Willie Taggart

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Willie Taggart
Sport(s) Football
Current position
Title Head coach
Team South Florida
Conference The American
Record 20–25
Annual salary $1 million
Biographical details
Born (1976-08-27) August 27, 1976 (age 40)
Bradenton, Florida
Alma mater Western Kentucky
Playing career
1994–1998 Western Kentucky
Position(s) Quarterback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1999 Western Kentucky (WR)
2000 Western Kentucky (QB)
2001–2002 Western Kentucky (Co-OC/QB)
2003–2006 Western Kentucky (AHC/QB)
2007–2009 Stanford (RB)
2010–2012 WKU
2013–present South Florida
Head coaching record
Overall 36–45
Bowls 0–1

Willie Taggart (born August 27, 1976) is a head college football coach at the University of South Florida (USF) and a former college football player. He took the position at USF in December 2012. Taggart previously served as head coach at Western Kentucky University (WKU) from 2009 to 2012, compiling a record of 16–20. He is the first African American head football coach at both institutions.[1]

Playing career[edit]

High school career[edit]

Taggart was a prep standout at Bradenton Manatee High School in Florida, where he was a first team all-state and all-conference selection as a senior after guiding the Hurricanes to the state 5A Championship game. He led MHS to the state title his junior season and helped the school post a 26–4 record during that two-year span, while recording more than 3,000 yards passing and 975 yards on the ground.

College career[edit]

Taggart then became a star quarterback for the WKU Hilltoppers from 1995 through 1998, being one of only three WKU players in the previous 50 years to be a four-year starter at the position and one of only four Hilltoppers players to have his jersey retired. In each of his last two collegiate seasons, he was a finalist for the prestigious Walter Payton Award, which is an honor given annually to the top offensive player in I-AA football. Taggart finished fourth in the balloting in 1997 and seventh as a senior the following year. An All-American as a senior, he was also the 1998 I-AA Independents’ Offensive Player of the Year. Taggart was recruited to WKU by Jim Harbaugh to play for his father, Jack Harbaugh.[2]

Coaching career[edit]

Western Kentucky[edit]

After graduating from WKU in 1998, he stayed on at the school as an assistant through 2006, notably serving as co-offensive coordinator under Jack Harbaugh on the Hilltoppers' 2002 Division I-AA national champions. Taggart also worked alongside Harbaugh's son Jim,[3] who had been an unpaid certified assistant coach under his father in the final years of his NFL career.


When Jim Harbaugh was named head coach of the Stanford Cardinal football team following the 2006 season, he hired Taggart as his running backs coach. Taggart served in that role for the next two seasons, notably developing Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman runner-up, Toby Gerhart, into a star during that time. The younger Harbaugh also gave Taggart responsibility for recruiting in Taggart's home state of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Riverside County, California.[3]

Back to Western Kentucky[edit]

In 2011 and 2012, Taggart led WKU to a bowl eligible record of 7–5. The Hilltoppers accepted an invitation to play Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl on December 26, 2012 on ESPN.[4]

South Florida[edit]

Early struggles[edit]

On December 7, 2012, Taggart took over as head coach at the University of South Florida in his native Tampa Bay area.[5] In his first season, Taggart led the Bulls to a disappointing 2 - 10 season. For the 2014 season, Taggart was able to double the amount of wins and finish with a record of 4 - 8. During the off-season, Taggart made several personnel changes, including replacing the Offensive and Defensive Coordinators. The change of schemes as well as the development of his first 2 recruiting classes provided the team with much needed energy and depth of positions.

Back to bowling[edit]

In 2015, Led by conference leaders QB Quinton Flowers and RB Marlon Mack, the Bulls started the season 1-3 before finishing the regular season with a much improved record of 8–5 and bowl eligibility for the first time in 5 years. The Bulls lost to WKU in the Miami Beach Bowl.

Personal life[edit]

Taggart and his wife Taneshia have three children including two sons (Willie Jr. and Jackson) and a daughter (Morgan).[6][7]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Sun Belt Conference) (2010–2012)
2010 WKU 2–10 2–6 9th
2011 WKU 7–5 7–1 2nd
2012 WKU 7–5 4–4 5th Little Caesars Pizza[n 1]
WKU: 16–20 13–11
South Florida Bulls (American Athletic Conference) (2013–present)
2013 South Florida 2–10 2–6 8th
2014 South Florida 4–8 3–5 7th
2015 South Florida 8–5 6–2 2nd (Eastern) L Miami Beach
2016 South Florida 6–2 3–1 (Eastern)
South Florida: 20–25 14–14
Total: 36–45
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


  1. ^ Taggart left for USF before the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was appointed as the team's interim head coach for the bowl game.


  1. ^ "Notable Kentucky African Americans – Taggart, Willie". Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Get To Know Willie Taggart « CBS Tampa". Tampa.cbslocal.com. 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  3. ^ a b "WKU Names Willie Taggart New Head Football Coach" (Press release). Western Kentucky University Department of Athletics. 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  4. ^ "WKU Football Accepts Invitation To Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, WillFace Central Michigan". Wbko.com. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  5. ^ "Willie Taggart Leaving WKU". Wbko.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  6. ^ "willie taggart jackson – Bing Images". Bing.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  7. ^ http://www.gousfbulls.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=7700&ATCLID=205822984

External links[edit]