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Breaking: USF appears to have zeroed in on Charlie Strong

Roy Cummings



Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire

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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