TAMPA – The rumor mill is already churning out a long list of prospective candidates for the USF head coaching job that suddenly opened up today when Willie Taggart took a step up and accepted the Oregon job. Several of those being mentioned as successors have ties to Tampa.
Lane Kiffin, the son of former Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, former Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano and Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck, a former Bucs receivers coach under Schiano are among those believed to be expressing interest in the job.
Obviously, it’s way too soon to know who the new coach will be. One thing we do know for sure, though, is that much like Taggart, whoever does wind up taking the job won’t be in it for very long.
USF has become to head football coaches what the Rays are to young three-, four-, and five-tool baseball prospects: a place to establish yourself before moving on and cashing in big time.
Let’s face it folks, USF and its exciting offense may have worked its way into the Top 25 this year, but it is still nothing more than a stepping stone program, and Taggart’s salary proves it.
Even after getting a raise, Taggart’s salary at USF topped out at $1.7 million this past season. That’s just not enough to attract top-level coaches. Yet several appear to be interested in the job.
Why? That’s simple. Like Taggart, any coach that can come to Tampa and makes USF relevant, even on a regional basis, can expect to eventually be rewarded for his success the same way Taggart has been.
That’s just what USF is right now, which leaves USF in a rather interesting situation moving forward. Does it go for an established “name’’ coach or a someone still on the rise? One thing is for sure, the Bulls will like have to step up the salary offer to at least $2 million or more per year for the names above.
They appear to have plenty of options either way. Even former Texas coach Charlie Strong has been mentioned as a candidate, as has Mario Cristobal, the former FIU coach who is now an assistant at Alabama.
Obviously some tough decisions lie ahead for USF, which understands its place in the coaching marketplace. The question is, is USF ready to take the steps necessary to change that place.