FAU turns to Taggart to replace Kiffin as coach

Florida Atlantic has hired Willie Taggart as its next coach, with the sides finalizing a five-year contract Wednesday, the school announced.

Taggart was fired last month at Florida State after only 21 games as Seminoles coach. He replaces Lane Kiffin, who left Saturday to become head coach at Ole Miss. Kiffin guided Florida Atlantic to a Conference USA championship this past season, as well as another league title in 2017.

“I’m grateful to [athletic director] Brian White and President [John] 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, 43, will begin his fifth FBS head-coaching job after previous stops at Western Kentucky, South Florida, Oregon and Florida State. He is 56-62 overall with a 10-win season at South Florida in 2016. Taggart went 7-5 in his only season at Oregon and 9-12 at Florida State, which fired him following a home loss to Miami.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” 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. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”

A native of Bradenton, Florida, Taggart had been mentioned as a candidate for the coaching vacancy at South Florida, which ultimately went to Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott.

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