The USF Bulls have a lot to play for today. They’re heading into a matchup against a ranked conference opponent, in hopes to keep their bowl eligibility alive. Except, no one wants this game more than a group of 17 guys taking the field in Raymond James on final time in Green and Gold. Before the 4 pm kickoff with Memphis, South Florida will be honoring their seniors who’ve made a huge impact for USF football in one of its winningest stretches in program history.
— USF Football (@USFFootball) November 23, 2019
Though the past season and a half has brought its share of hardship for South Florida, the majority of their tenure as a Bull has been as one of the best teams in the American, winning 70.5 percent of its games (36-15), setting the AP record with 24 straight games scoring 30+ points, making four consecutive bowl game appearances with two notable bowl victories over Power 5 opponents, Texas Tech and South Carolina.
Among the group of guys being honored are RB Jordan Cronkrite, DE Kirk Livingstone, QB Blake Barnett, RB Trevon Sands, and TE Mitchell Wilcox, who’ve all seen huge success both on and off the field at USF. So far, 11 of the seniors have already earned their degrees, and another 5 will have theirs by the end of the semester.
A win in their final home game would be the perfect way to cap their time in the Bulls program. It would also be their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2016, and a win over Memphis could largely affect the AAC Title game contenders.
While the regular season is coming to a close quickly, South Florida still has two huge opportunities ahead of them, the first being today, to have the chance to not only make their presence felt in the conference and potentially dethrone the American West leader, but reclaim the “War on I-4” title against UCF the following week.
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.