UPDATED Thurs. 11:30 p.m. to included Taggart’s specific contract information.
UPDATED Wed. 8:30 p.m. to included Taggart’s contract information.
UPDATED Wed. 7:40 p.m. to included FAU’s announcement of Taggart’s hiring.
BOCA RATON – The first coach ever to win a football game at FAU football stadium will now have the opportunity to win many more.
Willie Taggart is Florida Atlantic’s new football coach, FAU athletic director Brian White announced on Wednesday.
“I’m grateful to Brian White and President [John] Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” Taggart said in the press release announcing his hiring. “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.”
Florida Atlantic officials and Taggart reached an agreement in principle earlier on Wednesday. He will be introduced at a media event on Thursday.
Taggart’s memorandum of understanding with FAU, obtained via public records requests, agrees upon a five year contract with an annual salary of $750,000. That’s significantly less than the $1 million FAU paid former coach Lane Kiffin. Florida St. still owes Taggart approximately $17 million as a buyout from his previous contract. The $750,000 from FAU offsets that FSU buyout. The memorandum calls for a base salary increase of $25,000 per year.
FAU also doesn’t provide a home loan, like it did for Kiffin.
Should Taggart leave for another school prior to Dec. 1, 2022, he’ll need to pay FAU $3 million. That total drops to $1 million if he leaves the following year, and to $500,000 should he exit before the completing the final year of his contract.
Taggart has some familiarity with Conference USA, having been the coach at Western Kentucky prior to the Hilltoppers move from the Sun Belt to C-USA. Taggart’s Hilltopper teams lost two of their three games against FAU.
The lone win came in 2011 in what was the inaugural game in the FAU football stadium now known as Howard Schnellenberger Field. WKU defeated the Schnellenberger-led Owls 20-0 that
Fired from Florida St. mid-2019 season after leading the Seminoles to a 9-12 record during his tenure, Taggart is replacing Lane Kiffin, who left FAU for Mississippi following Saturday’s victory over UAB in the Conference USA Championship game.
Taggart fit the candidate profile provided to OwlAccess.com earlier this week, bringing an offensive background to the job along with major-program experience. During the period from 2015-17 Taggart’s offenses were the fourth most productive nationally.
Hired by Florida St. in December of 2017, Taggart joined the Seminoles after one season at Oregon.
Prior to that he revived South Florida’s program, spending four seasons at the Bulls coach and winning 10 games in 2016. His Bulls did lose to FAU in 2013, his first season at South Florida, en route to a 2-10 record.
FAU and USF play in Boca Raton on Sept. 26 of 2020.
Regarded as a program builder and strong recruiter, particularly within Florida, Taggart owns a 56-62 record as a head coach. Five of his 10 seasons as a coach ended with records above .500.
Taggart also served as the running backs coach at Stanford (2007-2009) and the offensive coordinator and QB coach at WKU (2001-06). He also coached quarterbacks at WKU in 2000 and wide receivers there the year prior.
Prior to becoming a coach, Taggart was a four-year starting quarterback for the Hilltoppers.
Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer has been serving as FAU’s interim coach since Saturday. It is unclear at this point whether Taggart will coach the Owls in their Dec. 21 Boca Raton Bowl game.