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http://www.campusrush.com/derrick-henry-leonard-fournette-ezekiel-elliott-year-of-running-back-1458243828.html

 

Coach Willie Taggart has found right combination at USF

When Willie Taggart became South Florida's coach nearly three years ago, others told him he needed to hire a staff of bigger-name assistants. "I was told I needed to do this, I needed to do that," Taggart tells The Inside Read. "I always said I was going to do it my way, but I went against my own word."

The result for Taggart was a rocky 6-18 record in his first two seasons. So with Taggart's job admittedly on the line this year, he reshuffled his staff in the off-season. He hired five new assistants, but this time they were coaches he was comfortable with—defensive coordinator Tom Allen, tight ends coach David Gilbertson, defensive backs Alonzo Hampton, co-offensive coordinator Danny Hope and running backs coach Donte Pimpleton.

"For what we had to rebuild here, we needed energy-givers, not energy-takers, to get it turned around," Taggart says.

The moves have worked this season with Taggart and his youthful team now bowl eligible after its surprising 44-23 home rout of No. 22 Temple on Saturday night. It's the biggest triumph of Taggart's tenure with the Bulls. South Florida (6-4, 4-2 ACC) is still alive for the AAC's East Division title entering Friday night's game against Cincinnati (6-4, 3-3).

"They're all guys that wanted to be here," Taggart says of his coaching staff. "The new guys didn't have to come knowing the situation. If we didn't win this season, I wasn't going to be here anymore, but they wanted to be here and be a part of that. That was important to me and says a lot about them."

Some of Taggart's new hires were old faces. Hampton and Pimpleton had worked respectively as defensive backs coach and an offensive quality control assistant with Taggart in his previous job as Western Kentucky's coach. Allen had been Mississippi's linebackers coach and came at the recommendation of Taggart's good friend, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze. Under Allen, South Florida is 34th in the FBS in scoring defense per game (22.3 points), a jump of 31 spots from last season. "He's been a big-time hire for us," Taggart says of Allen.

Hope, the former Purdue coach, knew more about Taggart than vice versa. Hope had been Eastern Kentucky's coach when Taggart was an assistant at Western Kentucky. But Hope had coached with Taggart's former high school coach, Joe Kinnan, who Taggart brought on in February as a senior offensive analyst.

"What was important was to get guys that care about our players, not just themselves," Taggart says. "That's paid off big time."

Many of Taggart's best players are still young and had to play as true freshmen because of the lack of talented upperclassmen when he took over. It's group led by sophomore Marlon Mack the AAC's reigning Rookie of the Year, and starting dual-threat sophomore quarterback Quinton Flowers.

Mack leads the AAC with 1,065 rushing yards and also has six touchdowns on 164 carries, while Flowers has thrown for 1,676 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions this season to go with 747 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 151 carries.

Taggart is excited for next season when transfer wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (North Carolina State), linebacker Cecil Cherry (Texas) and quarterback Asiantii Woulard (UCLA) are all eligible after sitting out this season.

"We're just getting started," Taggart says. "The future is so bright. What we're doing now is just setting it up for us in the future."

And Taggart has way loftier expectations than his team's coming bowl appearance, which will be the Bulls' first since 2010.

"We want to multiple championships in a first-class manner," Taggart says. "That's what we're trying to build here. We want to be able to recruit big-time players and now that we're winning, we really can. We did a good job recruiting before considering our record."

South Florida's three previous recruiting classes under Taggart were each the best in the AAC. But on Sunday morning when Taggart met with coaching staff, he took time to live in the moment of what they have accomplished so far this season.

"I told them how proud I was of all of them," Taggart says. "How I appreciated every single one of them. I don't probably tell them that enough."

Taggart intends to do that more. Just like he's going to continue to stay true to himself.

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Wow.. this quote says it all:

"They're all guys that wanted to be here," Taggart says of his coaching staff. "The new guys didn't have to come knowing the situation. If we didn't win this season, I wasn't going to be here anymore, but they wanted to be here and be a part of that. That was important to me and says a lot about them."

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Wow.. this quote says it all:

"They're all guys that wanted to be here," Taggart says of his coaching staff. "The new guys didn't have to come knowing the situation. If we didn't win this season, I wasn't going to be here anymore, but they wanted to be here and be a part of that. That was important to me and says a lot about them."

Yep, and I appreciate the honesty and understanding shown by Taggart in that statement, knowing it was win or be gone.  

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Cool write-up.  Rookie mistake on CWT's part to listen to others tell him who to hire.  Glad he got that straightened out and the combination of coaches seems to be solid for USF football.  

Great article, and I'm glad the ship is seemingly righted.  

But I don't know that I buy that.  Who was telling him who to hire?  We know Woolard wasn't interested enough in what was going on to tell him what to do.  So who was he listening to?

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