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Bulls to Miami Beach Bowl, Taggart Contract Extended

Miami Beach Bowl
USF football will play Western Kentucky Univ. in the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 21.

The University of South Florida football team had one of its most eventful weekends in recent times, first with Saturday's announcement that head coach Willie Taggart's contract will be extended and the Bulls accepting an invitation to the Miami Beach Bowl on Sunday.

USF (8-4, 6-2 in the American Athletic Conference) will play Western Kentucky University (11-2, 9-0 Conference USA champions) at Marlins Park in Miami on Monday, Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPN.

It's USF's first bowl game since 2010 and matches Taggart against the team he quarterbacked in 1995-1998, served as an assistant coach for in 1999-2006 and led as head coach from 2010-2012.

According to a USF press release,

“I am so happy for our players, coaches and fans,” said Taggart, who guided the Bulls to victory in seven of their last eight games. “The young men in our program believed in what we are building and committed themselves to the hard work, energy and team-first attitude needed to achieve their goals and set this program on an exciting path. I am so proud of them and so happy, particularly for our seniors, that they have the opportunity to complete this season in the Miami Beach Bowl.”

In other major bowl games with Florida ties, Connecticut and Marshall meet in the St. Petersburg Bowl in Tropicana Field and Miami plays Washington State in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in Texas, both on Dec. 26; #9 ranked Florida State plays #18 Houston in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta on New Year's Eve; #19 Florida will play #14 Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando on New Year's Day; and #23 Tennessee takes on #13 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium, also on New Year's Day.

Florida will host a total of nine bowl games, including #4 Oklahoma and #1 Clemson in a Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens on December 31.

Less than 24 hours before USF announced its bowl berth, Athletic Director Mark Harlan announced via Twitter that Taggart's contract would be extended through 2020.

Taggart followed with his own tweet a few minutes later.

Taggart spoke last week to the University of South Carolina about their head coaching vacancy, but Harlan said on Sunday that negotiations with Taggart were already underway.

Terms of the deal weren't announced. Taggart is finishing up the third year of a five-year deal that pays about $1.2 million a year. It's believed that the salary pool for the USF assistant coaches will also increase from its current $1.9 million level.

Taggart posted a 6-18 record in his first two years at USF, and began this season 1-3 before his team won seven of its last eight games.

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