CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Citadel department of athletics mourns the passing of former head football coach Charlie Taaffe. Taaffe passed away Wednesday after a short battle with cancer. He was 69.
“I think Coach Taaffe is the standard around here,” said current head football coach Brent Thompson. “He had quite the career record here and he found a way so sustain a lot of success. He was able to win a championship in a very challenging Southern Conference.
“As far as I am concerned, he is probably the guy that is most responsible for us and our staff being back here. Having the ability to run this offense here, and continue to build upon what he had already started here many years ago, really speaks to everything he was able to accomplish here.”
Taaffe spent 10 years as the head coach of the Bulldogs, compiling a record of 55-47-1. He led the Bulldogs to five winning seasons and three trips to the playoffs.
His most successful season came in 1992 when he led the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record and the Southern Conference championship. The Bulldogs ended the regular season as the No. 1 team in the nation. For his efforts, Taafe was chosen as the Eddie Robinson Award recipient, honoring the top football coach at the FCS level.
Taaffe enjoyed plenty of success against FBS opponents as he led the Bulldogs to a 6-5 record, with wins over Arkansas, Army (2), Navy (2) and South Carolina.
Current head baseball coach Tony Skole was part of Coach Taaffe’s first recruiting class at The Citadel.
"It is a sad, sad day for The Citadel family,” said Skole. “There are many of us walking around today with just an awful feeling in our stomachs and a pain in our hearts. Coach Taaffe was an amazing man who made a huge impact on the lives of so many people.
“I was fortunate to be a member of his first recruiting class here at The Citadel. Being able to look back and remember how he and his staff poured themselves into our program and into our lives was truly special. As players, we never doubted that we were not going to win and have success. He implanted a toughness and competitiveness in his players that made you believe that you could take on the world.
“The lessons that Coach Taaffe instilled into my teammates and I, still live inside of us and that was almost 30 years ago. Just last week, I was reading through one of our old team handbooks that he issued, looking to use some of his words as an inspiration for my own team.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Taaffe and his son, Brian. I hope they can find some comfort in knowing just how loved and revered Coach Taaffe was with all of us who had the privilege to call him our coach."
Taafe went on to be the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. He led the Alouettes to the 2000 Grey Cup and became the first coach in CFL history to win the Annis Stiukus Trophy as the CFL’s Coach of the Year in each of his first two seasons.