BOCA RATON – Oregon coach Willie Taggart predicts success for Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic.
“It’s a program that definitely can win and I know it will win, especially here with Lane,” Taggart said. “Lane being here, he’ll do a great job. They have everything in order to win ballgames.”
In town for FAU’s high school football camp on Monday, Taggart was one of two head coaches from Power 5 schools on campus to work the camp, joining Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.
Taggart, who shares an agent with Kiffin, brought his entire staff to Boca Raton.
“I think Lane’s personality, his football knowledge and the staff that he put together is perfect for FAU,” Taggart said. “I think he’ll do a tremendous job here and really get this program like I think they all envisioned it to be when they decided to start football here. I really think you’re going to start to see some of those things come to fruition, now.”
Taggart is fairly familiar with one member of Kiffin’s staff. Defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Eric Mathies came to Florida Atlantic from USF, where he was on Taggart’s staff.
Earlier this summer Kiffin noted that he saw Mathies as a future head coach. Told of the statement Taggart concurred, saying the only reason Mathies isn’t still a member of his staff is because he didn’t want to move cross country.
“I think Lane is right on,” Taggart said. “(Mathies) is really good with the kids. Every where he’s been he’s developed some really good D-linemen.”
More than 300 high school football players attended Monday’s camp, which started with Mathies addressing the players, followed by a brief speech by Kiffin. The weather almost certainly suppressed turnout.
The sun shined down on the Oxley Center practices fields briefly as players divided into groups by position, but rain eventually caused coaches to cut the camp short.
Kiffin joking blamed the rain on Taggart, who coaches in the notoriously moist pacific northwest.
“I don’t do rain very well,” Kiffin said. “Willie Taggart brought that down.”
The weather couldn’t dampen one fond memory Taggart has of FAU. Prior to his tenure at South Florida, Taggart coached the Western Kentucky team that handed FAU a 20-0 drubbing in 2011 – the first ever game at Howard Schnellenberger Field.
“It was a good day for us,” Taggart said.
Coaches from at least 10 college football programs worked the camp. Renowned for getting the most recruiting bang for his satellite camp buck, Harbaugh set up a Michigan tent near the exit from the field.
As the rain fell following the camp, Harbaugh chatted with potential recruits under the tent.
Like Taggart, Harbaugh can also envision Kiffin enjoying success in Boca Raton.
“He’s a proven guy,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, he’s been good.”
Coaches from Tennessee and Southern Cal – two schools where Kiffin formerly served as head coach – worked the camp.
“I’ve go great respect for their staff at Tennessee and always had great things to say about our time there at Tennessee, so there was no reason to not let them come,” said Kiffin, who departed Tennessee after only one season, much to the consternation of Vols fans.
Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Illinois and Auburn also sent members from their coaching staffs.
Kiffin said any school that expressed interest in working the camp was welcomed.
“I didn’t say no to any of them,” Kiffin said. “Really, whoever reached out to us and wanted to come, we allowed them to come.”