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USF coach Charlie Strong already leading candidate at Maryland?

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not even December, but the “coaching rumor carousel” has already cranked up and it applies to the new opening at the University of Maryland and the USF Bulls head coach, Charlie Strong.

First you’re probably aware of the “dumpster fire” type controversy for the Maryland athletic department that has led to this week coach DJ Durkin being reinstated and then fired the following day.

This came after Durkin was placed on paid leave, while in almost 90 day investigation was going on into the death during conditioning in the offseason of defensive lineman Jordan McNair.

Maryland’s decision to put Durkin back on the sidelines for practice this week and potentially start coaching games again, was met with an uproar from the campus and the college football world.

Again, the governor of Maryland and the Board of Regents quickly reversed course and fired Durkin Wednesday afternoon.

So now the Big Ten school has an opening and there will be all kinds of names linked to it.

One of those names is the second-year coach of the Bulls, Who currently has them sitting at 7 and 1 this season and Charlie Strong comes off a 10-win season a year ago.

Two prominent college football writers already engaged in this speculation, including Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, who listed Strong as the top candidate for the Terps job.

CBSsports.com national college football writer and columnist Dennis Dodd put out a lengthy list of names but also had Strong as one of his top candidates saying:

Strong is 17-3 in his second season at USF. All he needs is the perfect entree back to Power Five after being fired at Texas. Strong would be that calming influence. A master recruiter, Strong could activate D.C.-area talent that has long avoided Maryland. If I’m Evans, Strong is one of my first calls.

Strong obviously was on a fast track to the big time of college coaching after leading the Louisville Cardinals to a great season and upset of the Gators in the Sugar Bowl in 2012.

Strong eventually took the job at the University of Texas, but was fired in 2016 after three sub-par seasons in Austin going 16-21.

We have repeatedly written that Strong is a candidate to jump to a Power 5 school, in part because he has been privately frustrated and complaining about USF’s lack of an indoor practice facility and other upgrades. That includes a grand plan to have an on-campus football stadium for the Bulls, which is currently in the early fundraising stage.

One critical component is that USF is unable to pay Strong what he has been making previously at the University of Texas and would potentially make at a program like Maryland enticing. Strong’s contract has been structured the last couple of years so the Texas was paying more than 90% of it in the form of the over  $8 million dollars that they still owed him.

That goes away after this year and USF would be on the hook for his full salary starting in 2019, and it’s not likely that the Bulls can start paying Strong even in a new contract $3 – 4 million per year.

One more factor is the daunting end to the Bulls schedule. That includes a road game at Temple, a home game with Cincinnati and then, the critical matchup hosting UCF in the regular season finale.

If Strong is not successful in most of those games, then, some of the luster will come off of his coaching star.

Still, it is interesting that the  national media is bringing up his name for the Maryland opening.

Meanwhile, the Bulls will try to get back on the winning track when they host Tulane on Saturday night.

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