Zac Taylor won't consider leaving Bengals for vacant Oklahoma head coaching job

Kelsey Conway
Cincinnati Enquirer

There's been a lot of shake up in the college football world this week with Lincoln Riley leaving Oklahoma to take the head coaching job at USC and Brian Kelly abruptly leaving Notre Dame for LSU

And with two vacant jobs open now at Oklahoma and Notre Dame, it begs the question: Who will these pronounced universities target as their replacements? 

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Despite Bengals head coach Zac Taylor's ties to the University of Oklahoma, the 38-year-old head coach has no interest in leaving his current situation with in Cincinnati. 

"No...absolutely not," Taylor said in response to being asked if he would be interested if the Sooners were to approach him about the job. "We've put in too much work here. I've got too much respect for an organization that took a chance on a young guy that not many people would and have the patience to stick through two difficult years with this vision in place. Nothing has been completed yet so there is zero percent chance I would ever consider something like that."

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Taylor was born in Norman, Okla. and went to high school at Norman High School less than a mile from the university. His dad, Sherwood, played safety at Oklahoma from 1976-1979 under Barry Switzer. The Taylor family knows all about the Sooner football tradition. 

Taylor is enjoying his first winning season as an NFL head coach. After going 6-25-1 in his first two seasons, Taylor has led the Bengals to a 7-4 record with a spot in the playoffs if the season ended today. 

One of the biggest moves Taylor has made in his career is drafting quarterback Joe Burrow. Their partnership works for a lot of reasons, most notably Taylor's understanding of the position.

Despite a prolific career at Norman High School, Taylor didn't earn a scholarship offer to Oklahoma. His college career started at Wake Forest before transferring to Nebraska where he led the Cornhuskers to the Big 12 championship game in 2006. Taylor earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors for his performance that season.

Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor (13) hands off to teammate Brandon Jackson (32)  during the first half of an NCAA football game in Stillwater, Okla. at Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006.

After college, Taylor's NFL stint was brief after going undrafted. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him in 2007 but was cut during preseason. His coaching career began a few years later.

The Bengals hired Taylor in hopes he could create the right culture and get the Bengals back to winning consistently. He's well on his way to showing what he preached in his interview process to get the job weren't just talking points, he meant them. 

In addition to getting the Bengals to 7-4 with six games to play in the regular season and a chance to win the AFC North since 2015, he's running an offense that's emerging as one of the best in the NFL in scoring. Running back Joe Mixon and Burrow also rank in the top-10 in the AFC in rushing yards and passing yards. Not only is Taylor's team talented, his group is relatively young with only five players over the age of 30.

Taylor believes the Bengals are just scratching what they can be and based off the way the division looks like it could be turning, Cincinnati could go from one of the worst teams in the NFL for two seasons to a contender year-after-year under Taylor's leadership with Burrow under center.