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Willie Taggart, Brandon Doughty had something to smile about on Monday

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For USF Coach Willie Taggart and Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty, Monday’s Miami Beach Bowl ended one phase of their career and began another. While only one of them could come away with a victory, each had something to be happy about.

It was much easier for Doughty to be happy. He threw for more than a quarter mile in yards and three touchdowns in Western Kentucky’s 45-35 win over Taggart’s Bulls.

Doughty has been happy since the Hilltoppers arrived in Miami last week to prepare for the game. He had returned home.

A native of nearby Davie, Florida, Doughty was a star at North Broward Prep School, throwing for 23 touchdowns his senior season in 2009. He was recruited to Western Kentucky by new Hilltopper coach, Willie Taggart.

Taggart knew a little something about being a star quarterback at Western Kentucky. As a four-year starter there, he did enough to have his jersey (No. 1) retired.

As Taggart began his head coaching career, Doughty sat out the season as a redshirt freshman. Injuries and a redshirt season kept Doughty from playing very much during Taggart’s three years in Bowling Green.

When Taggart took the USF job in 2013, both he and Doughty embarked on the next steps in their careers. Taggart set out to rebuild the USF program while Doughty became the starting quarterback for Western Kentucky.

Doughty’s numbers are well-chronicled and in this his third year, the victories came as Western went 11-2. The victories came in Taggart’s third year in Tampa as well, as USF closed strong to finish 8-4.

Good things happen to coaches who win. Taggart is no exception.

While Brandon Doughty can be pleased with the way his day ended on Monday, Willie Taggart had something to smile about as Monday began.

USF awarded him a with a contract extension that will keep him at the school through 2020. He will reportedly make an average of $1.8 million, up from his current salary of $1.2 million.

“We had a vision of what we could create at USF and I would like to thank the players, coaches and staff who believed in that vision and who came together to make it a reality,” said Taggart in a statement. “We appreciate the Bulls fans, students and alumni who have taken Bulls Nation to places it has never been before. We are just getting started.”

Taggart tweeted news of the extension on Dec. 5 and he had every reason to be excited. Perhaps it was no coincidence USF acted quickly after rumors surfaced just days before that South Carolina had an interest in the Bulls’ coach.

He had to be excited about an 8-win season and the fact that the batteries of his offense, running back Marlon Mack and quarterback Quinton Flowers, are just sophomores.

Other quality players will return and new ones will come. Recruits now know that this program and this coach can win. Plus, they know the coach will be there for at least the next four years.

Taggart came out on the short end of the Miami Beach Bowl, but he can now take the next step along with the USF program that is now clearly his.

Doughty is looking to take his next step of playing football on Sundays.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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