An eventful eight days for the University of South Florida football team saw them accept a bowl game bid, lose head coach Willie Taggart to Oregon and then replace him with a new leader - Charlie Strong.
USF released a statement Sunday afternoon saying the former University of Texas coach would be taking over the Bulls. Strong will formally be introduced as the coach Thursday, Dec. 15, at 10:30 a.m. in the USF Marshall Student Center.
While the statement didn't include many specifics, ESPN reported that Strong signed a five-year contract. Financial terms also were not disclosed.
Sunday's announcement came three weeks after Strong was fired at Texas. He had served as head coach from 2014-2016 (16-21 record) and at the University of Louisville from 2010-2013 (37-15).
Strong reportedly met with USF officials Friday and Saturday and had been targeted by a number of other colleges. ESPN said Strong spoke to Taggart over the weekend, with Taggart wanting Strong to join Oregon as defensive coordinator.
The Bulls are scheduled to play Texas in 2020, and Louisville posted a 3-1 record against USF while Strong led the Cardinals.
Strong previously served as an assistant coach at the University of Florida on four different occasions, acting as interim head coach for the 2004 Peach Bowl. He worked at Florida for a total of 11 seasons, including the national championship teams in 2006 and 2008.
He also was an assistant at South Carolina, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Southern Illinois.
“I would like to thank (USF) President (Judy) Genshaft and (athletic director) Mark Harlan for their confidence and belief in me,” Strong said in a statement released by USF Athletics Sunday.
“I am humbled that we have a shared commitment to take this university and this football program to even greater heights. Some of the best football talent in the country is right here in the Bay Area and throughout the state of Florida, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with the young men in the USF football program and build on the strong foundation already in place.”
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Charlie, his wife, Vicki, and their children Tory, Hailee and Hope, back to the state of Florida and to our Bulls family,” Harlan said in the same statement. “Charlie is a tremendous leader and mentor for our student-athletes and a widely-respected coach with a resume full of achievements at the highest levels of college football. He combines a drive to win with great integrity and deep, long-standing connections in the state of Florida. The future of USF football is very bright under his direction.”
“We are especially excited to welcome Charlie Strong to the University of South Florida,” Genshaft added. “He joins our football program at an incredibly exciting time, and we look forward to seeing him build on our ongoing foundation and momentum. The board of trustees and I believe he brings outstanding leadership and experience, and is sure to be a tremendous resource to the entire USF System.”
The Bulls (10-2, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) began practicing Sunday for the Dec. 29 the Birmingham Bowl against South Carolina. Co-offensive coordinator T.J. Weist will serve as interim head coach.