“It’s not about the Xs and Os, it’s the Jimmies and Joes.”
That old saying will never change. The team with the best players is far more often than not going to win the battle on the field. The truth is, winning football games is far more about winning the recruiting battles (& then developing those men even further), than it is about out-scheming your opponent for 60 minutes.
Recruiting is about relationships and being trustworthy. If you lie, people lose trust in you. Never lie. People will be hurt if things change and you make a different decision; but never lie.
This all brings me to the situation of Willie Taggart and Oregon…and Florida State. For weeks word has been growing from a whisper into a megaphone (& eventually into an official release) that Jimbo was leaving for Texas A&M. Not long thereafter the whispers began to circulate that first year Oregon head coach Willie Taggart was already looking to leave. Next, came the “report” from SB Nation that he had engaged in discussions with Ole Miss. Then, we began to hear that he would likely be offered by Florida State.
Through all of this Willie Taggart has consistently “no commented”. Weeks of “no comment”, “I don’t address rumors”, “not going to discuss rumors”. Even Friday, on camera, Willie was asked by a throng of reporters and once again simply refused to speak about the rumors.
Well, fast forward to Saturday evening. No cameras were around. No one was begging him for a statement. There was no “gun to his head.”
But, out of the blue, Willie Taggart chose to directly address the rumors.
Not only did he break his silence, he chose to mention getting on the road recruiting for 2018 and added his Ducks 2018 #TheMovement18. Once again, no one made him issue this statement; and yes folks, in 2017, a tweet from his personal account is actually even better than a staff issued release. These are his words. He chose them carefully.
Last night we wrote that in choosing to issue that statement, Taggart is telling his base he’s staying. Response from the twitter was fairly strong (& often times fairly funny) pointing out that Taggart did not actually use the words, “I will coach the Ducks in 2018.” Clearly, Taggart attended the “Jimmy Sexton workshop on things coaches should never say to always maintain leverage”; but in all seriousness he has no way of knowing if some program might come offer him something ridiculous like $75 million guaranteed (in which case anyone would be a fool not to accept). But the reality is, Taggart put himself out there last night. He boxed himself in. If he were to leave, specifically for the Florida State offer after choosing to break days of “no commenting” with a statement saying he’s going on the road for the Ducks and referencing TheMovement18 he would be universally crushed by every recruiting opponent. Every Gator coach, every Hurricane coach, every UCF / USF / UGA / Clemson / Alabama coach, etc… would carry around a binder of Taggart’s words right before leaving a dream opportunity such as “returning home” to South Florida or “the greatest opportunity in coaching” at Oregon.
Taggart’s words left him no choice. He has to stay at Oregon, or he will be branded a liar; and liars can not be trusted.
Update> The internet always finds things… exactly the type of thing other recruiters would find & use.