It’s now Friday morning, Jan. 27. With letters of intent due in a week, and Ducks fans then having their first opportunity to view, and evaluate the work of, Willie Taggart’s [possibly] entire new staff of assistants, it’s a good time to talk about how things are going for this coaching staff as we head into a very important final week.
First, the overreaction stuff: Unlike what Paul Finebaum, an infamous SEC promoter, said, a “disaster” didn’t happen to the Oregon football program. Shit happened.
The new conditioning coach, Irele Oderinde, did the job he was meant to do — get the Duck players in the best shape possible, physically and mentally — and he got suspended for it. To the utter disbelief of most of us who’ve coached or played “real good,” demanding football, Oderinde was suspended for doing his job well. Never mind the actual details of that justifiably demanding workout or that all the other Ducks players said Oderinde did nothing wrong, he was made a scapegoat for non-gratuitous stuff happening.
Then Coach David Reaves got busted while drunk driving. I obviously won’t try to justify his behavior. But, fortunately no one — except David Reaves — was hurt. This incident, in fact, could be a wonderful warning to others and a statement of accountability that Oregon won’t tolerate such behavior. It’s kind of like a team playing a real lousy game — that a lot can be learned from — but still winning it.
In both of these incidents the saying, “If it doesn’t kill you, it CAN make you better” seems appropriate. It’s how we react to shit that happens which determines the quality of our lives.
What Finebaum didn’t mention was Oregon’s Willie Taggart bringing together the best staff of college assistant coaches I’ve ever known. And, so far, that staff has recruited an apparently excellent group of football players.
Tying in those two themes, how does Taggart replace the important co-offensive coordinator, David Reaves, at this relatively late date, and maintain the incredible quality of his coaching staff?
First, some reminders: It appears that the Ducks need a new TE coach, since that was Reaves’s title. But actually what Oregon needs is a quarterbacks coach.
You see, in April, all NCAA football teams will be able to add a 10th assistant coach. Taggart already has, on his staff, that potential 10th assistant. David Gilbertson is now a Ducks’ offensive analyst; he served in that same capacity for Taggart last year at University of South Florida. In 2015, Gilbertson was the tight ends coach for USF. Taggart hired him as a full-time coach after Gilbertson served as a graduate assistant in 2014, a sign that Taggart thinks Gilbertson is a very special young coach.
If everything remained constant on the coaching staff, in April, Taggart would have moved Reaves to QB coach, where he had spent many successful seasons, and a logical position for the co-offensive coordinator. And Gilbertson would have become the TE coach.
Are you still with me? There will be some speculaton mixed with facts to follow. So why didn’t Taggart just name Reaves the QB coach? Because what if an incredible QB coach became available? Then CWT would have to demote Reaves to TE coach and keep Gilbertson as an analyst.
So now Oregon really needs a great QB coach and co-offensive coordinator. Fortunately, that title means a great deal to the resume of an ambitious young QB coach. And there are some pretty damn good players and other coaches to work with at Oregon. So I tried to google around and come up with candidates for this extremely important 10th coaching job.
Damn. It seemed as if I read about every possible QB coach in the nation. Even very momentarily a Briles [the son not the father] and a Petrino [the good brother not the bad]. Never got desperate enough to consider Tebow. But it seemed all the good guys are either securely taken or just “not right” for the chemistry of Taggart’s co-offensive coordinator.
The one guy that really seems to fit the Ducks’ needs in every way except ONE BIG ONE is Dameyune Craig. Willie Taggart is very well-acquainted with Coach Craig; Taggart offered Craig the offensive coordinator position at USF in 2016, but Dameyune spurned him to go to LSU, with Head Coach Les Miles, as the WRs coach. It also has been written that Taggart contacted Craig early in his search for a Ducks’ OC, but then that BIG THING came up . . .
So why would I like Dameyune Craig, above all the others, for the Oregon QB coach?
Dameyune was a great dual threat QB at Auburn, and then developed excellent college QBs, E.J. Manuel and Christian Ponder, at Florida State, under Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. Craig also recruited Jameis Winston to come to FSU. Dameyune is very charismatic and an excellent recruiter.
In 2013 Gus Malzahn lured Craig back to his Alma mater, Auburn, as co-offensive coordinator and WRs coach. But Craig badly wanted to coach QBs again, and Malzahn wouldn’t comply.
So in 2016 Craig left Auburn to coach WRs at LSU. But Les Miles was fired, Ed Orgeron took over, a new offensive coordinator was brought in and Dameyune Craig still isn’t coaching QBs. (More info about Craig is here)
Perfect scenario for Willie Taggart to rescue him, right? Nope. Because of Craig’s hiring being just TOO COSTLY. He has a buyout clause of $600,000. That’s not counting his current $500, 000 salary from LSU.
So that’s the way I see things currently standing: Dameyune Craig would definitely be the best fit for Oregon’s next QB coach and co-offensive coordinator. I’m sure he’d really love coaching QBs again, with Willie Taggart, Mario Cristobal and the other outstanding assistants. But it seems like it ain’t happening. He’s being held hostage by LSU. Maybe we, fans, could have a fundraiser?
After all my research, I only came up with one other IMO outstanding candidate: Turner Gill, currently the head coach at Liberty University. That’s not gonna happen either.
The good news is this is just speculation coming from an old man with limited sources. Willie Taggart surely has a very well thought out solution to the problem of the missing QB coach
Hopefully, soon we’ll all be smiling at the selection of the Ducks’ new QB coach. And I’ll be thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Retired Coach Mike Morris (Grizzled Ol’ Coach)
Pleasant Hill, Oregon
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