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Taggart: Earl Garcia wanted to join my staff

Former USF coach Willie Taggart was publicly criticized Wednesday by Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia for what Garcia said was a lack of relationshp with local prep coaches.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Former USF coach Willie Taggart was publicly criticized Wednesday by Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia for what Garcia said was a lack of relationshp with local prep coaches.

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February

A day after being publicly blasted by veteran Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia, former USF coach Willie Taggart said he was both stunned and stumped by Garcia's attack.

In fact, Taggart said, Garcia wanted to join Taggart's inaugural Bulls staff (which Garcia denies).

"I don't know what it is," Taggart said Thursday evening in a phone interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "I mean, it's something personal for him to go to the paper and say it again and I'm not even there anymore."

During Hillsborough's national signing day ceremony Wednesday, which featured former Taggart recruit Duran Bell Jr. signing with USF, Garcia said Taggart "had absolutely no relationship with local coaches."

He also said USF went "from a Kia to a Cadillac" when it hired Charlie Strong to replace Taggart in December.

It wasn't the first time Garcia had criticized the Taggart regime.

"The only thing I can think of...he wanted me to hire him when I first got the job (at USF) and I didn't; I hired (Plant coach Robert) Weiner," said Taggart, who brought Weiner aboard as receivers coach only to have Weiner step down days later.

"And ever since then it hasn't been the same. ... We invited him to speak at our coaching clinic, never came over. What kills me is, he says he never spoke to me. Every time I go to his school he's never there. I've got to speak to his assistant."

Counting Bell, USF signed three Hillsborough High players during the Taggart era including OLB Nigel Harris and DB Michael Hampton, who redshirted this past season. Taggart said he doesn't recall withdrawing a scholarship offer to a Terriers player.

Taggart resigned in early December to accept the same job with Oregon after winning 17 of his final 21 games at USF. In his last game as Bulls coach, a 48-31 rout of UCF, nine of the Bulls' 22 starters -- and 14 players on the two-deep chart -- were from a bay area high school.

USF finished 11-2 in 2016, setting a program single-season victory total.

"Someone texted me the story and I saw where he called me a Kia," Taggart said. "I like Kia 900s, they're pretty cool. Kia 900s got an 11-2 record."

[Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2017 8:35pm]

    

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