Even the President has not been able to stir up more controversy than Oregon Duck Football Coach Willie Taggart this week. Taggart or #SlickWillie as we have named him has been leveraging his position to force both Oregon and Florida State to bid for his services. Instead of weighing and balancing his options like a real man he and his agent have been dragging out his likely flight from Eugene to Florida State. The process has been frustrating and painful to watch and day after day the Ducks and their fans grow more and more agitated and frustrated.
Everyone but a few are looking at this as "just business" and as a natural process in the mega-billions game that is college football. These coaches are becoming mega-millionaires and the colleges keep running up the bids for who they think can win them more games and a Championship.
For me this is not just business, this is a perversion of the highest level. College football is now a big business, I give you that. But lost in this equation are the recruits who have almost no power and are indentured servants. Coaches get to leave anytime and have health care and benefits. They have endless rights and choices. Our boys, the young men who are giving their health and lives to make our college team work, are being taken advantage of.
Taggart as a Liar: For me, this is a huge issue. This man is a master recruiter and anyone watching the Ducks recruiting class can see that. He came and within a few months landed enough high-level recruits to gain the Ducks a ranking of having the #1 recruiting class in the Nation from Scout.com. That was the first time Oregon has ever had a class even in the Top 10. Imagine what he must be saying with that snake's tongue of his to get America's best and most seasoned recruits to commit. These athletes and their parents have heard it all; his ability to land them means the man is one of the best at making promises (which he would never keep) and getting them to buy into him as a Coach. Let me suggest that Willie Taggart is a decent football Coach but a master closer. Lest you think I am picking on #SlickWllie I am not- I consistently call out Coaches who game the systems, lie to our kids, and leave them hanging with broken promises. Here is our article on Steve Sarkisian from 4 years back after he left in the middle of the night and signed with USC after promising recruits he would never do that.
If Coffee is for closers this guy would be drowning in Starbucks!
Taggart as a Coach: Well he is below 500 as a Coach. Yes, he has had his moments but let me suggest he is doing less with more. A man that can close talent like the talent he has had should be over 500. Perhaps once he lands somewhere and actually starts coaching things will improve. If he leaves for FSU he will only have about 3 years or he will be out.
Taggart as a Businessman: On this mark we see him winning. Maybe it is not him but actually his agent Jimmy Sexton. The man just landed a $7,500,000 dollar commission from moving his client, FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher, to Texas A&M. Sexton stands to make another few Million when Taggart moves to FSU. The fact that he has left this go so long seems to be stemming from negotiations between Sexton and FSU. I could care less- none of us could. That money is being sucked out of the educational coiffures anyway- it is all a sham!
Recruits Lives and Futures at Risk:
Having made a case for this relationship of college football vs recruits what do we think would be better and what can recruits do?
- Recruits should try and balance the Coaching staff of the school recruiting them VS the school. Those saying to make a decision based on the school do not understand the process. Kids want to play for a leader and his staff; the school comes second. Finding a balance is tough. Let's say a top kid has a choice between Notre Dame and Arizona State. He loves ASU and wants to play for their Coach but likes the Notre Dame staff too. In this case, he should choose Notre Dame. On the degree alone that one goes to them hands down. This is so tough.
- Recruits should assume they are being lied to. Sorry to say that with all the good coaches out there but it is true. Believe half of what you hear- maybe less. Imagine the school without the coaches and if you would still play there without them you are in good shape.
- Recruits should ask the Coach what he will do when he is offered more money and how they can know he means what he says? Maybe they should ask the Coach to pledge his loyalty on a stack of bibles or on the lives of his family. Not sure it would matter to some but it's not a bad thought.
- Recruits should ask for a written commitment that if they choose to transfer the coach will not stop them. The NCAA allows recruits to transfer, not freely but it can be done. BUT is the coach blocks said transfer it will not happen. That drama is playing out right now at WSU with Mike Leach blocking the transfer of one of his top WR players who is wanting to be closer to his children. Leach was reportedly looking at the Tennessee job and blocked this athlete from leaving.
- The NCAA needs to be sued or made to recognize that these athletes are not slaves. Whatever freedoms are afforded to the Coaches need to be afforded to the athletes. In my view that includes equal footing on transfers, on provisions for medical coverage during and after school, and on a myriad of other issues including being allowed to be represented. Student-athletes and their parents are the only part of the equation who are not allowed representation in the process of recruiting and commitment and it is a very very bad thing indeed.
We posted 2 polls this week amid the controversy. First Up is the question if an athlete would leave and de-commit if they found out Coach Taggart lied to them - and they had no assurance the new head man would want them. The results here were mixed but show a majority would cut and run- that may happen at Oregon this week.
When asked about athletes rights to transfer of the Coach leaves the respondents were clear- if the Coach leaves the player is a free agent and free to leave- we needed the proviso that the athlete would not be allowed to follow the coach to the new school. But this is an important area for the NCAA to gain clarity because things are they are now are very wrong and we all know it.
Think about this for a moment- If the athletes are allowed to transfer to a new school when the Coach that recruited them leaves (other than the school the Head Coach is leaving to) with a 30-day notice at any time by NCAA rules wouldn't that make NCAA Coaching contracts much more difficult to walk away from? No college is going to pay millions to a Coach, have him leave, and cause an exodus of their talent pool thus ruining the program. This one rule change I believe will equal the playing field.
Not a Duck hater: This week "Duck Fan" attacked me for being anti-Duck. Nothing can be farther from the truth. NWPR is a recruiting website with NO ALLEGIANCE NOR BIAS to any school. Any college or University that offers NW High School Football players an opportunity to gain a paid education and play football we are all for. Oregon Fans will never know the numbers of recruits we have covered who ended up at Oregon and who gained opportunities to attend Oregon through our mailers and exposure. How could we not support the school? We do- always will.
Having said that if you have a Coach like #SlickWillie or SARK or anyone else who has hurt the physical, emotional, or financial well being of the athletes we are here to help then that school by virtue of our words by default will appear to be out of favor with NWPR. That is simply not the truth.
The Oregon Ducks are suffering immense damage as a result of this #SlickWillie fiasco. The University should have fired him a week ago if he refused a mega-millions extension. What he was saying to the Ducks and to his recruits and Coaches was clear; they were not that important to him.
We exist for the Athletes period. We support the great coaches and schools all over the country but because the athletes are legally treated as indentured servants under the system we have in place it is they who we are here to support in any and all ways that we can!
Follow leading Prep Football Analyst Dirk Knudsen and his Crew all year long!