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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. [File photo]
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.


  1. Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine (22) smashes into LSU Tigers safety John Battle (26) in the second quarter. (Bronte Wittpenn, Times)
  2. BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
Florida Gators wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches the ball near the end zone in the third quarter in a game against LSU at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Saturday, October 6, 2018.
  3. USF defensive back Mike Hampton (7), returning an interception during the 2018 season opener, will help lead the Bulls through what could be the American Athletic Conference's toughest schedule in 2020.
  4. USF wide receiver Randall St. Felix (84) and the Bulls have only one open date in the 2020 season. USF's complete 2020 schedule was finalized Tuesday.
  5. Former USF coach Charlie Strong (left), greeting Alabama coach Nick Saban at a 2017 summer football camp on the Bulls campus, reportedly has joined Saban's staff in an analyst role.
  6. Connecticut's Megan Walker, left, drives past USF's Shae Leverett during the second half of the Huskies' 67-47 triumph Sunday at the Yuengling Center. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
  7. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma brings his team to the Yuengling Center for the final time as an American Athletic Conference member today.
  8. USF coach Brian Gregory, pacing the sideline during a January game at the Yuengling Center, watched his team score only 11 first-half points in Saturday's 56-48 loss to Tulsa. [OCTAVIO JONES | TAMPA BAY TIMES]
  9. USF interim coach Jess Moore watches her team from the dugout on the opening day of the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational at Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater.
  10. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask (11) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second half of the Orange Bowl against Virginia on Dec. 30 in Miami Gardens.
  11. Bishop McLaughlin alumnus Carson Ragsdale, a clutch reliever for USF two seasons ago, returns after missing a season due to Tommy John surgery.
  12. Former USF quarterbacks B.J. Daniels, left, and Quinton Flowers, right, could square off when Seattle plays host to Tampa Bay in an XFL game Saturday.