August 27, 1976 |
|Alma mater||Western Kentucky|
|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)|
|Head coaching record|
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.
High School Career
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.
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.
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, 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.
Back to Western Kentucky
On December 7, 2012, Taggart took over as head coach at the University of South Florida in his native Tampa Bay area. His debut there was marred by a 53–21 loss to lower division (FCS) McNeese State, which marked the worst margin of defeat by an upper division (FBS) team to an FCS team since Division I was split into FBS and FCS in 1978. This mark stood until 2015 when North Texas lost to FCS Portland State 66-7. 
Taggart and his wife Taneshia have two sons, Willie Jr. and Jackson.
Head coaching record
|Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Sun Belt Conference) (2010–2012)|
|2012||WKU||7–5||4–4||5th||Little Caesars Pizza[n 1]|
|USF Bulls (American Athletic Conference) (2013–present)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
- 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.
- "Notable Kentucky African Americans – Taggart, Willie". Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "Get To Know Willie Taggart « CBS Tampa". Tampa.cbslocal.com. 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "WKU Names Willie Taggart New Head Football Coach" (Press release). Western Kentucky University Department of Athletics. 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
- "WKU Football Accepts Invitation To Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, WillFace Central Michigan". Wbko.com. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- "Willie Taggart Leaving WKU". Wbko.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- Greg Auman, McNeese State ranks among USF Bulls' worst losses, Tampa Bay Times, August 31, 2013, accessed September 3, 2013.
- "willie taggart jackson – Bing Images". Bing.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.