Two weeks ago, USF and head coach Willie Taggart agreed in principle on a five-year extension to keep him in Tampa through the 2020 season. On Monday morning, that deal was finalized: Taggart has received a five-year, $9 million deal after a successful 2015 campaign.
USF officially announces Willie Taggart’s 5-year, $9 million deal thru 2020
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 21, 2015
“We had a vision of what we could create at USF and I would like to thank the players, coaches and staff who believed in that vision and who came together to make it a reality,” Taggart said in a statement. “…We appreciate the Bulls fans, students and alumni who have taken Bulls Nation to places it has never been before. We are just getting started.”
USF (8-4, 6-2 American) has won seven of eight and currently rides a four-game winning streak entering today’s Miami Beach Bowl matchup with Conference USA champion Western Kentucky — the school Taggart left to join the Bulls a few years ago.
“We are very excited about the direction of our football program and the leadership, vision and enthusiasm that Coach Taggart has provided,” said Mark Harlan, USF’s athletics director. “I’ve been so impressed with how he has created a winning culture in the classroom, in the community and on the field and he has never waivered from his belief in what he is building. This extension is well-earned and well-deserved.”
Taggart entered 2015 on the hot seat after record six wins in his first two years combined, but taking the program to its first winning season since 2010 in Year 3 was enough evidence for Harlan to know that things are going in the right direction.
The 39-year-old Bradenton (FL) native went 16-20 in three seasons with Western Kentucky (2010-12) and holds a 14-22 record with USF heading into the bowl game.
USF and the Hilltoppers are scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. ET, and the game can be viewed on ESPN.