New WKU football coach Willie Taggart is tackling the nation's longest college football losing streak head on.
“If they don’t put it behind them, they’re going to struggle and they’re going to get left behind, because we’ve put it all behind us. We can’t do anything about last year – can’t do anything about that. I told our guys on Sunday, ‘Last year is history, this year is a mystery, and today is an opportunity for all of us to determine our legacy.’ We don’t know what this year holds, but we’re practicing our tails off every single day, and good things will happen for us.”
Of course, this is what new coaches do. They look forward, not backward. But at the WKU Football media day, tight end Jack Doyle said things already seemed different... even fun.
“He kept telling us, ‘This is going to be the funnest camp you’ve ever been a part of, but it’s also going to be the hardest,’ I think that’s the way it needs to be. He’s going to incorporate competition into it, and that makes it fun, but we’re going to be working our tails off to get better.”
Taggart believes. Now it's time for the players to start.
Doyle's advice about the 2009 season?
“Let’s just forget it,” he said.
When asked how Taggart differed from the fired coach, David Elson, Jared Clendenin, junior defensive end put it succinctly, if not eloquently...
“He’s got a lot of juice. When he’s out there running around, you’re out there running around. You don’t want no dead coach out there. ...a lot of energy about him - and I like that in my coach.”
Taggart isn't going to let the team be complacent.
“I told them from day one that I wasn’t going to let any of them settle,” Taggart said. “I told them from day one how important this job was to me personally and how I wasn’t going to let anybody mess it up. ... I don’t get along with lazy people. If they’re lazy, I can write my name on a release paper really fast and they can go somewhere where lazy people are tolerated - we’re not going to have that anymore."
Taggart talked at length about the heritage and tradition of Western Kentucky University and his love for the institution and his drive to lift the program to a place of respect.
Taggart knows the road to winning back fans is a long one. But is making no predictions or anything that can be construed as a promise on when the nation's longest college football losing streak may end. He is promising to reward the WKU faithful with a reason to stand up and cheer.
“We’re not asking anything from anybody,” he said. “But I know this. We’re not going to step in Houchens-Smith Stadium and not be ready to put a show on for this community. The community deserves it. "