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How big an edge does USF have with Charlie Strong knowing Texas Tech?

Josh Ciganek

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The University of South Florida Bulls are preparing to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Birmingham Bowl, the second consecutive year the Bulls will play in this bowl game. However, unlike last year’s opponent South Carolina, this Texas Tech team is not a new opponent. Well, not for head coach Charlie Strong it’s not.

Coach Strong, along with offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, faced the Red Raiders in each of his three years as the head coach of Texas. While Strong’s records at Texas weren’t his greatest, he found success against Texas Tech going 2-1 in the three seasons.

Being the defensive minded coach that Strong is, he is going to have a challenge on his hands with Tech’s fifth year senior quarterback Nic Shimonek under center. Shimonek started the first 11 games of the year and came off the bench in the Red Raiders’ final regular season game, against Texas, to lead Texas Tech to victory. Shimonek has thrown for over 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns so far this year thanks to some help from senior wide receivers Dylan Cantrell and Cameron Batson.

This Bulls defense is battle-tested and ready for whatever Texas Tech throws their way. They have faced some of the tough challenges throughout the year, including American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year McKenzie Milton from the undefeated UCF. Senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez, who led the team in tackles again this season, will be a keep part in shutting down Shimonek and the Red Raiders offense.

Using the familiarity of this Red Raiders team will need to be a focal point of Coach Strong’s gameplan. His history against Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury and their flying offense will prove to be an advantage for the Bulls, as they continued to prepare

How big an advantage? We’ll find out, as the teams face off December 23rd.

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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USF Bulls

USF buyout amount of Charlie Strong revealed

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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While we still await clarification for the Florida State buyout terms for fired coach Willie Taggart, we now know what USF will be paying former coach Charlie Strong after firing him almost two weeks ago.

According to a termination letter sent to Strong obtained by the Tampa Bay Times and beat reporter Joey Knight, the University informed Strong that he will be entitled up to $3 million in compensation over the next two years:

The termination letter reads in part,

In accordance with Section 8 of your Employment Agreement, you are entitled to twenty (20) weeks of your Base Salary of $500,000 (exclusive of benefits) totaling $191,570.88. Additionally, you are entitled to receive a Total Compensation Amount under Section B of your Supplemental Compensation Agreement with the USF Foundation. The Total Compensation Amount as of the effective date is $3,180,000 less the $191,570.88 paid by the university for a total of $2,988,429.12.

Strong was fired after the Bulls collapsed losing their final four games to finish 4 – 8 this season. They were beaten by 27 or more points five times this year, including the last two losses to Memphis and rival UCF. This combined with the Bulls having lost their final six games, including their bowl game last year, meant that Strong had lost 14 of his final 18 games.

USF hired Clemson Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott earlier this week and gave him a 5-year, $12 million deal to become a first-time head coach in FBS football.

There had been some debate about Strong’s buyout being the amount of compensation that was remaining on his original five-year contract that he signed when he took the job in December of  2016 after being fired by the University of Texas. That contract called for Strong to be paid to $2. 5 million on average for 2020 and 2021.

Now, the letter has clarified what the USF Foundation will be paying Strong. It’s further interesting that unlike his Texas deal, in which the final two years were guaranteed even if Strong got another head coaching job (which he did), USF will subtract Strong’s compensation from any new job over the next two years.

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USF Bulls

Dabo Swinney endorsement helped USF get Jeff Scott

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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It’s often said in the job hiring process: “it’s not what you know, but whom you know” that can help you get the gig. And, when it came to USF looking to hire Clemson a co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, “the whom” was his boss, Dabo Swinney.

On Wednesday, Scott met the media and USF fanbase in a huge press conference setting on campus in Tampa, and in his opening remarks made it very clear that one of the big reasons he was so interested in taking over the Bulls was the endorsement of his boss:

“He (Swinney) said: great university, great location, great conference, great recruiting base right in your back yard…you can win there. And, they have a great athletic director in Michael Kelly.”

Kelly, who was formerly an associate commissioner of the ACC before joining the College Football Playoff, as COO, has been on the job at USF for about a year and a half. And, he used his previous dealings with Swinney through the conference and the CFP to help him get his hire.

Swinney would know about taking advantage of opportunities, as he was made the interim coach at Clemson 11 years ago and has now built them into a powerhouse in the ACC and the national college football landscape. The Tigers just entered the College Football Playoff for the fifth consecutive year and will be going for their third championship in four years later this month.

Scott, who agreed to a five year $12 million deal, has been part of that as co-offensive coordinator for the past five seasons. And, he agreed to leave that post to come to USF to resurrect a program that as recently as three seasons ago, was in the top tier of the American Conference.

But, it will be a challenge to get USF back on track, as the Bulls lost 14 of their last 18 games over the last season and a half under Charlie Strong. And, the losing has seen fan base dwindle to fewer than 15,000 people at any of their home games at the end of this past season.

Scott, who’s had the chance to work with All American QB Trevor Lawrence and previously in his assistant career with the Tigers helped develop Clemson’s receivers. That includes previously working with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Williams who all have gone on to NFL success.

And, that definitely brings  some credibility on Scott’s resume.

Still, when Bulls Kelly that phone call reaching out for both Swinney’s opinion and help in hiring Scott, that probably set it all to the new Bulls boss.

And four days after their ACC Title Game win, he was standing at a podium in Tampa.

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