Why USF’s Next Coaching Hire Is Critical

USF Has To Get This Hire Right

With the departure of Willie Taggart USF is left with a tough decision, who to hire as their next head coach.

Bulls fans remember when Jim Leavitt was let go and Skip Holtz was hired in his place. Holtz took over a young program that Leavitt had built from scratched.

Photo: DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Unfortunately Holtz was a costly mistake for the young football program. He was 16-21 at USF and 5-16 in Big East play. In his last season with the Bulls they went 3-9, which was their worst season in USF’s 16-year history at that time.

Holtz received a $2.5 million buyout over a five season period when he was let go. That’s a big buyout for a program that doesn’t have the kind of money Power Five schools have.

Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports

Now insert Willie Taggart into the mix and USF is facing the same dilemma they faced before. See Leavitt had driven the football program to a No. 2 ranking, an attendance record and a Big East Defensive Player of the Year. After three years of losing seasons and low attendance Taggart took over for Holtz to get the Bulls back on the grid.

And getting them back on the grid is exactly what Taggart did. He lead the Bulls to their first ever 10 win season and back to back bowl appearances. Attendance at games were starting to slowly rise and USF received its first Top 25 ranking since 2011.

So here is where it becomes critical for USF. Unlike Power Five schools, USF doesn’t have the money to erase a mistake hire. Take the University of Florida for example. When Urban Myers left and Will Muschamp was hired Jeremy Foley, UF’s athletic director, was able to use money to erase that mistake and bring in current head coach Jim McElwain.

This is why USF, being an AAC school, needs to make a good hire here. USF’s football program is on the verge of being the best its ever been. The team is stacked with talent and now it just needs a coach that can get the program to its fullest potential.

“I think the way we’ve performed and the way the country’s taken notice, I’m not surprised that people are looking at our coaches here and responding to the success that we’ve had,” Mark Harlan, USF athletic director, said to Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times. “Like I’ve said before, if your phone’s not ringing for your coaches, maybe you don’t have the right coaches.”

Well it’s time to find the next coach that’ll make your phone ring Harlan.

How A Good Hire Will Affect Recruiting

Taggart brought some of USF’s best recruiting classes in his four years with the school. Recruitment has been one of the big contributors to the Gulf Coast Offenses success this year.

In 2016 USF added two four-star recruits and 14 three-star recruits to its program. All but three of those recruits were from Florida.

In 2015 USF added 17 recruits, Ronnie Hoggins, Brett Kean and Mitchell Wilcox were among that recruiting class.

Then in 2014 USF saw some of their most important commits in Quinton Flowers, Marlon Mack and D’Ernest Johnson all of which were recruited by Taggart.

Photo: USF Athletics

With Taggart’s move some 2017 commits are unsure of their future. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Demetri Burch, a wide receiver from Apokpa, said Taggarts move could influence his decision and while he is still committed to USF he is also exploring his other options.

The newspaper reports that other commits, Bruce Judson Jr., a quarterback from Cocoa High, and Emare Hogan, a receiver from Orlando Dr. Phillips, are focusing on their state title games right now. Judson told the Sentinel he had been in contact with Taggart though and his (Judson’s) goal was to get Hogan and Burch to Oregon with him.

According to the Tampa Bay Times Jefferson OG Jean Marcellus and Orange Park Oakleaf CB Nick Roberts, both of whom are three-star prospects according to 247 Sports; Sarasota Booker DT Kelvin Pinkney Jr., a two-star prospect; and Tift County (Ga.) TE Frederick Lloyd have already reaffirmed their commitments.

With a good hire, USF might not have to worry about losing some of these commits though.

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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.