Willie Taggart ready to drive the bus at South Florida
Willie Taggart stated throughout his introductory press conference as the head coach at South Florida that he was going to start recruiting as soon as he left the room. That wasn't exactly true. Taggart's infectious personality and palpable enthusiasm started selling USF fans and recruits the moment he opened his mouth on Saturday afternoon.
"If you want to be a part of something special, come to USF," said Taggart. "If you're a football player from the 813, the 941, the 863, call me, e-mail me, tweet me, whatever."
Taggart knows the job that lays ahead of him. He must convince recruits to spurn in-state behemoths Florida, Florida State and Miami to come to USF to play in a Big East Conference that isn't what it used to be.
Taggart's plan, at least as it unfolded at the press conference, was threefold. His salespitch was three-pronged: himself, his system and USF.
"I've won all my life," said Taggart. "I won in high school, I won in college, I've won all my life. I'm a winner. Winning comes in doing all the little things right. I do believe winning isn't complicated, people make it complicated."
Coached by Jack Harbaugh and his sons John and Jim, Taggart is a firm disciple of the Harbaugh System. Under his direction, Western Kentucky boasted the Sun Belt's leading rusher in each of his three seasons at the helm, and tight end Jack Doyle was the Hilltoppers' leading receiver this fall.
"It's going to be what you see out of Stanford, out of San Francisco," Taggart said of what to expect of his team. "The exact same thing. We're going to run the football and throw the football. I'm excited to have guys that can stretch the field, and we've got to find the right guy at quarterback. Rarely will he come to the line with only one play, so he's got to be not only a great athlete but a smart kid."
The Big East may be under seemingly constant transition, but Taggart thinks the possibilities are limitless at USF. "I always said I wouldn't leave WKU unless I had a chance to win the national championship and I truly believe we can do that here," he said.
Taggart, a high school legend from Tampa, relishes his opportunity to come home. "I get to see my mom, my dad and my family. I left here in 1994 and I got to see my mom and dad about twcie a year. Now I get to see them whenever I want," said Taggart.
As reported by Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Taggart's contract runs for five years and will pay him a sum of $5.75 million. His pool for assistants is $1.9 million per year.
South Florida athletic director Doug Woolard touted a wide pool of candidates inclduing college head coaches and assitant coaches on the NFL and college levels. Woolard enlisted the help of Tony Dungy in choosing the Bulls' next head coach. So what sold them on Taggart?
"Coach Taggart is young, he's dynamic, he's innovative and he's successful," Woolard said.
We're not going to bow down to anyone," Taggart added. "We're not going to make any excuses. We're going to work."
"Now all we have to do is put everybody on the bus, put them in the right seat and let Coach T drive this bus."
Stay tuned to The Scoop and we'll keep you posted as Taggart fills out his staff.