Western Kentucky football coach Willie Taggart has accepted the same job at South Florida, just weeks before the Hilltoppers’ first bowl appearance since becoming a member of college football’s top level in 2008, ESPN.com is reporting Friday night.
Taggart, a Florida native, has coached the Hilltoppers for three season. Western Kentucky was winless the season before he arrived and won just two games his first season.
This year, the team finished with its second consecutive 7-5 record. The Hilltoppers will play on Dec. 26 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, Mich.
Taggart was a quarterback for the Hilltoppers in the 1990s and an assistant coach in 2002 when the team won the Division I-AA national championship. Between his stints at Western, Taggart was an assistant coach under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.
South Florida fired coach Skip Holtz after three season.
Speculation had risen through the week that South Florida — a member of the Big East Conference — was interested in Taggart.
The Bowling Green Daily News noted a vast difference in Taggart’s salary at Western Kentucky and Holtz’s salary at South Florida:
Taggart’s current contract gave him a base salary of $475,000 whereas Holtz was making $2 million per year. The Daily News learned last month that a local campaign to raise an undisclosed amount of private funds to keep Taggart was under way. It’s unknown at this time if that package was ever presented to Taggart.