Football: the case for firing head coach Charlie Partridge

On pace for his third straight losing season, Partridge should be let go.


An upset Charlie Partridge puts his hands on his hips in the Owls 31-27 loss to Ball State on Sept. 24. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: FAU Athletics has not said that Charlie Partridge’s job is in jeopardy.

It’s never easy to admit when a big change is needed for anything in life, but sometimes it is what has to be done.

This is the dilemma surrounding the decision whether or not to keep Florida Atlantic head coach Charlie Partridge — a decision that should end with his termination.

Partridge took over the program at the end of the 2013 season from then-interim coach Brian Wright. According to the 2016 Conference USA Preseason Media poll, FAU was poised to finish fourth in the standings when all was said and done, which would have been a two-spot improvement from last season.

However, rather than improving, the Owls seem to have taken a step backwards. The team still finds itself winless in the conference after a 27-21 loss to Marshall this past weekend.

The loss put the Owls at 1-6 this season, the same record the team had at this point last season, and Partridge is now 7-24 all-time with FAU.

With these struggles in mind, here are five reasons why Partridge should be fired.

No offensive identity:

The Owls are still trying to figure out who they are.

Are they a ground-and-pound team? An explosive team?

Are they a shootout team? Do they rely on the running game more or their passing?

Junior running back Greg Howell has been one of the more consistent players for FAU, but the coaching staff has yet to find a reliable option to back him up.

Howell has rushed for 614 yards and the next closest running back is freshman Devin Singletary with 258 yards.

The Owls attempt at a dual-threat offense has backfired on them as sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel has yet to find his footing this year.

Driskel is completing just 59 percent of passes and has a touchdown-to-turnover ration of 4-to-6, and other than junior receiver Kalib Woods’ 596 receiving yards on the season, no other receiver has yet to record 155 yards.

“We’re nowhere where we need to be where we want to be,” offensive coordinator Travis Trickett said about his offense following practice on Oct. 12. “Where we want to be, where our standard is, we’re nowhere even in the close realm of, and can that be frustrating? No question.”

Defensive struggles:

To say the Owls have struggled defensively this season would be an understatement.

Out of 128 teams in the conference, FAU ranks 112th in rushing defense, 103rd in third-down defense and 116th in total defense.

FAU is also ninth in scoring defense and eighth in pass defense out of 13 teams in Conference USA.

Defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni said that he sees “inconsistency at all levels with everybody.”

A year ago, the team’s defense was average, ranking seventh in pass defense, sixth in scoring defense and sixth in total defense, but the way the team’s defensive production decreased rather than increased is a cause for concern.

Three sophomores on that defense earned Conference USA preseason team and honors, and two have improved their individual performances this season.

Sophomore defensive back Jalen Young currently leads the team in tackles this season with 77 and has also grabbed two interceptions so far this year.

Sophomore linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair is second on the team in total tackles with 59, while also hauling in an interception this year.

The third member, defensive back Ocie Rose, has been limited in minutes this year, having only started two games and totalled only 19 tackles.

Senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson has yet to recreate the magic from last season that earned him the Preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year award, having totalled only 28 tackles and five sacks so far this year.

Lack of improvement:

Let’s face it — FAU has been consistent in one way since Partridge has been in charge: losing.

Partridge went 3-9 in each of his first two seasons at the helm, and this season does not look as if anything good will come from it either.

Last season, although FAU started with a 47-44 overtime loss to Tulsa and a 44-20 loss to Miami, there was a lot of optimism surrounding the team.

However, the Owls went on to lose their next four games and the season was seen as over before they were even halfway through.

This season, the optimism was once again there when they began the season with a 38-30 win over Southern Illinois.

Mirroring last season, FAU has lost six straight games since that win, and once again it looks as if there isn’t any hope left for the team before midseason.

The Owls can still finish the season with six wins to be eligible for a bowl invitation but that is a tough task to pull off. They would need to win five straight games, three of which will be played against the conference leaders.

Fan support:

It’s safe to say that the fan support for FAU football as well as for Partridge has also been declining.

The Owls are currently last in the conference in home attendance, down two spots from a year ago. FAU was second to last in home attendance during Partridge’s first season in 2014.

Several fans have expressed their frustrations over Partridge and the coaching staff, several of them calling for the firing to happen sooner rather than later.

“Bunch of bums, our football and basketball programs are a joke,” said @dr_putz, with the hashtags “firechun” and “firepartridge.”

“Expected nothing less,” said @theCjwK. “My FAU boys worked too hard to be sent in the wrong directions. #firepartridge.”

Change of scenery:

Sometimes, we avoid changes in life just because we are too comfortable with a situation or because of the work that comes with them.

However, in the case of FAU, a change of scenery could be exactly what is needed.

When Partridge took over back in 2013, he was charged with the task of bringing stability to the program. He took over a 6-6 team from Brian Wright, who replaced Carl Pelini midseason after Pelini was accused of illegal drug use.

Partridge was hired to build on that record and bring success back, but the Owls have not improved since then.

The Owls need a new direction and a new face in charge. It is time for Partridge to move on.

Here is the case to keep Partridge.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Don_Phenom_.