South Florida coach Willie Taggart comes into this year’s Birmingham Bowl against South Carolina as a hot coaching name.
He wasn’t quite as high-profile last season, but there was buzz, and it was enough to get a conversation with Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner during South Carolina’s coaching search.
“We had a discussion,” Tanner said Sunday when asked if he interviewed Taggart. “We talked to coach Taggart. He’s a very successful coach, 10-2 right now.
“His name is being bantered about right now in some other jobs, but he’s an outstanding person and an outstanding coach.”
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Taggart’s name has been linked to the Oregon opening after turning around a Bulls program that hit the skids after three years under the leadership of former Gamecocks assistant Skip Holtz.
When Taggart and Tanner talked last year, Taggart had moved from the hot seat, following a 6-18 record in his first two years and a 1-3 start in 2015, to a candidate for bigger jobs with a 7-1 finish. This year, the Bulls have one of the top offenses in the country.
Taggart is a former Jim Harbaugh assistant. He’s from Florida and played for Harbaugh’s father, Jack, at Western Kentucky.
Last year, when Taggart was just a coach with promise, who had surged off the hot season, Tanner saw something simple that made him worth talking to.
“Success,” Tanner said. “He’s a guy that I think runs a great program. He’s been very successful.”