Taggart calls for ‘juice’ from WKU students at pep rally

WKU’s head football coach Willie Taggart tells assembled students at Guthrie Tower his plans to defeat Indiana University in Saturday’s game — the first home game of the 2010 season.

Cole Claybourn

All WKU Head Coach Willie Taggart wants is some juice – his

version of energy and enthusiasm.

But he doesn’t just want it from his players. He wants it from

his fans, too.

Taggart, Athletics Director Ross Bjork, President Gary

Ransdell, and several players led WKU students and faculty in a pep

rally on Friday in an effort to get some of that juice flowing

before Saturday’s game against Big Ten opponent Indiana.

“This is your university. This is your football team,” Taggart

said. “I can tell you now: we need your support. We need that juice

from you all, all the time.

“When Indiana comes in here tomorrow, we want them to know

that everyone here in Bowling Green and on WKU’s campus is on the

same page. We want them to know we have a lot of enthusiasm around

here, because that’s how we’re going to do things around here


Bjork said he plans to hold a pep rally every year from now on

the Friday before WKU’s first home football game of the season.

Friday’s pep rally saw a crowd gather around the Guthrie Bell

Tower, joined by cheerleaders, Big Red and the WKU pep band.

The Hilltoppers (0-2) will host a Big Ten opponent for the

first time in Houchens-Smith Stadium history on Saturday.

And while playing their first home game under a new coach

against a major conference team, all the while trying to snap a

22-game losing streak may seem like a steep hill to climb, Taggart

said the players are ready to play.

But he said the Toppers can’t do it by themselves.

“We need you all out there,” he said. “We’re all in this

together. No matter how you look at it, we’re all in this


Ransdell challenged the students to pack the stadium wearing

“WKU red,” to which the students responded with a loud


“We want this stadium to be an intimidating place for an

opponent to play, and we want to play at the highest level,” he

said. “We know we

have work to do, but you know what – it can’t be done until

everyone in this university family becomes part of this program and

a winning tradition. Tomorrow is a good time to start that winning


Ransdell said he wants to see the entire campus filled with

WKU fans tailgating, something he said he saw when the Hilltoppers

traveled to Nebraska two weeks ago.

“This is your time to have fun,” he said. “This is your

program — your game day — and I want you to own it.

“We need to show them what red is all about. Tomorrow,

everything in that stadium is going to be WKU red, and we’re ready

to show what we’re capable of doing.”

Junior running back Bobby Rainey said Saturday will be a

“special day” for the Hilltoppers. Not only will it be the first

time for a Big Ten opponent to visit, but it will mark the first

time Taggart has returned to the WKU sidelines in four years since

he was an assistant coach from 1999-2006.

Taggart’s already said his players are ready to play. But as

for him?

“I’m very jacked up,” he said. “Don’t be surprised if I come

out with a helmet on. I’m ready to roll.”