Willie Taggart brought Western Kentucky University out of the abyss of FBS football when the Tops shocked all of college football and finished 2011 with a 7-5 record - all seven wins coming in (cough cough Sun Belt cough cough) conference play - and then one-upped their shock factor when they were snubbed out of a bowl birth.
Four years later, four bowl eligible seasons, two bowl games, one bowl victory and two head coaches later, the Hilltoppers are all of a sudden a perennial Group of Five power (okay maybe not that QUITE yet), the preseason (and still current) favorite to win Conference USA and have their eyes on a more high-profile bowl game than either the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl or the Bahama's Bowl and a different opponent - any opponent really - than Central Michigan.
Meanwhile, while WKU is enjoying all this sudden success, Willie T. has been undergoing another rebuild of sorts. Taggart missed out on the LCPB (WKU's first ever bowl appearance as an FBS program) because he took the South Florida job and went to work with this thing.
That is my favorite video in all of YouTube. And I forgot Joe Maddon was in there. Wow, how quickly things can change.
But, unfortunately, for a while Coach T. was driving the bus right off a cliff. Or right off of...er, right into...okay, I don't know what hazards there are in and/or around Tampa Bay. But Taggart wasn't finding success. In his first two seasons, the Bulls compiled a 6-18 overall record under the new head coach, and a 5-11 conference mark, but things have turned around in 2015.
Consecutive losses to Florida State, Maryland and Memphis after a season opening win against Florida A&M is how this past year started for Willie T. and company, but then, a three game winning streak happened somehow. Syracuse, UConn and SMU all fell to the Bulls, and if it weren't for Navy being insanely good for the first time in recent memory, we might very well be talking about a six game winning streak. But, five wins out of the last six will suffice. And the final of those wins? A 44-23 victory over a Top 25 Temple team yesterday.
The Bulls are rolling. The Tops are rolling. There's only one logical thing to do. Match these teams up in a bowl game.
Pretty please with a cherry on top?
There are two scheduled C-USA vs. AAC bowls in this year's schedule:
- Miami Beach Bowl (Monday, December 21)
- St. Petersburg Bowl (Saturday, December 26)
#1.) That'd be kind of awesome.
Just plain and simple.
#2.) From the Hilltopper perspective, it'd honestly be kind of weird.
I mean, this was the guy who refused to sit in a blue chair following the win over Kentucky in 2012. This was the guy who nearly single handedly changed the culture of WKU FBS football into a winning one. Sure, maybe it would have happened eventually, but it happened (at least began) under Taggart, and, I reiterate my first point, it'd just be weird.
WKU and USF finally came to an agreement on a home-and-home series in 2023 & 2024, but the odds of Taggart being involved with either school by then is slim to none. Lets get a decade-lasting prequel before hand, and see these two teams battle it out during bowl season.