This week has been a gut punch to the University of Oregon and its community. I know as well as any just how tough things have been with Willie Taggart deciding to take the Florida State head coaching position. I have defended Taggart a good number of times in my articles this season.
I’ve defended his play-calling when it was questioned. I’ve defended his decision to use Justin Herbert in the run game when it was being questioned. I defended the game-play that he put in place with Braxton Burmeister at the helm, urging people to understand that Burmeister was a freshman in need of more experience. I put all of my eggs in the Willie Taggart basket, so I understand just how frustrating him leaving is.
I understand that FSU is his dream, and that being close to family is something that’s not easy to overcome. I don’t know what really went on behind the scenes with players, so I’m not going to touch on it at all. In fact, I’ve moved on from the Taggart era. I’m throwing my vote out there for Kevin Sumlin.
I’m not going to get into Sumlin’s entire coaching history, as that is easily accessible, but I will be going through the points that I believe are important and make him qualified for the job.
Firstly, he is a proven winner. Sure, you can say that all he did while at Texas A&M was have a bunch of 8-4 seasons, but he was coaching in arguably the toughest division in college football. While in the SEC West, Sumlin never coached a season where he was below .500. In fact, A&M was above .500, every season he was there. I’ll give you a wild guess as to who the only other team in the SEC West to stay above .500 the last six years is.
Secondly, he is the only available name out there that is on par with the recruiting prowess of Taggart. I know a lot of fans have been clamoring for Mario Cristobal to be the next HC just for the sake of trying to keep the current recruiting class together. I think that is a short-term fix for a long-term problem. Sumlin has the charisma and recruiting chops to come in and salvage a good majority of the class.
In his first three seasons at Texas A&M, Sumlin’s classes ranked at about No. 8 nationally, according to 247Sports.com. The jewel of his time with the Aggies was a fifth-ranked class in 2014.
Sumlin has landed countless 5-star recruits and has sent countless others to the NFL. Quite a few have been first-round picks. That’s a one-up over Taggart.
You can say, well that’s in Texas. If Taggart did one thing for Oregon, it was showing that you can recruit, and recruit well, at this university. I don’t think Taggart was some sort of wizard who’s the only one who can get these kids to Eugene. That O still means something — you just have to be willing to actually recruit. And what we lose in recruiting Florida players with Taggart, we can pick up in recruiting in Texas with Sumlin.
I really like the offensive coordinator who Sumlin could very possibly bring with him. I don’t think that Noel Mazzone gets the recognition outside of coaching circles that he should. The man is a heck of an offensive mind.
What Sumlin and Mazzone do on offense is very similar to what Oregon does, but Mazzone is also known for his “Nzone” system. This system is very quarterback friendly. The reads are in such a way that the QB can get the ball out quickly to his playmakers. Herbert, with all of his talent, would make teams look silly with this offense. I encourage you to take a look at the Nzone offense. Mazzone was the OC at UCLA when Brett Hundley was the starting QB. (That’ll give you some idea of what his offense is like).
Another reason why we need Sumlin is to solve the question we have about defense.
I think it would be awesome to keep the defensive staff and let Sumlin fill out the offensive staff. That would be my ideal situation.
Unfortunately, there are rumblings that Jim Leavitt will be following Taggart to FSU. It isn’t certain, but where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. If Leavitt does leave, Sumlin would be inclined to bring John Chavis with him.
Chavis is easily one of the nation’s best defensive coordinators. He is affectionately known as the Chief. If Sumlin could convince him to come along, that would be the next best thing for Oregon’s football program. Of course, we would probably be changing defensive schemes again, as Chavis runs a multiple four-man front, but he would be a man who could make it work. Before becoming Sumlin’s DC he was in charge of the fearsome defenses that Louisiana State University fielded under Les Miles.
Lastly, I think Sumlin wants this job. He was in strong contention for the University of Central Florida job and they even gave him a deadline to accept their offer. Word is that he turned them down because he was interested in seeing what was going on with the Oregon job, as he had heard the rumors that Taggart planned to leave.
After getting dumped by a guy for his dream job, don’t you want someone who wants to be at Oregon? A guy who would turn down a guaranteed job because the Ducks position might be opening up?
Sounds good to me.
Sumlin is a proven winner and recruiter. He and Mazzone can bring the offensive prowess that has, quite honestly, become the tradition of the Oregon Ducks football program. If our current DC leaves, Sumlin can also bring a comparable replacement. On top of all that, it seems like he wants to come here. To that I say, come on in and let’s Win the Day.
Coach Eric Boles
Top Photo Credit: Laura McKenzie of theeagle.com