Stephens: More ‘drag’ on the way for WKU

Brad Stephens

Willie Taggart has a phrase for dealing with distractions — “decreasing drag.”

Poll votes? Bowl scenarios? Rumors about where Taggart, WKU’s coach, will be next year?

The Toppers aren’t hearing any of it through their Big Red earmuffs.

“Our players are in a cocoon right now,” Taggart said on Oct. 1 when asked about dealing with the distractions. “…Those things we consider ‘drag’ around here.

“We’re decreasing drag. We’re trying to do big things this year.”

That might be a catch-22, though, because it’s the big things the 5-1 Toppers are doing this year that are bringing about the drag.

After five wins and a lone loss to No. 1 Alabama, WKU was ranked at No. 30 this week in the first BCS polls.

The Toppers were a mainstay on the ESPN “Bottom 10” as recently as last September. A spot near the nation’s Top 25 surely brought about some congrats from well-wishing fans.

From talks about polls come talks about bowls.

A Liberty Bowl rep will be in Bowling Green on Saturday for the Toppers’ game against Louisiana-Monroe. If WKU wins, it will have reached the six-win bowl eligibility mark.

Would the Liberty Bowl, based in nearby Memphis, take WKU? Will the Toppers get one of the Sun Belt’s two automatic bids, either to the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Ala., or to the New Orleans Bowl?

How about our old buddies at the BBVA Compass Bowl? Anyone going to write the “Hey, sorry about the nasty things we wrote on here last year when you didn’t pick us, can we just forget about that?” wall post on their Facebook page?

Then from there comes the question: Will Taggart even still be around when his team goes to a bowl?

He could be at a new job in Tampa, Fla., Fayetteville, Ark., or anywhere else by then, if you listen to some folks.

No one will ever question Taggart’s loyalty to WKU.

Still, the more these Toppers keep winning, the more someone will be willing to pay Willie T to pump life into their program like he did with his alma mater.

On top of all that, WKU should be favored to win each of the six games it has left in the regular season. It’d probably be a shocker if the Toppers finished the year any worse than 9-3.

As a special season rolls along, poll, bowl and Taggart talks will only get louder. WKU has to be mature enough to decrease that drag rather than get sucked up into it.

Two years ago, the Toppers weren’t mature enough to do that.

They went to Louisiana-Lafayette, snapped a 26-game losing streak, came home to a week’s worth of back-pats and then laid an egg on Homecoming against a bad North Texas team.

“Ol’ Willie T learned from that one,” Taggart said Monday.

“We have a sign up in our office that says, ‘We support no cause, foreign or domestic, other than winning a Sun Belt championship,’” Taggart said. “That’s our approach this week.”

That answer was in response to standard Homecoming distractions, but it could apply to WKU’s approach for the rest of the year.

There’s going to be plenty of drag hanging around as long as the Toppers are winning.

If they want to keep winning, then they better keep decreasing it.