Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

Former FSU, USF coach Willie Taggart hired at Florida Atlantic

He moves to his fourth program in the past 36 months. Adding intrigue to the hire, FAU hosts USF in 2020.
New FAU coach Willie Taggart faces one of his old teams, USF, on Sept. 26, 2020 in Boca Raton. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times]
New FAU coach Willie Taggart faces one of his old teams, USF, on Sept. 26, 2020 in Boca Raton. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [JONES, OCTAVIO | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Dec. 11, 2019
Updated Dec. 12, 2019

Willie Taggart is heading back to South Florida to resume his coaching career after all.

Just not the South Florida he envisioned.

Taggart, who spoke with USF representatives about his old job that ultimately went to Jeff Scott, has been hired to replace Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton. Kiffin left the Owls after three seasons to become coach at Ole Miss.

MORE BULLS: New USF coach Jeff Scott makes ‘united from start to finish’ pitch

“I’m looking forward to long-term success here,” Taggart said in a statement distributed by the university Wednesday night. “I think our players and the university deserve that commitment.”

Brett McMurphy of Stadium sports network first reported Taggart’s hiring earlier in the day.

FAU will be the fourth program Taggart has coached in the past 36 months, joining USF (2013-16), Oregon (2017) and Florida State (2018-19).

USF faces the Owls in Boca Raton next season on Sept. 26.

FAU’s hiring of Taggart, 43, came 38 days after he was fired at FSU following a horrific 21-game tenure in which the Seminoles won nine and home attendance declined drastically.

Financial details of his agreement with FAU were not known, though the school said it’s a five-year deal. The contract is expected to offset at least part of the exorbitant $18 million buyout owed to Taggart by FSU, though some legal wrangling could ensue. The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that Taggart never signed a final, formal contract with FSU.

Kiffin was 26-13 in three seasons at FAU, winning two Conference USA championships and breathing new life into a moribund program before leaving last week for Mississippi. His hiring in 2016 was a splashy one, after past stints as a head coach — at Tennessee and with the NFL’s Raiders — didn’t work out as he hoped.

Taggart could use a similar resume revival. He has been to one bowl game in 10 seasons as a head coach, with a 56-62 record. FSU fired him Nov. 3, one day after its 27-10 loss to Miami.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well.”

Taggart is the fourth prominent coach who was at a Power Five school this season, got fired and then found his next opportunity relatively quickly.

Chad Morris was fired at Arkansas, then hired as Auburn’s offensive coordinator. Matt Luke was fired at Ole Miss, then got hired as associate head coach at Georgia. Steve Addazio, who was at Boston College, was hired Wednesday at Colorado State.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, right, talks to members of the football team during a meeting at USF last week. Since then, Scott and his staff  have remained on the recruiting trail, landing six new non-binding commitments. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    New coach Jeff Scott has received six new commitments since Sunday.
  2. USF Bulls guard Laquincy Rideau (3) shoots a 3-pointer over Wichita State Shockers guard Dexter Dennis (0) during the first half at the Yuengling Center. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The Bulls shoot 30 percent from the floor in a 56-43 defeat at the Yuengling Center.
  3. Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall's club was ranked as high as 16th in the Associated Press poll earlier this month before losing two in a row last week. [MICHAEL PEREZ  |  AP]
    Both teams will try to break out of skids in tonight’s ‘Coaches vs. Cancer’ game at the Yuengling Center.
  4. Chamberlain offensive tackle Cesar Reyes said via Twitter on Sunday he plans to sign with USF. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Bulls fortify depth at quarterback and on the offensive line.
  5. USF sophomore Elisa Pinzan had seven 3-pointers Sunday in the Bulls' 64-57 loss to UCF at the Yuengling Center. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times] [Joey Knight]
    The Knights sweep a weekend of basketball against the Bulls.
  6. USF senior point guard Laquincy Rideau (3) drives in the first half of his team's 55-54 loss Saturday at UCF. [Photo provided by UCF Athletics] [UCF Athletics]
    The Bulls coach doesn’t hold back following his team’s controversial 55-54 loss in Orlando
  7. USF sophomore center Michael Durr faces a daunting challenge on Saturday night in Orlando against UCF 6-foot-11 veteran Collin Smith. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bulls, who appear on the cusp of a breakthrough win, haven’t defeated the Knights since 2015.
  8. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, left, meets with members of his coaching staff and support staff at USF on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    The new coach also has a date set for the Bulls’ spring intrasquad game
  9. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, right, talks to members of the football team during a team meeting at USF on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    Clemson’s former co-offensive coordinator holds his first full team meeting as USF coach.
  10. USF women's coach Jose Fernandez, talking with guard Enna Pehadzic (0) during the Bulls' season-opening win against Jacksonville, leads his team into a critical American Athletic Conference game tonight at Temple. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A mediocre showing in non-conference play has hindered the Bulls’ NCAA Tournament hopes.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement