BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — It is official and the only direction is forward!
The inaugural American Athletic Conference football season is standing at the threshold and in Newport, Rhode Island at the Viking Hotel, members of the media, student-athletes and the staff members of the conference gathered and held the first AAC Media Day July 29 and 30, 2013.
According to reports, the event was successful, the weather cooperated, the menu was described as delicious and the interviews with the student-athletes and coaching staff insightful and informative.
Including in the festivities from the city of Tampa and representing the University of South Florida, new Bulls’ football coach Willie Taggart.
The conference media is predicting that the Bulls will do no better than fifth place in the eight-team league.
Taggart says that these things are great for conversation around the offices and at the dinner table but he thinks that the Bulls might surprise a few folks.
“Our expectations are high,” Taggart said. “Our intention is to win a championship, that is what we want to do and we intend on to do that!”
The Bulls received 155 points in the voting while the favorite to win the conference title Louisville collected 28 first place votes and finished with 298 votes.
Taggart knows that the fans that follow the Bulls are passionate about the University of South Florida and have set the bar high and is expecting a strong performance on the football field.
“I love the passion of the fans,” Taggart said. “I do know that the Bay area loves winners. You win ballgames and they will get behind you and support you and it is on us as a football team to go out and earn that support.”
Taggart will greet the players Sunday August 4, 2013 and starting Monday August 5, 2013 the Bulls will start to prepare for the season.
Taggart believes that his team is ready to get to work and he feels they believe in Taggart’s philosophy.
“I will say that our players have done a great job of buying into what we have asked them to do and it’s made it a little easier on us as coaches because they are doing and trying to do what we asked them to do and they are getting better,” Taggart said. “I told those guys , the way we play is like a gift to their teammates. Holding everybody accountable. Not just players but coaches and everyone else, everybody’s got to be accountable to do their job.”
The adjustment that the players have made so far since the arrival of Taggart is been an amazing progression and that is okay with Taggart.
“Our guys are in our office all the time. They’re up their, around and you don’t get and that is a lot,” Taggart said. “They’ve been working hard and been eager to learn and just hearing the feedback from our players, guys are starting to come together.”
Players have been sticking around campus going to class and working hard in the weight rooms and Taggart says that is all in the process of the commitment to the program by the players.
“Some of our guys have been through – now they’re on their third coach and they have been trained a different ways and now we’re trying to train them another way,” Taggart said about the players that have been working and staying around campus. “A big part is staying consistence, being disciplined and holding everybody accountable.”
So far, the Bulls have shown their new coach respect and respect to each other, there has been no trouble off-campus and for Taggart and the football fans of USF that is good news.
“I will say we hadn’t had a lot of discipline problems and that is huge, especially with a new staff coming in, It doesn’t always happen that way when you start over new,” Taggart said. “We’re a program that really hadn’t lived up to our potential. I think our program is a sleeping giant.”
So the alarm clock is set for Monday, the dog days of summer are going to be hot and the sounds of footballs being kicked will fill up the air and on the ground football players will be sweating, running and making strides for a successful 2013 football season-all under the watchful eye of Taggart.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.