TAMPA – An off-the-cuff remark by University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart at his introductory news conference has been transformed into a marketing campaign by USF athletics. Tuesday morning, it was unveiled into a video. Shortly before noon, it went viral on YouTube. “It has been proven we can get there,’’ Taggart said last December in describing USF’s potential. “What we have to do now is put everybody on the bus, put them in the right seats and let Coach T drive this bus.’ The video shows Taggart climbing into the bus driver’s seat as his statement is played. The bus theme then takes on cartoon form. Taggart’s pop-up passengers include ESPN’s Dick Vitale, former Bucs coach Jon Gruden, Bucs running back Doug Martin, Rays manager Joe Maddon, Lightning players Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, USF President Judy Genshaft and school mascot, Rocky the Bull.
USF players Austin Reiter, DeDe Lattimore, Mark Joyce, Luke Sager, Sean Price and Andre Davis also are featured on the bus. It travels through several Tampa Bay area landmarks, including the Lowry Park Zoo, the Forum, Tropicana Field and Raymond James Stadium, while Taggart and his passengers sing a 1970s funk-inspired tune. The video further shows Taggart’s lighter side. Last week, the first-year coach continued to place his imprint on the program by wearing a working man’s blue shirt – complete with “Willie’’ name tag – to the first day of fall practice to instill a blue-collar attitude among his team.