Lane train departs Boca, head coach to Ole Miss


FAU hires former FSU coach Willie Taggart

Staff report

The “Lane train” has departed from Boca and is headed to Oxford, Miss.

After winning two Conference USA titles in three years, Lane Kiffin has left his position of head coach of Florida Atlantic University to return to the SEC where he will coach Ole Miss.

The Owls will now be led by former Florida State University head coach, Willie Taggart. Taggart will be the Owls’ seventh head coach.

Taggart’s deal with FAU is a five-year contract, according to ESPN. The decision to hire Taggart was made just days after Kiffin announced he was leaving.

“I’m grateful to [FAU athletic director] Brian White and President 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’s record as a head coach is 56-62. He was fired from FSU in the middle of his second season coaching the Seminoles after a loss to the University of Miami.

Kiffin was brought on to coach FAU for the 2017 season. The controversial coach, known for his Twitter rants, left the school after a 49-6 blowout home win against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It was his final game coaching the Owls as he left before the team played in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl against the SMU Mustangs on Dec. 21.

His three-season record at FAU in league games was 20-6 and his overall record was 26-13.

In a post-game conference, Kiffin kept the focus on the win and not on him leaving.

“Today is about the players, about this team, about this community, this university winning the conference championship again and going to great bowl game again,” he said. “They are champs again, the trophy is back here for another year.”

He praised the players’ performance and called the team special.

He described his stint in Boca as awesome and called the city a “phenomenal place to live.”

Kiffin made a base salary of $950,000 each season with the Owls. FAU also provided Kiffin a loan to live in Boca. He will owe the Boca university $1.5 million because he left before 2020. He had inked a deal to keep him under contract at FAU until 2027.

At Ole Miss, Kiffin is set to earn $16.2 million over the course of a four-year deal that lasts through Dec. 31, 2023. He will be paid $3.9 million in 2020. His salary will increase by $100,000 every year until his contract is set for $4.2 million in 2023.

There are other perks and incentives built into Kiffin’s contract. For example, he will earn $150,000 per SEC win after his fifth conference win of every season.

If Ole Miss plays in the SEC championship game, he will receive $150,000 bonus and if they win that game, he will make $400,000. If Kiffin wins SEC coach of the year, he’ll earn a $50,000 bonus and if he wins national coach of the year, he’ll earn a $100,000 bonus, according to the contract.The Ole Miss job will be Kiffin’s fifth head coaching position.

The Owls’ defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer was named the interim coach.