Football: Bulls could sign up to 31
With recruiting mired in its NCAA-mandated "dead period," Bulls coach Willie Taggart spent an informal hour in his office with four reporters Wednesday afternoon.
Newsy nuggets were few, and Taggart spent much of the hour reiterating his philosophy, the deficiencies of 2013 and his aspirations for the future. He believes a Bulls appearance in the four-team national title playoff someday is conceivable, "but I can't be the only one to believe that."
Other significant sound bites:
* Taggart can sign up to 31 players this recruiting season, including six that can count retroactively to the prior year's total. He'll announce his junior college signings with all the others on national signing day in early February.
* He wouldn't be shocked if a handful of kids transferred, but expects no member of this past season's two-deep chart to move on. For now, he expects all his assistants back, but added, "You never know, especially in this profession."
* When he talked about quarterback competition for next spring, Taggart mentioned Matt Floyd along with Steven Bench and Mike White (he can't discuss unsigned QBs). The key word was competition. "We were 2-10, ain't nobody safe," he said. "Not even Mike White."
* He'll continue calling the offensive plays.
* His greatest disappointment, he suggested, was the Bulls' inability to establish a consistent run game (3.0 yards per carry, four rushing TDs). "We've got to get bigger, we've got to get stronger, we've got to get faster," Taggart said. "There ain't no going around that." The average weight of his five starting interior linemen was 296 pounds. That number must eclipse 300, he said.
* He said the season took a bit of a toll on him personally, and might have taken more had he not been in this position before. "Just being back home and wanting to make everybody happy and please everyone," he said. "You wanted that perfect book that you read, everything was great about it and it was all interesting. ... You wanted things to go perfect. ... But it didn't go that way. I'd say from that standpoint it probably took a toll."
* Despite losing his top four defensive ends to graduation or NFL aspirations (i.e. Aaron Lynch), Taggart said he feels good about the position going forward.
* He said he's not sure if this year's team had enough players who truly hated losing. "We've got to get it to where everybody hates losing," he said. "That's when we'll learn to win."
* Every player on the roster will be held accountable. "As long as I'm the head football coach, I'm not going to allow anyone to eat off this university for free," he said. "We're going to get what we need out of these guys, and I want them to get what they can out of this university. But it's going to go both ways. No bus riders and steak eaters."