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.
USF buyout amount of Charlie Strong revealed
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:
USF owes Charlie Strong $3 million, per termination letter https://t.co/AMOyjSjTOM
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) December 13, 2019
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.
Dabo Swinney endorsement helped USF get Jeff Scott
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:
"This is one of them jobs you want!" Thanks for the love, Dabo! 🤘 pic.twitter.com/J8LgWTKnIZ
— USF Football (@USFFootball) December 11, 2019
“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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