It appears Florida wasn’t kidding when it announced it wanted to have a new coach by the early signing period.
According to a report from Darren Heitner, a Florida alum and sports agent, the school has contacted Oregon coach Willie Taggart about possibly replacing Jim McElwain after the latter’s dismissal Sunday. Heitner also reported school boosters are actively discussing the move.
MORE: Nine candidates to replace McElwain at Florida
Willie Taggart now a real possibility for Gators. He’s been contacted; boosters actively discussing (Reporting w/ @sportsDen_live)
— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) October 30, 2017
For his part, Taggart denied reports that he’d been contacted and said he wasn’t interested in the job.
“I have not been contacted by anyone,” he said (via NBC Sports). “The only AD I’ve been contacted by is (Oregon’s) Rob Mullens, and I love that guy. I’m committed to the University of Oregon and focused on Washington, a big-time game for us this week.”
Still, it’s worth considering: Taggart has eight years of head coaching experience, counting the 2017 season. His Ducks are 5-4, but rank 36th nationally with 445 yards per game. His offense in his final two seasons at South Florida — a team he coached to a 24-25 record from 2013-16 — was one of the most potent in the nation.
That would be a marked improvement over Florida’s offensive struggles: Under McElwain, the Gators never ranked better than 112th nationally in yards per game.
Another knock against McElwain was his inability to develop quarterback talent. Two Taggart-coached quarterbacks, Quinton Flowers at USF and Justin Herbert at Oregon, have performed exceptionally well this season. Taggart also has a potential advantage in that he likely still has recruiting connections in the state of Florida.