Michael Kelly got his man.
Speaking at an event formally introducing Jeff Scott as the new head coach of the University of South Florida football team, the Vice President of Athletics said that Scott was “unequivocally our first and only choice.”
“There are certain characteristics I was looking for, and as we talked to people throughout the country, it became ever more clear that (Scott) met those characteristics,” said Kelly. “I just feel in all my heart that he’s the right fit at the right time to lead the USF football program forward.”
Scott, 38, is currently co-offensive coordinator at Clemson University, a job he will continue doing through the upcoming College Football Playoff.
Despite struggles over the last year and a half – USF went 4-14 in Charlie Strong’s last 18 games as head coach – Scott thinks the coming decade could be the best one in USF football's history.
But he warns that’s only if players, coaches, administrators and fans all buy-in.
“This is not a broken football program by any means,” Scott said. “It just needs to be united, to get everybody on the same page, share that same vision, and really to have that standard - best is the standard.”
Scott, who signed a five-year, $12.5 million contract with USF, said he wants a number of things for his players, beginning with them graduating and being prepared for life after football.
But until then, he wants them to have fun and win championships.
“If you’ve noticed anything watching Clemson the last few years, we win at the highest level” – the Tigers have made the last five College Football Playoffs, winning national championships in 2016 and 2018 – “but we have fun doing it and we’re going to do that here.”
Kelly called Scott’s boss at Clemson, head coach Dabo Swinney, shortly after firing Strong December 1. Swinney immediately reached out to his assistant and encouraged him to take the job.
“‘Let me tell you, this is one of them jobs you want,’” Scott said, recounting his conversation with Swinney. “‘Great university, great location, great conference, great recruiting base right in your backyard, you can win there.’”
Also enticing, Scott said, are USF’s plans for the future. The school is trying to raise money for an indoor practice facility, with the possibility of an on-campus football stadium still very much on the table.
“It's always about what's next - and to be honest, the whole situation with the facilities, that's one thing that made me want to come here even that much more, because there's the opportunity to grow,” he said.
Scott met with a number of USF football players Wednesday morning.
“I saw a group of young men that were hungry, a group of young men that wanted to win, a group of young men that wanted to go to work,” he said. “I told them to…get some rest and get your mind right, and when we get back in January, it’s going to be time to go to work.”
Scott plans to start recruiting for USF immediately, with a focus on the Tampa Bay area and Florida.
Scott, the son of former South Carolina head football coach Brad Scott, played football at Clemson from 2000-2002 and has served as an assistant under Swinney since 2008.