OUT BOUNDS: Elson good choice, so was Taggart

Kyle Hightower

While Gotham was stewing over whether or not Jack Harbaugh actually left on his own terms, Western’s dynamic duo was answering the bat signal in finding his successor.

Athletic director Wood Selig and President Gary Ransdell moved with swiftness and deliberate intent over the weekend in nailing down the heir to the throne of Hilltopper football.

And to be quite frank about it, the Boy Wonder (Selig) and Caped Crusader (Ransdell) didn’t do half bad– if they throw some BAMS, POPS and CRASHES in along the way.

The hiring of David Elson accomplished two big things for the Western family.

First, it gave the returning Western football players a familiar face and somebody they know and trust when spring practice opens in about a month.


Second, and perhaps more importantly, Elson’s hiring appears to have secured the services of Willie Taggart, who has served as co-offensive coordinator for two straight seasons, for the immediate future.

Check — I think.

Because while the duo gets kudos for not apparently creating an atmosphere that Taggart wants to stay in, they should make no mistake about it — Taggart is a hot commodity.

Elson said yesterday that Harbaugh’s staff from a year ago should return mostly intact.

Taggart was the sentimental favorite to replace Harbaugh for many fans, players and Topper enthusiasts. But at 27, his age and experience had to work against him.

Selig said age wasn’t a consideration and went as far as calling Taggart a “candidate.”

Still, I wonder what might have been had Selig and Ransdell taken that leap of faith and given the Hilltopper football legend the shot of his sub-30-year-old life.

Can you imagine? Holy red towels, Batman!!!

Taggart’s youth, charisma and likable personality would entice players from across the map and might even tip a few players lost in the in-state border wars toward the Hill.

He’s got a lot to learn, and maybe he can learn it from Elson, but he’s had a pretty darn good teach in Harbaugh since joining the staff in 1998. And now that Elson — just 31 — is the head guy, it could be awhile before Western has one of these hiring searches.

Taggart has gotten head coaching offers in the past, and I wonder what is going to happen when they come in the immediate 2-3 year future — because the offers will come.

Just like Western had to do what Selig and Ransdell thought was best for the program, they can’t expect Taggart not to do the same for himself.

He loves Western, sure. But he also would love to be a head coach.

Not to mention the fact that a huge reason Taggart has coached at Western this long is now departed. His and Harbaugh’s relationship went well beyond player-coach and head coach-assistant coach.

To Harbaugh, Willie was like a son. Now that Dad has snapped, crackled and popped off into the sunset, I wonder if there is enough still here to keep Taggart in the Western crib.

I guess in the meantime, defense will reign again in Hilltopper country.

And I guess with Taggart here for now, the option will always have a home.

Defense and options.

That is what the Western dynamic duo must play to keep a dynamic, passed over coach from weighing his.

Kyle Hightower is a sports columnist and sports editor for the Herald. Reached him at [email protected]