2016 Purdue Football Coaching Search: Willie Taggart
Candidate Tier #2
Category: Intriguing Possibilities, Not Quite Favorites But Still Pretty Favorite
Who Is He?
Wilson Amadeus Taggart (maybe, who knows, that could actually be his full name) is the 40 year old head coach at the University of South Florida. He’s in the midst of an impressive turnaround of USF’s program after Skip Holtz’ tenure, starting in 2013 and going 2-10, 4-8, 8-5, and starting this year 6-1 (with its only loss to FSU).
Taggart played quarterback at Western Kentucky University, and was an assistant at WKU for eight seasons and a Stanford assistant for three seasons, before landing the head coaching job at WKU. He inherited a really miserable situation at WKU, and led the football program during what ended up being quite a tumultuous time for the WKU athletic department.
Willie Taggart was actually a Boiled Sports-identified candidate for Purdue’s coaching job in 2012, and it turns out he was much more available than we all thought. He left WKU that year, and went to a seemingly bad situation at USF that was well outside his comfort zone.
But recruiting challenges be damned, Taggart has proven he’s a very impressive young coach that should be considered for every lower-level Power 5 job in the country. Purdue, yup, fits that bill.
Why would he be successful at Purdue?
He’s got head coaching experience, he was an assistant under both Jack and Jim Harbaugh, he’s legitimately rebuilt the program at USF, and has extensive Midwest recruiting connections.
Purdue is looking for someone to execute a rebuilt, and Taggart has done that successfully…twice. How many others on our list can say that? Honestly, if Purdue were looking for an interesting, young, innovative candidate, Willie Taggart would be my preferred choice.
Recruiting is Taggart’s calling card, one of the major shortcomings of the Darrell Hazell era. Grabbing a recruiter is the safest way to rebuild a program; if the wins still aren’t there after four years, at least the locker room will be full of talented players.
USF transitioned to a “Gulf Coast” offensive style, full of quick zone-read decisions that triggered staggering offensive statistics that would be tremendous for any school at any level: 2290 passing yards (22 TDs on 8 INTs) for starting QB Quinton Flowers, and 3205 total rushing yards (991 for Flowers).
My point being that Taggart’s offenses are tremendous, and has been compared favorably to Baylor’s system under Briles. It’s only a matter of time before Taggart gets a Power 5 nod, so why not make it a return to the Midwest?
Why could he flop at Purdue?
I mean…Danny Hope was his OC for that record setting 2015 year, and then left under weird circumstances. And I tend to be leery of all weird situations involving Danny Hope.
Would he come to Purdue?
Taggart got an extension after last season, making $1.7M per year and inked through the 2020 season, with an assistant coaching budget of $2.4M and a $1.7M buyout. It’s not a cheap price, but if Taggart is the caliber of coach I think he is, the money is completely worth it.
USF is a unique opportunity for rising coaches, much like the one Western Kentucky has reestablished itself as. USF had a chance at a Big 12 bid, but those dreams were dashed last week, giving Power 5 coaching vacancies eyeing Taggart a little hope that he might leap at the chance for a bigger stage.
Purdue and Kentucky would make for great Taggart destinations, and the time could be right for him to make his next move. If Mike Bobinski wants to make a solid hire, with a perfect balance of a high-floor certainty and excitement, Taggart would be a wonderful choice.