Joe Taylor had already announced he'd resign at the end of the season, but then Thursday he caught everyone by surprise by suddenly quitting just two days before Homecoming.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida A&M coach Joe Taylor announced Thursday he's stepping down immediately.
Taylor leaves with two games remaining in his fifth season at the school in which was disappointing season for the Rattlers. Defensive coordinator Earl Holmes, a Tallahassee native, will be the acting head coach for Saturday's homecoming game against North Carolina Central and the season finale in Orlando on Nov. 17 against league-leading Bethune-Cookman.
Florida A&M (3-6, 3-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) is out of contention for a MEAC championship.
Taylor, 62, told his players last Saturday of his plans to retire at the end of the season, but subsequently changed his mind to leave immediately and eliminate any distraction to the team in its final two games.
"My life has really been enriched because of this profession," said Taylor, who spent 40 uninterrupted years coaching after his playing days at Western Illinois. "It's the greatest profession in the world."
One of the most successful coaches in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision, Taylor had experienced only two losing seasons in 25 years before he replaced Rubin Carter as Florida A&M's head coach on Dec. 31, 2007 when he signed a five-year contract at $225,000 per year. Carter was fired in November 2007 after a disappointing 3-8 season in his third year at the school.
Taylor concludes his coaching career with a 233-96-4 record that includes a 35-19 mark in five seasons at FAMU. He came to Florida A&M five years ago after spending 16 years at Hampton (Va.) where his teams were 136-49-1. He had previously also coached at Virginia Union and Howard University.
"You don't retire to look for a job," said Taylor, who plans to remain in Tallahassee.
Taylor has written an autobiography that is scheduled to be released at the end of the month and he already has three book tour stops scheduled to promote it.
Holmes, 39, starred at Florida A&M University High School before moving to Florida A&M. A middle linebacker, Holmes was drafted in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, two in Cleveland and three with Detroit as a playe. Holmes then spent two years as a high school coach in Lake Mary before joining Taylor's staff five years ago.
"This season hasn't turned been what we thought it would turn out to be," Holmes said Thursday. "But that's adversity and you've got to play through that. At the end of the day the game must go on."
Florida A&M athletic director Derek Horne said Holmes would be a strong candidate in the school's coaching search.
"We want to encourage him to go ahead and be a part of the program," Horne said.
The new next coach will be the school's ninth since the legendary Jake Gaither retired in 1969. Gaither's teams were 204-36-4 with six National Black College championships in 25 seasons.