The bar has been set high for South Florida as Charlie Strong prepares for his second season at the helm of the Bulls. Focusing on establishing an unmistakable identity for the program to avoid any confusion on the recruiting trail with rival UCF, Strong is not shy about saying what will or will not work for South Florida this season.
“People think UCF,” Strong said in a story published by The Tampa Bay Times. ” ‘Hey, aren’t you on that team that went undefeated?’ A lady in Atlanta asked us that. I told her no, we weren’t that team.”
“I don’t know the number, but we have to have a good year,” Strong added. “We had 11 wins and 10 wins the last two seasons. … No, 7-6 won’t work this season.”
South Florida, complete with new uniforms this season, has some legitimate question marks on the roster but the Bulls do have enough in them to put together a solid season once again. Will it be good enough to get ahead of UCF? That remains to be seen, but getting the Knights at home in the regular season finale could be beneficial for Strong. The bigger question at hand is what a successful season could do for Strong on the job front. After landing at South Florida after being removed as the head coach of Texas, many have wondered if Strong will eventually return to a power conference job again. Only he may know for sure what his ambitions are, but he is certainly saying all the right things as South Florida’s coach right now.
“What people need to realize is that I’m not here to run out,” Strong said. “People think I’m going to run out. Once people see I’m here to run this program, we can build on it. I want to be here. I really am happy to be here.”
Strong has power conference program coaching experience, of course, between his stints at Louisville and Texas, and a successful run at South Florida would likely keep his name on some radars once the coaching carousel opens up between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and any offseason after as long as he sticks around in Tampa.
With Florida officially on the market for a new head coach of the football program, it has not taken too long for the rumor mill to get moving. The Florida gig figures to see a number of familiar names attached to it during the rumor season, some more realistic options than others. This is also a time to never take anything for granted but also a time not to place too much faith in every little thing you read. With that in mind, Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin took to Twitter to confront one rumor head on.
Houston radio personality Marc Ryan shared an update on his Twitter feed claiming Florida has reached out to representatives for former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, former Oregon, and NFL head coach Chip Kelly and current USF head coach Charlie Strong to speak about the open posiiton in Gainesville. According to Ryan, he says these are the top three options on the wish list for Florida.
On the surface, it would make sense for a school like Florida to contact these coaches. One is a former coach with a national championship to his name. The other was one of the top coaches in the Pac-12 before taking a stab at the NFL (and failing miserably, but so did former Florida coach Steve Spurrier). And the last one is a former Florida assistant who has redeemed his coaching pedigree a bit this season at USF, one of the top Group of Five contenders right in the state of Florida.
But just as this is the time of the year to spread coaching rumors on the internet, it is also denial season from ADs and other school officials. And Stricklin certainly had quite the denial ready to go once he saw this one making the rounds.
The quote by Edgar Allen Poe comes from a short story, “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether,” that originally was published in a November 1845 issue of Graham’s Magazine. Even if the original report from Twitter has any validity, this is exactly what you would expect an AD to say regarding his coaching search. But at least he had some fun with it by pulling a classic quote from a literary master.
It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.
As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.
Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.
For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.
Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;
- Chad Morris +300
- Derek Dooley +500
- Blake Anderson +700
- Les Miles +800
- Mike Norvell +1000
- Brent Venables +1200
- Scott Frost +1400
- Chip Kelly +1400
- Neal Brown +1600
- Lane Kiffin +1600
- Mike MacIntyre +1600
- Charlie Strong +1600
- Willie Fritz +2000
- Bryan Harsin +2000
- Bobby Petrino +2500
So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.
Charlie Strong may be taking over a new program this fall, but he will do so in a familiar role as preseason favorite. The preseason media poll was released by the American Athletic Conference today, and Strong’s USF Bulls were the runaway favorite to win the conference championship in 2017. USF swept the first-place votes in the AAC East Division and took 26 votes out of 30 to win the conference championship.
Strong returns to the conference where he previously made a name for himself as a head coach, dating back to the conference’s days as the Big East. In Strong’s first season as head coach at Louisville, the Cardinals were picked to finish last in the conference, to which Strong reflected on how he had never been picked to finish last before. Soon enough, Strong, with the help of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, quickly ascended the ranks of the Big East and developed into a top contender in the conference. At USF, Strong once again has one of the top quarterbacks in the conference with Quinton Flowers, and these Bulls are locked and loaded for a run to a conference title. After a disappointing experience with Texas, USF appears to have everything in place for Strong to quickly prove he can still coach, and now the bar has been placed as high as it can within the conference.
UCF is also expected to improve this season, as the Knights were picked second in the division behind the in-state rivals from Tampa. Defending conference champion Temple, with a first-year head coach in Geoff Collins, was picked third in the East Division by the media.
In the West Division, Memphis enters the year as the prohibitive favorite after receiving 22 first-place votes. Houston picked up six votes, and Navy and Tulsa each picked one one of the remaining first-place votes from the media.
AAC East Division
- USF (30 first-place votes)
- East Carolina
AAC West Division
- Memphis (22)
- Houston (6)
- Navy (1)
- Tulsa (1)
- USF (26)
- Houston (2)
- Memphis (1)
- Navy (1)
As noted by the AAC, the preseason conference favorite has ended the year as the conference champion just once in the four years of the existence of the AAC. Cincinnati was picked as the 2014 preseason favorite and ended the season in a three-way tie with UCF and Memphis. In 2013, Strong’s Louisville team was picked to win the conference, but UCF ended the year as conference champion. Louisville did go 12-1 that season, with the lone loss coming against the Knights, who went on to beat Big 12 champion Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.
USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.
“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”
The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.
Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.