While it’s not a conference title, much less the post season, today is about as big as it gets for USF’s rising program under Head Coach Willie Taggart.
Coming up at noon eastern, the 3-0 Bulls host #13 Florida State at Raymond James Stadium in what is the biggest home game in at least five years. The ‘Noles were humiliated and blown out 63-20 last Saturday at Louisville, but, they are a recent National Champion, the top program in the ACC year in and year out, and have been the standard of consistent great football in Florida for over 30 years.
So put that in the hopper, put 60,000 or more fans in RJS for a USF home game for the first time in years (even though 30,000 of them may be FSU Garnet and Gold) and put national TV on ABC in the mix and this is the moment for now, the Bulls and their rising coach.
Back to Taggart himself. He’s a former star QB first at Bradenton Manatee High School and then, at Western Kentucky. Later his coaching career took him to helm of his alma matter. And now he’s back to rebuild USF into a rising power. Two bad seasons ( 2-10 and 4-8) had Taggart in trouble but his great recruiting of the state of Florida and in specifically, QB Quinton Flowers and RB Marlon Mack helped turn the fortunes completely around.
A 1,400 yard season rushing from Mack and Flowers dynamic running and throwing for 34 combined TD’s helped USF win seven of its final eight games in 2015 and put them in a bowl game for the first time in 5 seasons. And, it got Taggart off the hot seat and 180 degrees turned around with a raise and contract extension in just two months!
So, now comes today. It’s Florida State Gameday. At home.
A win and the Bulls will likely land in the top 25.
And for Willie Taggart’s growing programs, this is their moment to show what they have and how far they’ve come.