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FAU athletic director Brian White expects 'Shula Bowl' rivalry to continue

'It won't be because of us,' White says of maintaining FIU rivalry with move to AAC
Posted at 11:37 AM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 11:41:17-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Florida Atlantic athletic director Brian White said Thursday he expects the Owls to make the jump to the American Athletic Conference by 2023.

The university and AAC announced earlier in the day that the Owls would become one of the league's newest members, joining Charlotte, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA.

White said he believes the move to the AAC will elevate the school's sports programs nationally and lead to new rivalries with current AAC member South Florida.

The Bulls are losing rival Central Florida to the Big 12 Conference, so it's possible that FAU could fill the gap as USF's end-of-season opponent, should the UCF-USF rivalry dissipate.

If that happens, it would be a reunion of sorts for second-year FAU head coach Willie Taggart, who led the Bulls to a 24-25 record from 2013-16. Taggart was in his first season at USF the last time the teams met -- a 28-10 FAU victory in Tampa.

Willie Taggart as USF Bulls head coach in 2013
South Florida head coach Willie Taggart stands on the sideline during the second half of a game against Central Florida on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. UCF won 23-20.

White said he's "excited about being in the same league" as USF and is "looking forward to competing more regularly with South Florida."

When it comes to the annual "Shula Bowl" rivalry against Florida International, White said he expects it to continue even after the Owls leave Conference USA.

"I hope so," White said.

White said he spoke with FIU athletic director Pete Garcia and "assured him that we would still like to play in every single sport every single year."

FAU Owls QB N'Kosi Perry celebrates with teammates after beating FIU Panthers in 2021
FAU quarterback N'Kosi Perry (center) celebrates with his teammates after the Owls defeated rival FIU 58-21, Oct. 2, 2021, at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla.

"So it won't be because of us," White added.

FAU has won five in a row against the Panthers, including a 58-21 victory at FAU Stadium earlier this month.

The Owls are scheduled to play what could be their final conference game against FIU next season at FIU's Riccardo Silva Stadium.

Until then, FAU will remain a full member of C-USA.