Five Keys to Success
A lot of factors contribute to success in college football, but none so much as the people involved, from administrators to coaches to support staff to players. Not only do they all have to be good at what they do, they all have to have a shared vision of what they intend to accomplish. That shared vision is what defines a championship team, from the beginning of spring practice to the championship game. Here are five keys that have to be a part of that vision.
The first key to success is administrative support. This support can be expensive in the FBS, as revenue drives the budget, and so the decisions universities across the nation can make. Another important part of gaining administrative support is a head coach who has a keen ability to promote a program, getting the administration excited about the direction the program is taking. School administration must have same passion as the coaching staff to develop a championship program.
I have been a fan of athletic director Rob Mullens since he was the deputy athletic director at the University of Kentucky. During his tenure at the Bluegrass, Kentucky’s operating budget increased by 70 percent. Mullens has always made clear that his staff and coaches are as important to the program as his student-athletes. This is clearly an administration that will go above and beyond the $103 million athletic budget to ensure that each program has the greatest possible success. Mullens’s partnership with the team will, as Taggart puts it, “bring the swagger back to Oregon Football.”
The most important part of recruiting is the ability to establish a strong rapport with future players. Taggart has what it takes to convince future Ducks of the great experience they will have when they become student-athletes in Eugene. He has successfully recruited in his past stops, gaining a nationwide network of contacts along the way. He will be able to continue his recruiting success at Oregon.
When the Oregon coaching staff first step on the field for the 2017-2018 NCAA football season, there will be a ton of experience leading the team. Altogether, the staff has approximately 141 years of coaching experience between them, everywhere from high school, CFL, Arena Football League, World Football League and the NFL as well as college football. That level of experience is nice to have in the quest of returning to the national spotlight.
Film study is one of the most important facets of the game, and often one of the most neglected. There are many elements to film study, or what coaches call “breaking down film.” Understanding tendencies of the opponent in the three facets of the game — offense, defense and special teams — is the first place to start when breaking down film. Coaches must spend hours upon hours studying film to ensure that they are prepared for their opponents.
Not only do the coaches have to watch film, but the players do, too, and coaches normally have to teach them how to do it. Players coming into college are typically in the habit of watching the football instead of studying their position, due to a lack of training in high school. If an offensive lineman is always following the football, then he is not studying his assignment.
The programs that get the most out of film study are the programs that have an edge when a game is on the line, because they have a better understanding of their opponents.
There are many types of weight programs. Some work better than others for football, and a team’s weight program must translate into success on the field. A team that runs out of steam in the fourth quarter is a team that needs to make changes to its weight program.
Coach Taggart has compiled a fantastic strength crew to lead the charge for the 2017-2018 Ducks season. Head strength coach Irele Oderinde has many years of experience, including several working with Taggart. His strength and conditioning program has been successful everywhere he has landed in his career. He will be working with the Ducks promoting physical and mental strength.
Many times coaches have a vision, but have difficulty communicating it. Coach Taggart’s vision has been clear from day one: “Make no excuses, Blame no one, and Do something!“ He communicates that vision with an excitability and enthusiasm that is enjoyable to watch. Accordingly, he has established high expectations for his staff, players and coaches. I am looking forward to watching the Ducks get back to their winning ways under Coach Taggart and the rest of the staff.
College Football Analyst for CFF Network/FishDuck.com
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