Taggart’s third try must be a charm

Coach Willie Taggart has gone 6-18 in his first two seasons with USF. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

USF and coach Willie Taggart ended the 2014 season in one of the most disastrous ways possible Friday, when the Bulls were held scoreless against UCF in a 16-0 loss at Raymond James Stadium.

Following Friday’s game, fans wrote several Tweets with the quickly spreading hashtag #FireTaggart. 

But despite a lack of satisfaction with no bowl game appearance and only six wins in two years under Taggart, Athletic Director Mark Harlan put any questions of Taggart’s job security to rest shortly after the Bulls’ final game.

“Coach Taggart is fine,” Harlan said to reporters. “We’re going to work together to move this thing forward.”

Harlan can’t justify firing Taggart yet due to the fact USF has been paying former coaches Jim Leavitt and Skip Holtz for years after they were fired before their contracts were up and he doesn’t need another coach added to that list. 

But the clock is ticking for Taggart as he approaches his third season — as many as Holtz was afforded before he was let go. 

Holtz won 16 games in his time with the Bulls and won the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Clemson in his first season. 

Taggart had more of an uphill battle when he replaced Holtz, as the team was clearly regressing, but a third straight losing season under Taggart shouldn’t be acceptable
for USF.

In his third season, Taggart will have a roster mostly comprised of players he recruited. The Bulls’ 2014 recruiting class, Taggart’s first full class, was ranked 40th by
Rivals.com. There is no excuse for anything short of a six-win season in 2015. 

An example of not following through with expectations can be seen with Tulsa’s football program, which fired coach Bill Blankenship on Monday.

While Blankenship led the Golden Hurricane to a 19-8 record in his first two seasons, including two bowl game appearances and a Conference-USA championship in 2012, the coach was let go because of his inability to sustain success and win in a new conference. 

Taggart is in a different situation, trying to make up for Holtz’s poor recruiting on the job and inheriting the fans’ dwindling patience after Holtz’s last two losing seasons. 

However, a program such as USF, which went to six straight bowl games from 2005-2010 and has been ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, should have higher expectations and standards than a program like Tulsa.

Despite the calls for his job on social media, Taggart said he believes the team is moving in the right direction.

“We’re moving forward,” Taggart said. “If you just look at where we were and you look at what we’re doing now with a young football team, again, some of those things happen. You see a lot of inconsistencies when you have a young football team, but by no means is four enough. I want to give everybody what they want, but that’s going to come by

Taggart has preached a blue-collar mentality since he joined USF in December of 2012, but this hard work must deliver a winning season, or else Taggart will be hard at work finding a new place to coach.