The Oregon Ducks are without a head coach for the second time in a year after Willie Taggart was hired by Florida State on Wednesday. In his short time in Eugene, Taggart transformed the school’s recruiting efforts, hauling in one of the nation’s top classes.
But with Taggart now gone and many of the Ducks' commits questioning their decisions, plenty of other programs stand to benefit from the instability in Eugene.
We examine which five schools have the most to gain.
1. OREGON STATE BEAVERS
Less than two weeks ago it was Taggart celebrating and even talking a little trash in the postgame press conference following Oregon’s 69-10 victory over the Beavers in the Civil War. Now former player Jonathan Smith is established as the Beavers' head coach and the Ducks are back on the market. It only takes a look to the 2016 class to see that Oregon State can go toe-to-toe with the Ducks for in-state talent with the right head coach and with the early signing period right around the corner the Beavers' new staff will surely try to poach some in-state commits.
Four-star wide receiver Braden Lenzy already backed off his commitment and the Ducks have four other in-state prospects that Oregon State would surely like to land. Even if the Beavers don’t have luck in this year’s class, instability in Eugene is always good news for the fans in Corvallis.
2. UCLA BRUINS
It has to sting Oregon fans that they were in the market for a head coach two times in the last 12 months and both times Kelly, who made a name for himself in Eugene, wasn’t available. Having taken the UCLA job last month, Kelly is already building a staff of former Oregon assistants in an effort to recreate the magic of his time in Eugene.
Just this week Kelly was back in Oregon making a pitch to four-star wide receiver Chase Cota, the son of former Oregon legend Chad Cota. With the Bruins' commitment list turning over rapidly since Kelly has taken over, look for him and his staff to take a hard look at current Oregon commits Steve Stephens and Spencer Webb. The uncertainty in Eugene might also give Kelly the window he needs to land elite uncommitted talent such as Cota and others who might have been leaning toward the Ducks.
3. WASHINGTON HUSKIES
The Ducks dominated the Dawgs for a dozen years in the heated rivalry between the two schools but now the tables have turned and the Huskies have won back-to-back matchups in the series. Add in the fact that Washington has also started to reach into the Portland area for talent and another year of coaching chaos only benefits Chris Petersen and company in Seattle.
Washington currently has commitments from two four-stars in the state of Oregon, wide receiver Trey Lowe and defensive end Draco Bynum, as well as former four-star Oregon quarterback commit Colson Yankoff and Oregon legacy Jackson Sirmon. Could things get even better for Washington now with Taggart out? Prospects such as four-star Oregon commit Eli’Jah Winson could be in play, as well as the recently de-committed Lenzy.
4. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
It’s obvious that the ‘Noles benefit from bringing Taggart back to his home state and stabilizing their program less than a week after Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M. While Taggart’s hire is expected to pay dividends on the field, it also could have major ramifications on the Seminoles' recruiting class.
One-time Florida State commitment Isaiah Bolden flipped from the ‘Noles to the Ducks and quickly backed off his pledge once the news broke on Wednesday and Rivals100 wide receiver Warren Thompson had long been committed to Oregon despite repeated efforts from the previous FSU staff to flip him.
Expect Taggart and his new staff, however it will be comprised, to attempt to raid the Ducks' commitment list for players such as Thompson and his teammate, four-star defensive end Malcolm Lamar.
5. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
The Tide and Ducks don’t often run into each other on the recruiting trail but that’s been the case with Rivals100 offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who was down to those two programs before rumors started swirling about Taggart’s future. Oregon seemed to be in a great position to win the battle for Sewell, mainly because of Taggart and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal. But with so much uncertainty will Sewell shift his primary focus to the Tide?
While Taggart was weighing his options between the Ducks and Seminoles, Nick Saban was doing an in-home visit. If Cristobal is hired to replace Taggart all bets are off, but right now Alabama appears to be in a good position.