- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Colorado defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt is joining new head coach Willie Taggart’s staff at Oregon, Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre confirmed Thursday.

FoxSports.com first reported Wednesday that Leavitt, a former head coach at South Florida like Taggart, would be the Ducks’ defensive coordinator. Oregon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

“Jim and our defensive staff did an excellent job with our defense the last two years. Jim brought a lot of expertise and energy to our defense,” MacIntyre said in a statement. “I wish him the best in his move to the University of Oregon and thank him for all the hard work, time and energy he gave to the Colorado Buffaloes,”

Leavitt has spent the past two seasons with the Buffaloes. This season, Colorado is ranked 17th nationally for total defense, allowing an average of 328.3 yards per game, and 18th for scoring defense, allowing 20.5 points per game.

The No. 11 Buffaloes (10-3) will play Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. It is Colorado’s first bowl game since 2007.

Leavitt tweeted on Wednesday evening: “I love CU, players, Boulder and all alum! Been great to me! Couldn’t pass up opportunity for family! South Champs! Been a great ride!!”

Leavitt also spent four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers under coach Jim Harbaugh. Leavitt was the first head coach at South Florida, from 1997-2009.

Taggart, who spent the past four seasons at South Florida, was hired last week to take over the Ducks following a disappointing 4-8 season and the dismissal of coach Mark Helfrich.

Taggart and Leavitt share a connection in Harbaugh. As a player, Taggart was recruited to Western Kentucky by Harbaugh, whose father Jack was coach of the Hilltoppers. Taggart was later an assistant under Harbaugh at Stanford.

Leavitt will have his work cut out for him at Oregon. Former Michigan coach Brady Hoke attempted to install a new 4-3 defensive scheme and the Ducks finished the season ranked 126th out of the 128 FBS-level teams for total defense, allowing opponents an average of 528.4 yards per game. Oregon allowed an average of 41.4 points per game, ranked 125th nationally.

When Oregon President Michael Schill introduced Taggart at a news conference last Thursday, he said his only advice to the new coach was to “go find a great defensive coordinator.”

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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