Vitale, Kinnan back Taggart for USF football job
As USF continues its search for a new head football coach, Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart picked up endorsements from a pair of locals in basketball guru Dick Vitale and longtime Bradenton Manatee coach Joe Kinnan.
"He played HS football in my area at MANATEE HS # 1 in USA - Would be a great hire 4 USF-WILLIE TAGGART is a natural . Willie is a WINNER!" Vitale wrote on Twitter.com, where he has more than 400,000 followers.
Kinnan, who was a finalist for USF's original coaching job in 1995, coached Taggart at Manatee and has kept in touch with him throughout his coaching career.
"I think he would be a great fit," said Kinnan, who has Manatee in the state semifinals this weekend. "He has a tremendous demeanor, a very charismatic person. I've never heard anybody say a negative word ever about Willie Taggart. (In an interview) he'll blow it away. He is a class act, about as humble as they come. Just a wonderful, wonderful person and would be a great role model for the University of South Florida."
Kinnan said Taggart's recruiting success at Western Kentucky would translate well to a USF program in his old backyard -- Taggart signed Manatee running back Leon Allen this past year over a scholarship offer from Miami, Kinnan said.
Kinnan said he recently got a call from USF, confirming his contact information for follow-up calls as a reference for Taggart.
NOT NUTT YET: Foxsports.com reported that former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt was interviewing for USF's opening, but Nutt, reached by phone on Tuesday afternoon, said he has only had a preliminary conversation with USF and has not lined up an interview yet.
"I think it's a really super program and I have a lot of interest, but right now I'm kind of waiting to see," said Nutt, who has worked as a studio analyst for CBS Sports this season and is eager to return to the sidelines. Asked if he expected to interview for the job, Nutt said that would be "premature" to speculate.