In 2014, Oregon played for a national title and Baylor was in the mix for a playoff spot. Two years later, the Ducks fired Mark Helfrich after a 4-8 season, and the Bears went 6-6 after a sexual-assault scandal brought the Art Briles era to a close in Waco.
Both programs, however, are already turning the page. Oregon hired South Florida’s Willie Taggart, while Baylor hired Temple’s Matt Rhule.
Charles Davis found both hires intriguing.
“Makes perfect sense to me in terms of getting Willie Taggart,” the NFL Network analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Think about background. He was with the Harbaughs for a long time. Quarterback at Western Kentucky for (Jack) Harbaugh, which won the national championship. Coached under Jim. Built programs and did well at those places. What he did this past year, many people wondered if he would make it after this year – brand-new athletic director, the whole deal – and he could not have had a better season.”
South Florida went 10-2 with its only losses coming against Florida State and at Temple.
“(He) developed kids well, understands styles, and here’s the thing that Oregon needs more than anything: they need toughness,” Davis said. “Willie Taggart’s going to bring that. Think about how Harbaugh coaches and what he brought to Michigan and what he brought to Stanford and San Diego, and you get the same thing with Taggart. So that makes sense to me. It also didn’t hurt at all that Tony Dungy was heavy in his camp, and Tony Dungy’s a well-respected person. His son had played at Oregon. But they need the antithesis of what they’ve had. Let’s face it: What have we talked about with them that have been issues over the last few years: not being able to stop anyone, not very tough, not very aggressive. Taggart is going to have to build that.”
Rhule, meanwhile, will also need to bring toughness to Baylor, which rose to national prominence with a flashy, up-tempo offense.
“I’m eager to see how he integrates his style, his philosophy and everything at Baylor,” Davis said. “Here’s where he has a challenge: They are used to playing a certain style of offense there. That put them back on the map. Briles’ air-raid style stuff. It continued this year. Jim Grobe is the titular head coach, but it was the same offensive staff: Briles’ son-in-law and Briles’ son. They still kept slinging it around doing that. Matt Rhule doesn’t do that. But will he have to keep some elements of that for a fan base that’s used to it while finding a way to bring that toughness that he brought to Temple to them? Because if he’s able to bring both, you’ve got something different in the Big 12. The Big 12, amazingly enough, all those years when you thought of Texas and Oklahoma as being extremely physical teams, when’s the last time you really thought of them that way? The whole conference, you don’t think of that way. So if Matt Rhule is able to bring to Baylor what he brought to Temple, they become an outlier. That’s a good thing in that conference.”