Kevin C. Cox
He may not be a name you know, but in part two of the series? Perhaps Willie Taggart is a coach you need to learn about.
Last night, after a day full of surprises, there was a report that Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart was in Madison interviewing for the suddenly vacant head coaching job.
Now I know what you're thinking. Western Kentucky? Weren't they terrible? Aren't they a basketball school? Wasn't Corey Hart born there? Doesn't Wisconsin deserve better?
I'm here to say, maybe Willie Taggart's just the right sort of better.
Overview: When Willie Taggart left Stanford to go to Western Kentucky, it seemed like a dead-end sort of move. Western Kentucky was the worst program in college football when he got there. In two years? He got them over .500. This year, Western Kentucky plays its first bowl game since the early 1960's, and its first since jumping into the FBS.
Why It Works: Before Andrew Luck, there was Toby Gerhart. The measty running back came out of nowhere to be an integral part of Jim Harbaugh becoming the successful head coach at Stanford. And who gets credit? Running backs coach Willie Taggart. And in a program like Wisconsin, there will be no question of personnel changes. He runs to win. And with the Badgers' standard? He could very well win a lot.
I mean Bobby Rainey and Antonio Andrews put up some massive numbers. If you imagine him getting to control a Melvin Gordon? It's not difficult to see him getting his name on one of those Doak Walker awards. Heisman? Yeah. You can see him get one of those.
And he's been a part of two programs gaining a foothold in college football. The Harbaughs may have brought him into coaching, but when you have a coach that managed a 14-3 stretch over the last two years where the three losses were a one-point loss to a very good Louisiana-Monroe, last year's LSU and this year's Alabama? He's a coach that's made his own bones.
There's a case for the offenses to be considered subpar. He did finish 71st in total offense last year. But that being said? In 2011, Western Kentucky was 89th. In 2010, he finished 98th. Also, in terms of yards per play, the offense was 43rd and managed over 6 yards per play.
There's also a comfort factor. The Red Drank Offensive Coordinator from 2011? One Zach Azzanni. He moved up a level and coached receivers this year. And Western Kentucky did have the 22nd ranked defense last season. The intriguing thing? Every other offense in the Sun Belt was a spread offense.
Give Lance Guidry this array of talent, and a bunch of stentorian offenses? Hoo boy. I am intrigued.
Why It Doesn't: There are rumors of him "cheating his ass off" to get his wins at Western Kentucky. That doesn't mean anything, because as we all know, the college football world is a dirty place. But the thing of it is? If he really is cheating his ass off, he's cheating his ass off to get to 7-5. That's not efficient.
In other Why This Doesn't Work Out News? Willie Taggart's a hot target for South Florida, and the ubiquitous sources have said he's more than happy to coach there. And while he's interviewed here, there's definitely a possibility that he's not going to wait for the Badgers to come to a decision.
My Opinion: A hire with tremendous upside potential. You'll definitely get a higher-star class of running back to give Madison a serious amount of consideration with the move. And he has a tradition of making programs better by him being a part of them.
Percentage Chance: Better than what the average fan would think. But he's less likely than I would hope. I'd say 7%.