Appreciate former Western Kentucky football coach Willie Taggart giving me a call Monday morning. Here’s what he had to say about leaving WKU for the University of South Florida.
The decision to leave: “I just thought from a career standpoint I thought it was a better opportunity for me for what I’m trying to do from a career standpoint.
“You have all the resources, you have a great recruiting base. I think you can win here. I think you can win big here because of those things.”
Was it about the money? “It wasn’t about the money at all. I was getting paid pretty well at Western and didn’t have any issues. If it was about the money I would’ve left last year. People (Tulane) offered me a job last year and I didn’t take it. Offered me a lot more money, too.
“It was definitely not about the money. It was more from a career standpoint and moving on. I hear that same thing – it wasn’t even about coming back home. I’ve been going home for 18 years. More than anything it’s like I left home to come back home.
“It was just more from a professional and career standpoint of where I wanted to go.”
Did attendance and bowl factors play a part? “I will say that last game at home (Nov. 24 against North Texas) was really disappointing with our seniors there and a win bringing them to a bowl game and no one was showing up for the seniors — that was frustrating.
“It’s part of building it, but you’d think after having two back-to-back winning seasons and playing totally different there would have been a lot more.
“There’s always an excuse. ‘It’s Thanksgiving weekend. It’s this, it’s that.’ You would like for everyone to be on board and help build the program.
“The thing about it is it did get better, it got a lot better. Especially early this year and then it did fall off toward the end. But it did get better.”
Future of WKU: “I hope they get the right guy. I don’t have anybody in mind, but I told them I’d do what I can to help them. I just want to make sure they get the right guy that’s about the right things that will continue to build what we had there at Western.
“I always said WKU is in my DNA and I’m gonna always watch and I’m gonna always be rooting for ‘em. They will continue to get better. That was one of the reasons for coming back to Bowling Green was to get our program back to where it belongs.
“I felt like we did it the right way and we did some great things and got our program in a great situation and made that job a lot more attractive than it was before I took over.
“I do think you have to get someone that is going to come in with some enthusiasm and continue to grow our fan base and somebody that can recruit. I think whoever you get for that position needs to be able to recruit some players considering where Bowling Green is located.
“It’s not necessarily a big recruiting base. You gotta get someone that can go out and get a kid and bring him to our campus.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. I know you all were asking questions and everyone thought I was leading everyone on and that really wasn’t what it seemed. It went so fast. I interviewed Friday and it happened Friday.
“I didn’t make up my mind, when they offered me the job, until after practice. It was hard. It was hard as hell.
“I did what I thought was best for me and my career and my family and I felt good because I knew we did it right at Western and we left it in a better place than what it was when we found it.
“I’m gonna always follow them and it was hard because of those kids that I brought in there to see them upset and frustrated. It was a little more gratifying after the fact because all of the text messages I got from the players thanking me for what I’ve done for them and they understand. That made it a lot easier for personally.
“I’m in debt to WKU and WKU is always gonna be in my DNA and I’m gonna always support and love them and I’m gonna be very excited watching them kick Central Michigan’s tail in that bowl game.”