Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - The University of South Florida has hired Western
Kentucky's Willie Taggart as its new head football coach.
Taggart coached WKU to a record of 16-20 over the previous three seasons,
including a 7-5 mark this year. The Hilltoppers will play Central Michigan
in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26.
Western Kentucky director of athletics Todd Stewart announced that defensive
coordinator Lance Guidry will take over as the interim head coach and will
lead the Hilltoppers in the bowl game.
"Obviously, we are very disappointed that Coach Taggart will no longer be our
head football coach," Stewart said. "He did a tremendous job for WKU -
inheriting a program with a 20-game losing streak before posting back to back
7-5 records in his second and third seasons. We had a landmark win in
Lexington over the University of Kentucky, and we were the only Sun Belt
Conference school to defeat Arkansas State. And, as everyone knows, this past
Sunday our program earned our first ever bowl appearance as a Football Bowl
This marks a return to the Tampa area for Taggart. A former quarterback
at WKU, Taggart was a prep standout at Manatee High School in Bradenton.
Prior to his time at WKU, Taggart was the running backs coach at Stanford from
2007-09. He also spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at WKU from
Taggart replaces Skip Holtz, who was fired last Sunday. The Bulls completed
the 2012 campaign, their third under Holtz's direction, with a 3-9 record.
South Florida went just 5-16 in Big East play and 16-21 overall during Holtz's
tenure, which began in January of 2010 after the university hired the 48-year-
old following a successful five-year stint with East Carolina.
"I always said I wouldn't leave WKU unless I had a chance to go and win a
national championship, and I truly believe that can be done here," Taggart
said. "It wasn't long ago USF was No. 2 in the country. It's been proven that
we can get there. What we have to do now is put everybody on the bus, put 'em
in the right seat and let coach T drive this bus!"
The Sports Network