Former Oregon and FSU coach Willie Taggart out at FAU after 3 seasons

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Willie Taggart of the Florida Atlantic Owls looks on during the second half against the UCF Knights at FAU Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Florida Atlantic was 15-18 in Willie Taggart's three seasons with the team. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Willie Taggart’s tenure at Florida Atlantic is over after three seasons.

The former Oregon and Florida State coach was fired after the Owls’ loss to Western Kentucky on Saturday. The 32-31 loss to the Hilltoppers dropped FAU to 5-7 on the season and will cause them to miss out on a bowl game.

"It was a difficult decision, as we have tremendous respect for Willie Taggart," FAU athletic director Brian White said in a statement. "He has represented FAU with class and character. However, the lack of on-field success needed to be addressed as we look toward the future."

Taggart came to FAU after he was fired nine games into the 2019 season at Florida State and replaced Lane Kiffin after he was hired at Ole Miss. Florida State was 5-7 in Taggart's first season in 2018 and 4-5 in 2019 when it made the decision to move on from Taggart less than two seasons in.

FAU was 5-4 in Taggart’s first season with the school in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and lost in the Montgomery Bowl. But the team has finished 5-7 in each of the past two seasons.

The Owls’ losing record in 2022 is because of their struggles in close games. FAU lost by three at Ohio, by two at Purdue, by three at UTEP and by one to the Hilltoppers. The Owls also lost 49-21 at Middle Tennessee State in Week 12 to drop to 5-6 before the WKU game.

Taggart famously came to Florida State after just one season at Oregon in 2017 when the Ducks went 7-5. Taggart went to Oregon after turning around South Florida. The Bulls were 2-10 in his first season in 2013 before winning eight games in 2015 and 10 games in 2016 ahead of his move to Oregon. Before coaching at USF, Taggart was WKU’s coach for three seasons from 2010-12.