On Monday, Coach Taggart made a big change to his coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, offensive coordinator Paul Wulff, and defensive back coach Ron Cooper were all relieved of their duties, leaving 3 big job openings on Coach Taggart’s staff. As the search begins for their replacements, here are some of my thoughts on the entire situation.
To start, I had a hunch that changes were coming. After another losing season, changes had to be expected. Chuck Bresnahan’s unit took a step back this year and struggled with the new 3-4 scheme. Paul Wulff was in his first year, but there was no sign that the offense was improving. Ron Cooper had been a solid coach on the staff, but I would have to imagine Coach Taggart wanted change, leading to his departure. So now the Bulls will have to find a new defensive coordinator, their 3rd offensive coordinator in 3 years, and a new defensive back coach that was known for recruiting. This isn’t good with under 50 days before national signing day.
Changes were needed after another bad year, but will new coordinators make all the difference and who can USF get? Let’s start on defense. The unit moved to a 3-4 this year and regressed compared to the 2013 season. More yards, first downs, and touchdowns were given up this year compared to the year before. There were a lot of factors for this decline, but at the end of the day, Bresnahan became the man to take the blame and Taggart made the move. Where will the Bulls look? They could promote from within. A coach like Raymond Woodie (purely my speculation, not a rumor, just an idea) could be a move Coach Taggart could make. Most likely though he will go outside of Tampa and try to make a higher. Would he get a coach with a lot of experience (like Bresnahan) or would he get an up and coming coordinator? That is a huge question moving forward. The other question, whoever they hire, will be do they stick with the 3-4 or move back to the 4-3? As for coach Cooper’s departure, USF will most likely have to go outside of the area to find the next coach. I would have to believe it would be another rising coach at another program that would be the primary choice. Coach Taggart would probably want someone with recruiting success and even prior ties to his old WKU, Harbaugh/Stanford background (pure speculation) if he had his way. It will be interesting to see where he looks.
Which leads us to the offense and the questions that swirl with the coordinator position. This will be the third new coordinator in just three years for Coach Taggart. Walt Wells was fired after one year and Paul Wulff had the same amount of time before he was let go. How much of the play calling did Wulff actually have during the year? That is not known fully and it seems Taggart over more duties as the year went on. Whoever the Bulls hire, it will be interesting to see what kind of background they have and how much input they will have on the offense. USF has stuck with the west coast/power running system and has recruited the players to run the system for two years now, will they continue that trend? When they bring in a new coach, what will their background be? Will Taggart want a coach that has a background in the same system or someone from a spread system? Will this new coordinator take over playcalling or will Taggart continue to take that over? And then if the Bulls do bring in a spread system coordinator, how much (if any) influence and decision making will they have on the offense? These are some the big questions surrounding the coordinator search and will be real interesting to watch moving forward. Coach Taggart really needs to land this hire if the offense is ever going to improve.
Then there are the two biggest questions that many are asking. One, how much money will Taggart have to spend on these coordinators? I think its clear whoever he goes after won’t be huge names from the big programs (we aren’t getting Kirby Smart from Alabama for example). Then the biggest question in general is who can USF really target for these openings? Let’s be really honest, Coach Taggart’s seat might be a little warm with a new athletic director in charge and one that has shown he isn’t afraid to make a move and fire a coach. Josh Newberg of 247 Sports put out an interesting bit of information on this topic.
I’m being told that if things don’t get turned around at USF next season, look for one of these hires at OC or DC to possibly get that job.
— Josh Newberg (@joshnewberg247) December 8, 2014
If this is the case (just Newberg citing a source), it means two things for the coordinator search. One, who would want to come to USF if there could be a major change with Taggart gone if the 2015 season is bad? It wouldn’t sound a like a great deal if there could be firings after a bad year (especially for a veteran coach). It could also mean the Bulls would be targeting a young, rising coach to join the staff. I would imagine the Bulls would be looking at assistant coaches for probably both coordinator spots, leading to a lot of interesting names (if what Newberg says is a reality moving forward).
So, as it stands, USF has 3 openings on the roster with less than 3 months to go before signing day. Let’s hope Taggart nails these hires, the program’s fate is riding on it.