Willie Taggart was officially named Oregon head coach moments ago. According to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, endorsements from Jim Harbaugh, Tony Dungy, and Oliver Luck helped sell the Ducks on Taggart.
Early this morning, McMurphy broke the news that Taggart would be the next head coach at Oregon, a move that was officially announced this afternoon.
A few hours after breaking the news, McMurphy tweeted that three endorsements were key in Taggart getting the Ducks job: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, and NCAA executive Oliver Luck.
He expanded on the role that these endorsements had in a podcast with The Oregonian's John Canzano.
"(Taggart) played at Western Kentucky under Jim Harbaugh's dad Jack Harbaugh. I was told one of the reasons that made him so attractive at Oregon were some of the heavy hitters that put in a glowing recommendation for him. Jim Harbaugh, Tony Dungy—you're well aware Tony's son played at Oregon, transferred, finished his career at USF—Tony also lives in Tampa. I saw Oliver Luck here in New York at the National Football Foundation event. He said 'I saw your report, that's great news about Willie,' and he told me he had talked to (Oregon athletic director) Rob Mullens on Willie's behalf because he had helped recruit Andrew Luck to Stanford. Also Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner, who was Stanford's athletic director, obviously he's very familiar with Taggart. So that obviously played a big part."
With Stanford's prominence in recent seasons, Taggart's history there had to play a big part. After playing for Jack Harbaugh, Taggart coached under Jim Harbaugh as Stanford running backs coach from 2007-2009 before returning to his alma mater Western Kentucky to fill the head coaching job. Harbaugh showed what a big Taggart fan he is back in June, when he wore a Taggart USF jersey during a satellite camp.
Obviously, Willie Taggart will need to prove it on the field before every Oregon fan buys in, and expectations in Eugene have gotten pretty high, but having endorsements from names like Harbaugh, Dungy, and Luck doesn't hurt.