USF representatives, Willie Taggart discuss Bulls football vacancy

The former Bulls coach badly wants a second act in Tampa
New USF football coach Willie Taggart keeps an eye on drills at practice on Friday.
New USF football coach Willie Taggart keeps an eye on drills at practice on Friday. [ File photo ]
Published Dec. 4, 2019|Updated Dec. 4, 2019

At least two representatives of USF have been in contact with former Bulls coach Willie Taggart regarding his old job, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Taggart, 43, has made it clear to friends and peers he badly wants to return to his former gig, this time for the long haul. Publicly, he has remained mostly mum since being dismissed at FSU in early November, where he amassed a 9-12 record in less than two seasons.

USF is seeking a replacement for Taggart’s predecessor, Charlie Strong, fired Sunday after completing a 4-8 season. Athletic director Michael Kelly, who is not using a search firm, said during a brief press conference Monday he would have no further comment on his search until its completion.

MORE BULLS: Big name? Nah. USF needs a coach with big ambitions

Saturday marks the seven-year anniversary of Taggart’s hiring at USF, where his program gradually improved every season, from 2-10 to 4-8 to 8-5 to 11-2. He left in December 2016 for Oregon, where his reported five-year, $16 million deal was a significant hike from his USF contract (five years, $9 million).

He went 7-5 in his lone season with the Ducks before getting a crack at his dream job in Tallahassee, which lasted 23 months.

Another crack at USF would not be considered a rung up the coaching ladder this time around.

It is believed Taggart ― raised in Palmetto ― wants to settle in Tampa and possibly coach his son Willie Jr., a 6-foot-1 senior quarterback who has led Tallahassee’s Florida High to this weekend’s Class 3A state title game. Rivals deems the younger Taggart a three-star prospect.