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USF Bulls

Breaking: USF appears to have zeroed in on Charlie Strong

Roy Cummings

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Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire
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TAMPA – With the recruiting wars already under way, the contact period ending Monday and a date with South Carolina in the Dec. 29 Birmingham Bowl coming up, it didn’t figure to take USF officials long to begin their quest for a new coach to replace Oregon-bound Willie Taggart.

And it hasn’t.

 Florida Football Insiders has learned that the quest for Taggart’s successor began Wednesday and that it might actually end rather soon with former Texas coach Charlie Strong stepping in as the fourth head coach in school history.

It is believed that USF has already begun negotiating a contract with Strong, who could come rather cheap for the first part of the deal, as it appears the University of Texas will remain on the hook for paying Strong much of the $11 million buyout he had when he was fired by the Longhorns.

Granted, this is the time of year when you have to be careful with such news. After all, this is the time of year when agents, third parties and the like often leak this kind of information to help their client’s leverage and possible deals.

In this situation, however, Strong is already unemployed and we are told that USF is acting quickly to have him in place and contacting/reassuring recruits this weekend before the “dead period” begins next week.

That doesn’t guarantee that a deal is imminent, but if the deal does happen, the addition of Strong would appear to be a win-win for the Bulls as they’d be getting an established head coach who has experience not just coaching in, but recruiting in the state of Florida.

Strong has been through and won a lot of recruiting battles in Florida, first as a defensive ends coach and defensive coordinator with the University of Florida under then coach Urban Meyer and later as the head coach at Louisville.

Remember, it was Strong who coerced Teddy Bridgewater into leaving South Florida and playing his college ball at Louisville, where Strong led the Cardinals to a 33-23 upset “BCS Bowl” victory over the Gators in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, a game the Gators were favored to win by two touchdowns. That win sealed him the Texas job three years ago.

By the way, Strong’s hiring at Louisville came in the wake of a major endorsement from former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, who said of Strong in an interview at that time with ESPN, “When they see what he can do, you’re probably going to have a lot of people disappointed they didn’t hire him sooner.”

It seems the folks at USF may be heeding that same advice years later.

Stay tuned to F.F.I. for updates.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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USF Bulls

Cincinnati last second field goal capped rally over USF

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The USF Bulls did a lot of things right on Saturday night, but could not finish off 17th ranked Cincinnati. And, the Bearcats rallied for a clutch eighth consecutive win, 20 – 17.

Bearcats senior kicker Sam Crosa (above) booted a 37 yard game winning field goal with no time left, as Cincinnati rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit to improve to 6 – 0 on the American Conference season.

Crosa, who won the Bearcats games at East Carolina two weeks ago with no time left, capped an 11 play 60 yard drive in the final minute and a half of the game. That came on the heels of USF freshman kicker Spencer Shrader having missed from 32 yards out on a kick that would have allowed the Bulls to re-take the lead.

Shrader had three other costly misses in the game- all in the first half, including a 43-yarder as time ran out.

The Bulls had raced out to a 10 – 0 lead early, being led by freshman quarterback Jordan McCloud. USF went 71 yards in just eight plays on their opening drive. Trevon Sands scored on a four yard run to make it 7-0. Shrader made it 10-0 with a 28 yard field goal later in the second quarter.

USF’s defense only allowed a measly 78 yards passing and had five sacks. But, the Bearcats rally was led on the ground by Michael Warren II who tallied 134 yards and a TD. Cincy rushed for 200 yards as a team.

Cincinnati keeps its hopes alive for a potential “New Year’s Six bowl game, as they are the highest-ranked “Group of Five” conference team, currently at 17th in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Bearcats control their own destiny needing only to win their remaining two games, and they will host the American Championship game on December 7th.

With the loss, USF drops to 4 – 6 on the season and the debate about whether third-year coach Charlie Strong will keep his job continues. The Bulls have lost 12 of their last 16 games dating back to last season. They must win both of their remaining games with Memphis and UCF to go to a bowl game.

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USF Bulls

Bulls host #17 Cincinnati as part of our primer

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12 of college football season has arrived, and it presents us with a few interesting games and story lines. Bowl game sand coaches will be in the spotlight this week from Tallahassee all the way to Tampa.

Florida State is coming off of an emotional win last week in Boston. Now, they are a win away from becoming bowl eligible. Under the guidance of Odell Haggins, the Noles have been able to play inspired football over the three games. With Alabama State coning into town, all signs point to an FSU win.

RB Cam Akers had an off game last week but should erupt here. James Blackman was back at QB and reestablished himself as QB1. Expect the Noles to put up a lot of yards and points here and give the fans something to be happy about.

The Florida Gators will head to Missouri, looking to keep hope alive. The Gators need to win out and hope Georgia drops their last two conference games to win the SEC East. The offense rolled last week against Vandy as the defense flexed their muscles. The Tigers come in with a top 10 passing defense and will look to give Kyle Trask problems.

The Gators have struggled on the ground this season but will need RB Lamical Perine to have a good game to leave Columbia with a win. Tigers QB Kelly Bryant is expected to return this week to an offense that desperately needs him.

The Gators haven’t faced a true dual-threat quarterback like Bryant this year. The chess match between he and the defense will be something to watch. Last season Mizzou came into the Swamp and took it to the Gators. Dan Mullen would love nothing more than to return the favor this season.

USF will play host to the 17th ranked Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bulls have struggled this season to do anything on offense. On defense, the Bulls have struggled to stop the run on defense as well. Cincinnati will look to run the ball and often having the 31st ranked rushing offense. USF will be playing for bowl eligibility, needing to win two of the last three games. They are also playing for Charlie Strongs job as well.

Strong is on the hot seat, and it seems to be getting warmer by the week. The Bulls come in as home underdogs with the Bearcat’s two-touchdown favorites. The Bulls will need to empty the playbook here in need of a significant win.

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