FAU hires former Florida State, South Florida coach Willie Taggart as next coach


Some will argue that Willie Taggart was fired too soon at Florida State, but at least he wasn't out of work long. The school announced on Wednesday evening Taggart would be the next coach at Florida Atlantic. 

Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left the Owls to take over at Ole Miss after winning his second conference title in three seasons. So Taggart will be stepping into a stable situation in Boca Raton.

It's been a crazy ride for Taggart as a head coach. The former Western Kentucky quarterback returned to his alma mater in 2010 just four seasons after the school made the jump to the FBS level. After going 2-10 in his first season, the Hilltoppers improved to 7-5 the next year, and after another 7-6 season in 2012, Taggart left for South Florida. Once there, things followed a similar path. The Bulls were 2-10 in Taggart's first season, improved to 4-8 the next year, and then went 18-7 in his final two seasons, culminating in a 10-2 season in 2016. That performance led to Taggart being hired at Oregon, but he spent only one season with the Ducks before landing his "dream job" at Florida State.

"I'm grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University," Taggart said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn't do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future."

Taggart lasted only 21 games in Tallahassee, going 9-12 overall and 6-9 in the ACC. Now he's moving down the peninsula to Boca Raton. This could be a perfect landing spot for Taggart, as he has plenty of connections in the state and should be able to recruit well enough to keep the Owls at the top of the conference. Of course, whether or not success at FAU will lead to another Power Five job remains to be seen, but if it worked for Kiffin, there's no reason it shouldn't work for Taggart.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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