Needless to say. Not everyone was heartbroken to see former USF/new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart depart. And, one of the premiere high school coaches in the Tampa Bay area used the occasion of mega coverage with National Signing Day to go “nuclear” on the former Bulls honcho.
Hillsborough High coach Earl Garcia, the 2nd winningest high school coach in Hillsborough (Tampa) County history decided Wednesday to blast Taggart and specifically, for his lack of relationship over the last four years with the area coaches.
“USF football has gone from a KIA to a Cadillac,” Garcia told the Tampa Bay Times at the presser for his Hillsborough High School signees. “Willie Taggart had absolutely no relationship with local coaches, and Charlie Strong has already shown us that he is interested in the area,” he continued. “We never saw Taggart. He did not communicate with us. He alienated a whole bunch of people.”
Now, in fairness, Taggart must have had some kind of relationship with some of the players and thereby, their coaches, because he repeatedly kept high schoolers from the Tampa Bay area home.
Some proof of that is in USF’s announced 2017 class Wednesday. Seven of them are from Bay Area high schools (this includes Taggart’s home area of Sarasota/Bradenton) and it’s foolish that all of them came to the Bulls with their coach despising the situation and their choice.
However, we also detailed last week that Taggart pilfered the top QB in the state in Cocoa High School’s Bruce Judson from the the USF 2017 class to follow him to Oregon. And he took two other big time USF “verbal commits” and flipped them to Oregon with him too.
Taggart was obviously all smiles in Eugene on Wednesday with Ducks NSD:
— GoDucks (@GoDucks) February 1, 2017
It’s all part of the recruiting wars for high school starts, especially in this state.
And in the case of Hillsborough’s Duran Bell, an explosive running back/receiver, he had been wavering about USF with Taggart there, until he got reassured recently by new boss Charlie Strong.
“I felt great about playing for Coach Strong,” Bell told the Times after he signed with USF on Wednesday. “I feel great now.Again, in fairness to Taggart both former USF coaches Skip Holtz and Jim Leavitt (at the end of his tenure) were also previously criticized by Tampa Bay area coaches for not having enough time and communication with them and their players.
But no one with Garcia’s clout has gone on the record like this. If Strong does in fact have the better relations with the Tampa Bay coaches from years as a Gators assistant, Louisville head coach, etc., then it will be to USF’s benefit big time.
Then again, we at F.F.I. know that just like any other hot bed of recruiting in Florida, if Strong doesn’t pay enough attention, they will complain….but likely in private.