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Opinion: Harbaugh appearance benefits Bulls

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, Willie Taggart's former boss at Stanford, will appear at Taggart's one-day camp Saturday at USF.

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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, Willie Taggart's former boss at Stanford, will appear at Taggart's one-day camp Saturday at USF.

These days, one can't sift through a preseason publication or podcast without being reminded of Willie Taggart's seemingly tenuous job security.

The consensus sentiment is, USF's third-year coach faces a bowl-or-bust fall. To reach the postseason, Taggart must navigate an unforgiving non-conference schedule, successfully reconfigure his offensive line and get production from what will be his third opening-day starting quarterback in as many years.

The odds are stiff. But if Taggart can survive for the long term, he's preparing for it brilliantly.

Case in point: Saturday's one-day camp featuring Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines staff.

If there's one area in which Taggart has undeniably flourished, it's in recruiting. This satellite camp featuring his close friend and former boss (at Stanford) may be his shrewdest effort yet to lure high-caliber prospects to his campus.

"Having something like this, you have an opportunity to get some kids on your campus that you probably wouldn't have got on your campus before," Taggart said in this recent Q-and-A with the Tampa Bay Times. "And that's a plus for us."

Problem is, what Taggart sees as a benefit, others see as a bane. In many parts of the college football landscape -- especially the SEC -- a four-syllable phrase has regressed into a four-letter word.

Someone says "satellite camp," and skeptics construe a scenario in which a Power Five coaching staff descends on another campus for a day to oversee a thinly-veiled recruiting combine. In some cases, that scenario plays out.

Not this one. The benefits for Taggart's program far outweigh any that Harbaugh and Co. may derive. Could the Wolverines make an inroad with some prospects at Saturday's event? Sure. But let's suppose the camp attracts 30 bona fide recruits who never have stepped foot on the Morsani Practice Complex.

The Wolverines can't -- and won't -- get them all. May not even get two or three.

Meantime, that's 30 potential new Bulls prospects exposed to USF's football digs and sprawling campus. If Harbaugh were horning in on Gainesville or Tallahassee, the argument may be altered. In this situation, there should be no argument.

Yet in some circles, one of the American Athletic Conference's most beleaguered coaches is getting maligned again.

If Saturday's camp were observed rationally, the criticism of Taggart would be supplanted by kudos.

[Last modified: Friday, June 5, 2015 4:52pm]


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