In 2017, for the first time, FIU and Florida Atlantic each will open the football season with new head coaches.
FIU, of course, will have former University of Miami and Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis after the early season firing of Ron Turner. Up in Boca Raton, the FAU head coach is To Be Determined after Sunday’s firing of Charlie Partridge after three seasons and a 9-27 record.
The school announced the firing Sunday afternoon. Partridge’s hat trick of 3-9 seasons ended with Saturday’s defense-free 77-56 loss to Middle Tennessee State. During 2016, the Owls suffered massive eviscerations by Kansas State (63-7) and Conference USA foe Western Kentucky (52-3). They lost the Shula Bowl to FIU for the second time in three seasons.
Possibly worse than any of those was last week’s home loss to Old Dominion. The score was 42-24. The reason the loss might have been the worse: an announced crowd of 5,843 at FAU Stadium, the lowest since the stadium opened in 2011.
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A Plantation High graduate with experience at Wisconsin, Pitt and Arkansas as an assistant, Partridge took over a Talladega wreck of an FAU program when hired in December 2013. Drug use allegations dogged previous coach Carl Pellini. Any South Florida identity seemed to leave with initial coach Howard Schnellenberger.
Partridge focused recruiting on the Orlando to Palm Beach County area and hired former Edison High player and coach Corey Bell to recruit Miami-Dade. FAU’s recruiting classes under Partridge ranked eighth, second and seventh in Conference USA, according to 247Sports.com.