It’s been quite the stunning fall from grace for Charlie Strong after a painstakingly slow climb up the coaching ranks.
Landing his first head-coaching job in 2010 at the age of 49, Strong used 11- and 12-win seasons his last two years at Louisville to secure the high-profile gig at Texas in 2014; three straight below-.500 seasons led to his dismissal in 2016. Landing on his feet at South Florida, Strong proceeded to win 10 games his first season with the Bulls in 2017; that would prove to be the high point of his USF tenure up to this point as the AAC football program has been in a tailspin ever since.
With a 34-7 loss to in-state rival UCF Saturday night, the Knights dropped to 4-8 on the season. And, with that same loss, Strong’s record over his last six seasons as a head coach has dropped to an even 37-37; take out the first season with the Bulls, and that mark plummets to 27-35.
- 2014 — Texas, 6-7
- 2015 — Texas, 5-7
- 2016 — Texas, 5-7
- 2017 — USF, 10-2
- 2018 — USF, 7-6
- 2019 — USF, 4-8
At just over $5 million, Strong is easily the highest-paid head coach in the AAC — Houston’s Dana Holgorsen is next at $3.7 million — and is 16th among all FBS coaches in the USA Today salary database. Strong is finishing up the third year of a five-year deal; it’s unclear exactly what his buyout is as he has a contractual “arrangement with the USF Foundation, a direct-support organization, [details of which] are confidential and exempt from disclosure under Florida law,” the Tampa Bay Times wrote earlier this year.
Strong is due a $2.5 million retention bonus this year that’s a part of his guaranteed 2019 compensation. In the final two years of his contract, Strong is scheduled to make $2.6 million in 2020 and $2.7 million in 2021.