USF's Taggart looks for turnaround after tough opening loss

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TAMPA - It is being considered one of the worst losses in USF's short history, but head coach Willie Taggart will not let the opening day loss to McNeese State define him, or his career.

The return of Manatee High's prodigal son Willie Taggart – who was a first-team all-state quarterback for the Hurricanes in the early 90’s -- did not go as planned when his Bulls lost to the 1AA opponent in his 1st game at the helm of USF. But each long journey starts with one small step.

"We want to build a football team that is going to sustain success and that is going to be a championship team. We are going to build it brick by brick by brick. I know there is going to bumps along the way. We have to keep our eyes on the prize," says Taggart.

Two years ago as head coach at Western Kentucky, he dug himself and his team out of a similar predicament when his Hilltoppers were beaten by lowly Indiana State. The Hilltoppers thrived after hitting bottom. “It was miserable; one of the worst days of my life. Been there before, so ya know I think I know better how to handle it now with our guys and understand that there are brighter days ahead."

This week it will only get tougher as the Bulls travel to Lansing, Michigan to take on Michigan State. “I am looking for guys who love football, want to show up, and want to show out. Hopefully our guys will be ready for that this week. Great opportunity for us! Great opportunity!!"

USF has now lost 10 of its last 11 games going back to the Skip Holtz era. The best thing about losing game #1 is that the only way to go is up, right?

"I have on my desk a sign that says "climbing is easier than hanging on." We are going to live by that, be by that. We are going to keep climbing out of this mess and make this place something special."