FAU is looking for a new head coach.
The Owls relieved Charlie Partridge of his head coaching duties on Sunday, one day after Middle Tennessee pounded FAU 77-56.
“I want to thank Charlie Partridge for putting his heart and soul into Florida Atlantic University for the past three years,” FAU athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement released by the school. “He led our program with integrity and character. Most importantly, he impacted the lives of our student-athletes and that will have a lasting effect.”
For Partridge, the loss concluded his third 3-9 season in a row. That proved to be one too many 3-9 seasons for FAU to swallow.
Hired in December of 2013, Partridge still had two years remaining on his original five-year contract. FAU owes Partridge a little more than $1 million for the remaining two years, but a buyout clause in the contract drops that total to about $200,000 should Partridge quickly find a job on another staff.
During the three years under Partridge the FAU football program made tremendous advancements off the field in recruiting, academics and, to some extent, fundraising.
On the field, the Owls continued to make the same mistakes week after week and statistically the Owls entered the season finale as one of the worst teams in the nation – and that comes while playing one of the easiest schedules in the nation.
The high point on the field for the Partridge-led Owls may actually be a loss. Late in 2015 the Owls traveled to Gainesville and took an SEC Championship Game-bound Florida team into overtime before losing 20-14.
Twice during Partridge’s three seasons the Owls finished among the bottom 20 in total defense and scoring defense. The Owls entered Saturday’s loss to MTSU ranked No. 93 in total offense and No. 103 in scoring offense.
FAU lost four games this season by six points or less. Of the 27 losses under Partridge, 12 were by seven points or less. But FAU also suffered its most lopsided loss in program history earlier this season at Kansas St., falling 63-7; it’s worst home loss in program history – a 52-3 drubbing by Western Kentucky; and, after Saturday, one of the worst overall single-game defensive performances in NCAA history.
Critics consistently commented about the Owls being out-coached, particularly after halftime. Coming into Saturday’s game FAU had only scored 96 points in the second halves of games, while allowing 184.
Offensively the Owls didn’t score their third fourth-quarter touchdown of the season until Week 9 against Rice. A victory in that game snapped FAU’s seven-game losing streak.
Partridge never defeated the same team more than once during his tenure.
The constant losses took a toll on attendance this season. The Owls barely averaged more than 10,000 fans per game – easily the lowest of the Partridge Era. A game pushed back to Sunday because of Hurricane Matthew didn’t help that number, but an announced attendance of 5,843 against Old Dominion in the home finale may be as telling a count as there is – and that came with the Owls riding a two-game winning streak.
Despite all his struggles, Partridge leaves FAU as the program’s second-winningest coach. His nine wins are three more than Carl Pelini won in a little more than a season-and-a-half and five more than Brian Wright won as a four-game interim coach in 2013. Partridge’s .250 winning percentage is the worst among all FAU coaches.
Program founder Howard Schnellenberger won 41 games in 10 seasons as the Owls’ coach and led the Owls to their only bowl appearances – the last one coming in 2008.
A South Florida native, Partridge came to FAU following one year as the defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator for Arkansas. Prior to that he spent five years as an assistant at Wisconsin. He had never held a coordinator or head coaching position prior to accepting the FAU job.