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Willie Be the One? USF Chooses Taggart

Willie Taggart
Tampa Bay Times

USF didn't wait long, naming Willie Taggart as the third head football coach in the program's history, less than a week after firing Skip Holtz.

Speaking at a news conference Saturday afternoon, Taggart spoke of USF's history while promising a new brand of leadership in the future.

"I always said I wouldn't leave WKU unless I had a chance to go and win a national championship, and I truly believe that can be done here," Taggart said. "It wasn't long ago USF was No. 2 in the country. It's been proven that we can get there," Taggart added. "What we have to do now is put everybody on the bus, put 'em in the right seat and let coach T drive this bus!"

The 36 year old Taggart, a Palmetto native who won a state title in 1992 at Bradenton Manatee High, joins USF after only three years as head coach at Western Kentucky. He posted a 16-20 record for the Hilltoppers, where he also started at quarterback for four years. He was an assistant coach for the Western Kentucky 2002 Division I-AA national champions, and later served as running back coach for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

Western Kentucky, which had lost 20 games in a row before Taggart joined them, posted consecutive 7-5 records the last two seasons. The Hilltoppers will play Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl on December 26th, their first postseason appearance since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2008.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Taggart signed a five year deal with USF that will pay $5.75 million.

His contract will pay him $1.15-million a year for five years, which works to $850,000 less per year than Skip Holtz was making. USF will be paying his $500,000 buyout to Western Kentucky, so that works to an additional $100,000 per year, but it's worth noting that he will keep the same staff for his assistants as Holtz: $1.9-million, which should allow him to surround himself with solid recruiters as an extension of his own coaching philosophy.

He replaces Skip Holtz, who was fired this past Sunday after posting a 16-21 record in three years at USF, which included a 5-16 record in the Big East.

Taggart's hiring has already paid off, as quarterback Mike White of Fort Lauderdale University High, which won a state championship Saturday, has committed to USF.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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