TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Willie Taggart has been hired as South Florida’s new football coach after establishing himself as one of the nation’s top young prospects by turning a losing program around at Western Kentucky.

USF scheduled a news conference for Saturday afternoon to introduce the 36-year-old, who grew up in the Tampa Bay area before heading off to play and later coach at Western Kentucky. He replaces Skip Holtz, who was fired following the worst season in USF’s 16-year history.

Taggart led Western Kentucky to 7-5 record this season. The Hilltoppers will make their first bowl appearance against Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Bowl.

The former assistant to Jim Harbaugh takes over a program that went 16-21 under Holtz, who dropped nine of 10 games following a 2-0 start this season.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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