Well, that came out of nowhere.
South Florida defensive coordinator Tom Allen will reportedly accept the same position at Indiana after one season at the helm in Tampa. The school announced on Saturday that longtime Taggart assistant Raymond Woodie will be promoted from within to fill the spot.
"Tom notified me Friday that he had accepted an offer to become defensive coordinator at another program," Taggart said. "We thank Tom for the energy and contributions he brought to our program over the last year and we wish him well as he continues his career."
What USF Will Miss With Allen
Helping architect Ole Miss' "Land Shark" 4-2-5 defense as LB coach and having previous coaching experience at nearby powerhouse Armwood High School, Allen's hire in December of 2014 was universally praised when Taggart brought him on staff to replace Chuck Bresnahan as defensive coordinator.
The energy and enthusiasm he brought at the opening of spring practice translated onto the field for the Bulls into 2015, as the players bought into his scheme that fit into their skill-sets of playing at a fast pace while flying towards the football, and wreaking havoc in the form of tackles for losses and turnovers. Their 65-27 late-season dismantling of Cincinnati served as the peak of how scary good the unit could be when firing on all-cylinders.
Within the newly dubbed "Bull Shark" defense, USF dramatically improved from 96th to 46th in Defensive S&P+ in 2015. Their knack for sniffing out runs, creating pressure the line of scrimmage, and getting into the backfield early and often was evident throughout the season as the Bulls ranked the 13th best TFL defense in the nation with averaging 7.5 per game.
The defense under Allen elevated the roles of several key players, including East-West Shrine Game participant Jamie Byrd, who at the Husky (safety) position could be utilized all over the field in a variety of different assignments. Redshirt sophomore linebaker Auggie Sanchez emerged as the leader of the defense, recording a team high 117 tackles while defensive end Eric Lee and cornerback Deatrick Nichols each All-AAC honors.
What Raymond Woodie Brings To The Table
"It didn't take long to identify Coach Woodie as the right person to lead our defense," Taggart said. "He has done a great job developing a strong linebacker unit over the past three years and his positive impact on our special teams was very evident last year. Woodie has tremendously strong relationships with our players, great knowledge of our system and is well prepared to lead our defense."
It would be an understatement to say that this was well deserved for the defensive assistant.
A former I-AA All-American as an outside linebacker for Bethune Cookman in the early 90's, Woodie had head coaching experience at Tampa Area local high schools Bayshore and Palmetto before joining Taggart's Western Kentucky's staff in 2010.
At both WKU and USF, Woodie has garnered a reputation for being an excellent recruiter, being named Scout/FoxSports.com Sun Belt Recruiter of the Year in 2012 and Rivals AAC Recruiter of the Year in 2014.
His success at developing players is also appaerent, producing six All-Sun Belt players while with the Hilltoppers, including 2012 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Quantarus Smith. At USF, he helped guide LB DeDe Lattimore to second team all-AAC honors in 2013 and an eventual roster spot on the Chicago Bears.
With Tom Allen previously flirting with Auburn last month, Willie Taggart more than likely had Woodie's promotion in his back pocket just in case the highly beloved defensive coordinator did decide to leave.
It remains to be seen whether or not Woodie will decide to continue along with Allen's 4-2-5 or continue on with his own scheme. But for the sake of National Signing Day being just over two weeks away, it was critical for the USF staff to have a semblance of continuity going as they trudge forward and there was no better guy to fill that role this late into the coaching carousel.