USF coaching search: Dick Vitale endorses Willie Taggart

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Willie Taggart has recently gotten several high-profile endorsements as a candidate for the South Florida coaching position.

As South Florida continues its search for a new head football coach, one candidate -- Willie Taggart -- got a unique endorsement from Dick Vitale. Vitale tweeted out to his 400,000+ followers, "He played HS football in my area at MANATEE HS # 1 in USA - Would be a great hire 4 USF-WILLIE TAGGART is a natural . Willie is a WINNER!"

When he was in high school, Taggart quarterbacked Manatee High to a state title and a state final under legendary coach Joe Kinnan. Coach Kinnan also gave his ringing endorsement:

"I think he would be a great fit. He has a tremendous demeanor, a very charismatic person. I've never heard anybody say a negative word ever about Willie Taggart."

Kinnan confirmed with Tampa Bay Times that he had been contacted by USF to serve as a reference. Taggart interviewed for the position earlier this week. He also interviewed at Wisconsin.

Taggart's coaching resume at Western Kentucky speaks to his ability. Taggart inherited a team that was 0-12 in 2009. By 2011, the Hilltoppers were 7-5. Taggart is also considered a good choice because he could help recruit players from Manatee County, where he still has strong connections.

Taggart also got a recommendation from Jim Harbaugh, who said "Any football program would be very lucky to have Willie Taggart as their head coach." Taggart was a key assistant coach at Stanford, where Harbaugh took a struggling team and turned it around.

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