clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

It took patience, but now Willie Taggart's South Florida rebuild is well on track

In a chat with SB Nation's Bill Connelly and Steven Godfrey, the USF boss sheds light on rebuilding programs and explains his appreciation for satellite camps.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Willie Taggart knows a little something about rebuilds.

The South Florida head coach built his name on a three-year stint that turned Western Kentucky from a 2-10 team into a consistent postseason presence. After a rocky start in Tampa, the Bulls are beginning to feel the Taggart effect as well.

The 39-year-old coach has doubled his victories in each of the past two seasons after starting his South Florida career with a two-win campaign. Despite grumblings about the Bulls potentially firing him in 2015, he pushed his team to an eight-win season and now stands as the favorite to win the AAC East.

While Taggart's USF turnaround may have taken a bit longer than it did at his alma mater, there's a good reason for that. He explained his plea for patience at The American's conference media days this week, in an interview with SB Nation's Bill Connelly and Steven Godfrey. You can listen to that here, or below from 22:15

Taggart played and coached at Western Kentucky, so he came to the USF job with a good base of knowledge about how this kind of thing works. His WKU rebuild went from two wins to seven from Year 1 to Year 2, but USF needed more time: from 2-10 to 4-8, then to 8-5 last year.

"You knew the ins and outs," Taggart said. "You knew the struggles, You knew the things you could build off of. I'm from Florida -- I grew up about 45 minutes away from Tampa -- but I didn't know the administration and didn't know much about the inside part of it. I had to learn that when I got there. So that part was different, and the fan base. All those things you had to get accustomed to, and I think that's another reason why it took a little longer than it did at Western."

Taggart's hallmark at South Florida has been his recruiting, where the Bulls have consistently been a leader among Group of 5 teams.

With one of the nation's most fertile grounds for high school talent in his backyard, it wouldn't be a surprise if Taggart were opposed to seeing out-of-state coaches in town to host satellite camps -- the half-clinic, half-recruiting road shows the NCAA banned and then reinstated this spring.

Instead, the 1998 I-AA Independents Offensive Player of the Year sees those events as an excellent tool for players who may not be able to afford recruiting trips outside of their home regions. He's got a unique perspective on this, as a talented prospect from Florida who didn't come from much. He says the camps are "great for those young men" today.

"They're all trying to change their lives as well," Taggart said. "A lot of them don't have the finances to go places, and for schools to be able to go around and come to them, I think it's awesome for the young people. Everyone talks about recruiting and all; that's part of it. Everything changes. Change is the only constant we all have. That's all you're seeing: just recruiting changing a little bit from what it's always been. We can't always be what we always were."