Friday, October 11, 2013

It's been quite a ride for long-time friends Weist and Taggart

A year ago when Willie Taggart was the head coach at his alma mater Western Kentucky and T.J. Weist was the receivers coach at Cincinnati there wasn't anybody would could peer into a crystal ball and predict that they would be on opposing sidelines on a mid-October Saturday afternoon at Rentschler Field.

Yet here they are ready to lead their teams against each other.

Taggart is in his first season as the head coach at South Florida and coming off the Bulls' first win of the season. Weist is preparing for his first game as a head coach as UConn's interim coach.

There figures to be an enthusiastic greeting between the two energetic coaches who worked together for six years at Western Kentucky.

"We started coaching together when we won the I-AA national championship at WKU and coached a few years after that together,' Taggart said. "We’ve had some time together, we’ve coached together and we know each other very well. We had some pretty competitive basketball and ping pong games. Coach Weist is a highly-competitive guy like myself and we always challenged each other, I don’t care what it was, we were doing it was always that way."

Weist said it was inevitable that if the two were on the basketball court today he would end up guarding Taggart and Taggart would draw the assignment on hi,.

"I would say this, we are probably 50-50 because we respected each other," Weist said. "We used to play a lot of basketball, we were together a long time and the one thing we always did is we played against each other no matter what the situation was, who was playing GAs (graduate assistants) or whatever it was it was always me against him because we developed into the two most competitive guys out there. I would have to say we were 50-50 but I would have to say I won the last one, the last competition we had and make sure he knows that."

All the good-natured bantering aside, both Taggart and Weist have their work cut out for them.

Taggart has five true freshmen on the two-deep chart and had 32 and 28-point losses during an 0-4 start. Weist is the offensive coordinator of a team ranked dead list in FBS in rushing offense and in the bottom five in total offense and sacks allowed.

However, when they cross paths in East Hartford before the game there will be time for a quick down memory lane before they get down to business.

"Me and him have been friends for a long time," Weist said. "We have been colleagues together on offense, we have developed game plans and worked on motivation. I think the thing that sets him apart is that he is very confident, he is very competitive in everything that he does. He has found a way to bring out that competitiveness with the team, not just with his position but with his team. Willie was a great player in college, a great player at Western Kentucky one of the best players in the country at his level. Learning from Jack Harbaugh and learning from Jim (Harbaugh) he has been around great coaches, he was a great player and he will have success. He had success at Western Kentucky and there is no doubt he will have success because he is a winner, he is very competitive, he is very driven and he is smart and to put him in that kind of situation with great talent down there and he will get that thing rolling."



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