USF names Weist interim coach after losing Taggart to Oregon

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — South Florida co-offensive coordinator T.J. Weist will lead the 25th-ranked Bulls in the Birmingham Bowl following coach Willie Taggart’s departure to Oregon.

Taggart resigned Wednesday to take over a program that appeared in the national championship game just two seasons ago. He went 24-25 in four years at USF, including 18-7 and two bowl berths the past two seasons.

Weist will serve as interim coach the rest of the season, which concludes with a Dec. 29 matchup against South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.

Meanwhile, athletic director Mark Harlan said a national search for a new coach will begin immediately.

Taggart leaves USF (10-2) with four seasons remaining on a five-year, $9 million contract he received for turning around a program that fell on hard times after climbing as high as a No. 2 ranking in 2007. The deal he received last winter included a provision for a $1.7 million buyout.

The Bulls won a school-record 10 games this season — losing only to Florida State and Temple — with quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack leading Taggart’s high-paced “Gulf Coast” offense.

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