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USF gets Kerwin Bell to call plays- and uncertain future

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The story of South Florida and Charlie Strong getting Kerwin Bell as offensive coordinator begins with this simple point: Sterlin Gilbert did have to go.

Few USF fans would argue with the claim that Gilbert, who helped Strong at Texas and did a good job with Quinton Flowers, lost his fastball and needed to find a new place of employment. His timid and unimaginative approach to the biggest game of the year, the Nov. 23 game against UCF in which the Knights were highly vulnerable due to the McKenzie Milton injury, sealed his fate.

USF did not perform well in its bowl game against Marshall, but games against Marshall don’t define seasons at USF. Games against UCF do. Gilbert flunked that rivalry game, and Charlie Strong needed to change his play-caller.

We can all (or almost all) agree with that.

As it turns out, Gilbert got hired as McNeese State’s head coach.

That meant the Bulls needed find someone to lead an offense that sputtered it’s way to six straight losses.

Here is the problem: Charlie Strong has a history of not choosing elite offensive coordinators. More precisely, he has a history of having to make second hires of OCs, as a head coach.

Strong hired Mike Sanford, Sr. (not Jr.) at Louisville. That didn’t work out. Strong pivoted to Shawn Watson, who benefited from nothing more — or less — than the simple fact that Teddy Bridgewater was the quarterback during his tenure as Strong’s second offensive coordinator at Louisville. When Strong moved to Texas, he took Watson with him.

Spoiler alert: Bridgewater did not play at Texas. Texas did not perform well on offense with Watson as the play-caller.

Strong went to Jay Norvell (now the head coach at Nevada) to replace Watson as the offensive play-caller at Texas before he then endured the public humiliation of begging Gilbert to leave Tulsa and join him at Texas. The protracted drama underscored how much Strong had struggled at UT, and how far the Longhorns had fallen.

When Gilbert did improve the Texas offense (but not enough to help Strong stay at Texas, due to many defensive lapses), Strong felt a sense of loyalty to his assistant, enough to take him to USF. The Quinton Flowers offense largely did what it was supposed to do, including the game at UCF which turned into one of the classic games of the entire 2017 college football season. This year, though, the house fell down.

“Charles in Charge” means that Charlie Strong had to replace yet another offensive coordinator, and to be more specific, for bad reasons, not good ones.

Nick Saban constantly has to replace offensive coordinators at Alabama because they get NFL OC jobs or college head coaching jobs. Safe to say, Strong replaces his offensive coordinators for different reasons.

What to make of Kerwin Bell? He is a name older football fans in the state of Florida remember well — and fondly — due to his years as the Florida Gators’ star quarterback. Had Florida not been hit with NCAA and SEC penalties due to various violations under Charley Pell (whose tenure preceded Bell’s playing career) and then Galen Hall, Bell might have led Florida onto the field in one or more Sugar Bowls He was robbed of that opportunity, but the quality of his performances spoke for itself.

Bell, as head coach, led Valdosta State to an unbeaten season this past year and the Division II national championship. He has been around the block, coaching at various levels of college ball plus the CFL and high school. He is 53 years old and a true survivor in the football industry. In addition to his many stops along the way as a coach, he also carved out a professional playing career which lasted over a decade — not bad for a seventh-round pick at No. 180 in 1988.

Bell could be really, really good, and personally, I am cautiously optimistic about the move.

Yet, Kerwin Bell isn’t really the main story here. The main story is that Charlie Strong had to replace another offensive coordinator for the wrong reasons.

Strong can only hope that this offensive coordinator will stick. He needs it to happen.

Otherwise, his head coaching career will end before too long.

USF Bulls

Report- Alabama will hire Charlie Strong as consultant

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Former USF coach Charlie Strong has decided on a new role for the upcoming 2020 season, and it won’t be in Gainesville.

ESPN college football insider Chris Low reported Tuesday morning that Strong has agreed to join Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama as a defensive “consultant” for this season

As we wrote last week, Strong had visited Saban and the Tide about the possible position on his staff, while considering a similar opportunity to join either Dan Mullen’s Gators staff or a couple of others in a consulting role. None of this will affect the nearly $3 million that USF still owes him as the buyout on the final two years of his contract.

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 about a week later 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.

However, USF informed Strong in his termination letter that the amount would be approximately $3 million under clauses in his deal.

Saban has a history of taking in former head coaches to come to Bama and observe and assist as a consultant with either his offense or defense. He’s done this for the last two years with former Tennessee coach Butch Jones and obviously, took in both Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian both of whom had been fired as coaches by USC at different stages.

Strong is known is an outstanding defensive coach from his previous days, as the Gators defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. He later went on to success at the University of Louisville before taking The the Texas head coaching job in 2014.

Strong was fired after three seasons in Austin in 2016, but immediately hired by USF to replace Willie Taggart.

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USF Bulls

Former USF coach Strong to be consultant for Alabama?

Florida Football Insiders

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

And intriguing item popped up Friday morning involving former USF head coach Charlie Strong and him visiting Nick Saban the Alabama football program.

According to Alabama Insider and radio host, Aaron Suttles, Strong, who was dismissed last December after his third season with the Bulls, was in Tuscaloosa Thursday meeting with Saban and his staff:

Strong had also been reportedly talking with the University of Florida about a possible consultant role, which likely would not affect the nearly $3 million that USF still owes him as the buyout on the final two years of his contract.

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 about a week later 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.

However, USF informed Strong in his termination letter that the amount would be approximately $3 million under clauses in his deal.

Saban has a history of taking in former head coaches to come to Bama and observe and assist as a consultant with either his offense or defense. He’s done this for the last two years with former Tennessee coach Butch Jones and obviously, took in both Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian both of whom had been fired as coaches by USC at different stages.

Strong is known is an outstanding defensive coach from his previous days, as the Gators defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. He later went on to success at the University of Louisville before taking The the Texas head coaching job in 2014.

Strong was fired after three seasons in Austin in 2016, but immediately hired by USF to replace Willie Taggart

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