‘Glad to be here in paradise:’ Willie Taggart takes over at FAU
Fired by Florida State, new Owls coach says he plans ‘on being here a long time’
BOCA RATON, Fla. – Willie Taggart was the winning coach in the first game ever played at FAU Stadium.
The Owls are hoping he wins a bunch more.
Taggart was introduced as Florida Atlantic’s new coach on Thursday. His contract calls for him to be paid at least $3.85 million if all five years of the deal are completed, according to documents released by the school.
“We plan on being here a long time,” said Taggart, who was fired by Florida State last month.
Taggart will earn $750,000 a year in base salary at FAU, along with a $25,000 annual retention bonus that would be paid starting in 2021. Other perks include membership at the Boca Raton Resort and Club and a car allowance.
He’s also eligible for bonuses for bowl appearances, conference titles, year-end national rankings, coaching awards and academic achievement by the football team.
“There was tremendous interest in this position,” said FAU athletic director Brian White, who learned late last week that now-former Owls coach Lane Kiffin was leaving for Ole Miss.
Taggart congratulated Kiffin for what he did in Boca Raton, going 26-13 and winning two Conference USA titles in three seasons.
“He made FAU a better football program,” Taggart said.
The terms of Taggart’s deal represent a savings for FAU -- and for Florida State.
FAU was paying Kiffin about $1 million in base salary and got Taggart for basically 25% less. And Taggart’s salary with the Owls also will reduce the total that Florida State owes on the remainder of his deal there, according to terms stipulated in the letter of agreement he signed with the Seminoles in December 2017.
Florida State owed Taggart about $18 million -- 85% of the salary remaining on his deal there -- after firing him following a 27-10 loss to Miami next month.
Taggart would owe Florida Atlantic $3 million in a buyout if he chooses to leave the Owls before Dec. 1, 2022, $1 million if he leaves between that date and Dec. 1, 2023, and $500,000 if he leaves between then and Dec. 31, 2024.
Taggart is 56-62 in his career at Western Kentucky, South Florida, Oregon and Florida State with a loss in his only bowl appearance as a head coach. FAU plays USF next season in a non-conference game.
But he’s 1-0 at FAU. The Owls opened their stadium in 2011, losing to Taggart and Western Kentucky 20-0.
“Glad to be here in paradise,” Taggart said.
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