Partridge promises to reach out to the South Florida community.

BOCA RATON — FAU formally introduced Charlie Partridge as the school's fourth football coach on Tuesday, but in truth, no introduction was necessary.

That's because Partridge, the former Arkansas and Wisconsin assistant, is back home. He grew up "a short bike ride" from the Swap Shop on Sunrise Boulevard, went to Dolphins games at the Orange Bowl and attended Plantation High. He is a product of South Florida, and he made it clear Tuesday he envisions that, under his direction, the FAU football program will be as well.

"We're going to build a program based on Florida and Florida first," Partridge said Tuesday. "We're coming, and we're going to be visible."

Partridge started his coaching career up north, making stops at Iowa State, Pitt and Wisconsin before moving to Arkansas last year, but his career was built on his Florida ties. He developed a strong reputation as a no-flash, no-nonsense recruiter in arguably the most fertile recruiting ground in the country — South Florida — by convincing prospects to leave the sunshine and go north.


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Now, he wants to convince prospects to play close to home.

"If we can recruit and get some of the best world-class athletes out of South Florida and Florida at large to join our program, then we can put together something special here," Partridge said.

Partridge was FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun's first head coaching hire for a revenue sport program, and he was the first candidate he met with following the end of FAU's season.

Chun said that Partridge set the bar high for the candidates he would later meet with and, in the end, Chun went back to the man who made the stellar first impression.

"The first time we met, I knew he was a special guy," Chun said. "We need a coach with presence. … He got off the plane and doesn't need a map. There's a difference when you're coming home. There are a lot of people in this business that want to be head coaches — Charlie Partridge wants to be the head coach of Florida Atlantic University."

There was no mention of former FAU coach Carl Pelini during the press conference, but Partridge was quick to thank South Florida high school coaches — University School's Roger Harriott and St. Thomas Aquinas' George Smith were both in attendance Tuesday.

"To the high school coaches, thank you for your trust," Partridge said. "I wouldn't be here without it. Thank you for your support. I'd have no chance if it weren't for you guys that are in this room and the high school coaches at large."

Partridge also thanked Brian Wright, who took over as FAU's interim head coach following Pelini's resignation on Oct. 30.

Chun maintained Wright was a candidate to be retained as head coach, but last week, Chun informed Wright he was no longer a candidate for the job. Partridge doesn't have a connection to Wright but said he was looking forward to meeting with him in the next 48 hours. All FAU assistant coaches orphaned by Pelini's departure will have an opportunity to interview with Partridge this week. Wright was not present at the press conference.

Partridge signed his five-year, $2.76 million contract with FAU on Tuesday morning and he will now go about hiring a coaching staff and putting together a recruiting class ahead of National Signing Day on Feb. 5. Partridge said Tuesday that he had not reached out to coaches or prospects about coming to FAU. College coaches are not allowed to recruit in-person until Jan. 15, which Partridge said will make hiring his staff a much easier task.

"We are in a state of urgency, not emergency," Partridge said. "It gives me time to put together a staff that we know can be on the same page and work together moving forward."

As with any introductory press conference, there were promises made, but none was said with more conviction than Partridge's guarantee to South Florida.

"We will embrace the community. We want the community to embrace us," Partridge said. "We will reach out to groups in the area. Our players will be visible. We'll continue to build on the foundation that's already been built, and we'll make sure Boca understands we're here to continue to build that rapport."