It’s official… Charlie Strong has coached his final game as the USF head football coach. The news comes just two days after the Bulls humiliating 34-7 loss to rival UCF in the War on I-4 on Friday.
BREAKING: Staff members at USF being informed Charlie Strong is out, per source.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) December 1, 2019
Confirmed: Charlie Strong out at #USF
— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) December 1, 2019
Strong was hired in December of 2016 after being let go from Texas. In his first year in Tampa, he went 10-2 in year one after inheriting a star-studded roster from former head coach Willie Taggart.
Since then, the Strong era has been anything but strong for the past season and a half. Their most recent loss to rival UCF was their fourth straight to end the year and Strong’s team limped to the finish line at 4 – 8.
Strong entered the year with lots of speculation and it only grew worse when they opened the season with a humiliating 49 – 0 loss to Wisconsin. That led to a road loss at lowly Georgia Tech and being wiped out by SMU and Navy previously. Then, they were blown out at home by AAC west division champion, Memphis, 49-10 on senior day. And, that led to UCF ending their season with another rout Friday.
When you combine this season with losing the remaining six games a year ago, that’s 14 losses in the last 18 games played for Strong’s teams. Friday night was also the fifth loss by 27 points or more for USF this season.
After the game, Strong was asked whether he believed he would be back for a fourth year, to which he responded, “I have no idea.”
Since then, the media has been waiting to see if USF Athletic Director Michael Kelly, who was hired last year, would get rid of the former Texas and Louisville coach or give him one final shot to turn it around in 2020? It looks like he’s decided it would be better to start fresh and give fans something to be hopeful for heading into the off season.
Strong is reportedly owed at least $5 million for the remaining two years on his five-year deal that he agreed to in December of 2016.
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.
USF officially hires Clemson coordinator Jeff Scott
The USF Bulls coaching search to replace Charlie Strong lasted only eight days and his replacement has a National Championship pedigree.
The school announced late Monday afternoon that they have hired Clemson offensive coordinator, Jeff Scott, to become their fifth head coach in program history:
Great Scott! We got our guy!
Jeff Scott named head coach of USF football.
— USF Football (@USFFootball) December 9, 2019
Scott, who actually shares the offensive leadership with Tony Elliott, will receive a five year deal to leave the Tigers and come to West Central Florida.
Bulls atheltic director Michael Kelly said in their statement about the hiring of Scott,
“Jeff is a very bright, enthusiastic and driven leader for our program and we are thrilled to welcome him to USF and back to Florida, where he was born and where he has recruited so well for Clemson for many years,” Kelly said.”
“He is a young and extremely gifted offensive mind, a developer of high-level talent and an elite national recruiter who brings the experience of having played an integral role from the beginning in helping to build one of the most successful programs in college football.
“We are thrilled that he and his wife, Sara, and their daughter, Savannah, are joining our Bulls family and will be part of the exciting future of USF football.”
As we wrote last night, Scott is Clemson through and through, as he played for the Tigers in the early 2000s for three years and returned to become a coach for the Tigers in 2008. Since then, he has been a receiver’s coach, recruiting coordinator, and now to co-offensive coordinator.
The Tigers, behind All-American QB Trevor Lawrence, just rolled through a second straight unbeaten season and a Saturday night 62-17 blowout win over Virginia in the ACC Title Game. The Tigers will play Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on December 28th in one of the College Football playoff semi-finals.
Scott will reportedly stay and coach the Tigers in the CFP Playoff bid, as they attempt to repeat as National Champions.
Further, there’s some more that USF fans can be excited about: Scott’s successes with wide receivers. He has helped develop some great NFL prospects like DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Williams. He currently has one of the best groups in the country.
After years of the inconsistent offense, it appears that the Bulls leaders felt a change in philosphy was needed.
Scott tweeted this photo Monday evening with his daughter showing him signing an agreement with USF:
— Coach Jeff Scott (@coach_jeffscott) December 9, 2019
Scott will bring knowledge of coaching from Clemson, as well as his stint as a high school coach. His father Brad, was also a coach in college, spending time as an offensive coordinator himself at Florida State, then onto South Carolina, and settling at Clemson.