The USF football program and fan base is still trying to sort out the situation this afternoon with news of former head coach Willie Taggart leaving to take the same job at Oregon.
Since the news broke early this morning, players have taken to Twitter to voice support for Taggart’s decision, help with the replacement search and voice other opinions.
In addition, at his weekly press conference, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston said he respects Taggart’s move to the west coast.
“I’m so happy to see his journey as a head coach, continuing to grow,” Winston said of Taggart. “Him being a St. Pete native, I know his family is happy for him going out there to Oregon.
“We’re gonna miss him here with the Bulls, but I think he he’s done some great things with the offense and good luck to him in the near future.”
Winston wasn’t the only one giving thanks to the 40-year-old coach who took USF from a 2-10 bottom feeder and turned them into an AAC contender on the verge of its 11th win of the season.
“Nothing but love for this man,” junior safety Devin Abraham tweeted with a picture of him and Taggart. “He brought a group of guys together and made us believe.”
There were reports of players not being informed of Taggart’s departure early this morning. Some players weren’t sure if it was a done deal yet, but respected the move nonetheless.
Backup quarterback Brett Kean thanked Taggart for what he did and also pushed for USF to keep some of the assistants around after he’s gone.
“If it is true, just want to say thank you for everything @CoachTaggart … really hope USF keeps some of these coaches around,” Kean wrote.
Not all were overly positive about the situation though. Although it didn’t seem like he opposed the decision, junior receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling understands it’s just a business.
“You know I'm not trippin,” Valdes-Scantling tweeted. “Treat it like it is everyday. College football is temporary. Get it while you can. That's all he did.”
Now that the dust begins to settle, candidates begin to emerge with ESPN’s Brent McMurphy reporting that Ohio State offensive coordinator Greg Schiano and Florida State co-offensive coordinator Lawrence Dawsey are the frontrunners.
The latter is one Winston knows well and sees as a great fit for USF.
“If coach Dawsey came to Tampa, I think it would be a great thing for them just because of his passion for this game,” said Winston, who played under Dawsey at FSU. “Working with him at Florida State and how involved he was with not only his position group, but with the whole offense.
“He’s played here with the Bucs and his family is down here so I think he’ll love the opportunity.”