EUGENE, Ore. — The Willie Taggart era at Oregon is over after just one season.
The Ducks coach officially accepted the Florida State head coaching job on Tuesday.
"We thank Willie for his efforts at Oregon, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a press release.
Taggart grew up in Florida and coached at the University of South Florida before joining the Ducks. His deal at Florida State is reportedly for six years and $30 million.
During a press conference late Tuesday afternoon, Mullens said Taggart told him the decision was about more than football.
"He said 'this is a family decision, it pulls at my heart strings and I feel like I got to be the coach at Florida State,'" Mullens said.
The search for a new coach has already begun. Mullens said he's looking for someone with a proven track record who can connect with student-athletes, attract assistant coaches and recruits, and fits in with the university's culture.
“This is a special place because of the people. Because of the fans. Because of the success," Mullens said.
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Taggart replaced Mark Helfrich, who was fired last year after a 4-8 season. Oregon went 7-5 during Taggart's lone season in Eugene, capped with the most lopsided Civil War win in rivalry history.
Mullens said Taggart was offered a contract extension prior to the Civil War and subsequent discussions were had until Monday. He said Taggart notified him on Thursday that Florida State had reached out. Rumors swirled that Taggart was Florida State's top candidate when Jimbo Fisher left the Seminoles for Texas A&M last week.
"I understand it got clumsy at the end," Mullens said of the process. "We wanted to do everything we could to provide Coach Taggart the opportunity to remain here.”
Taggart told Mullens about his decision to ultimately join Florida State Tuesday afternoon.
"I was disappointed," Mullens said of Taggart's decision. "We sat down a year ago, we made a commitment to him and he made a commitment to us. We’ve done everything to support our commitment."
Players were told about Taggart's departure shortly after it was reported.
The Ducks play in the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State on Dec. 16. Co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal will coach the team during the game.
"I am grateful to Mario Cristobal for his willingness to step up and lead our program through our upcoming bowl game," Mullens said.
KGW sports contributor John Canzano reports defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will follow Taggart to Florida State. Mullens said he has not heard anything about Leavitt leaving.
Several recruits, including Tigard wide receiver Braden Lenzy, decommitted from Oregon following news of Taggart's departure. The Ducks' recruiting class was ranked the sixth-best in the country by ESPN prior to Taggart bolting for Florida State.