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Charlie Strong Set to Become Next USF Head Coach

After the departure of Willie Taggart, USF wasted no time in targeting and landing Charlie Strong as their next head coach.

NCAA Football: Texas at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Just days after the departure of Willie Taggart to Oregon, USF wasted virtually no time in targeting one candidate for the vacancy. And they got him.

As first reported by Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel, Charlie Strong will be the next head coach at South Florida, with both sides agreeing to a five-year deal.

The speculation began on Thursday evening when Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders reported that the school had ‘zeroed in’ on Strong as their top candidate and had already begun negotiating his contract.

This escalated on Friday when Strong visited Tampa to meet with USF officials, traveling with Texas booster Gary H. Martin to possibly run through the details of his Longhorns buyout. (Texas owes Strong $10 million in base salary over the next two years, but would receive half of his compensation at whatever job he found next.)

Now after a few days of deliberation, Strong will become the fourth head coach in program history, and will inherit a roster loaded with returning players for 2017.

Strong first made his name known around the state of Florida as UF’s defensive coordinator during the Urban Meyer era, helping the Gators win two BCS National Championships and coached the likes of future NFL’ers Brandon Spikes, Janoris Jenkins, and others.

He would use his recruiting skills and Florida ties at his first head coaching job at Louisville to recruit guys like Teddy Bridgewater and lead the Cardinals to back-to-back 11-win seasons and a Sugar Bowl win over those same Gators after the 2012 season.

Strong’s tenure at Texas was always tenuous, as he never seemed to fully click with shadow clubs of Texas boosters with cartoonishly oversized cowboy hats the UT administration. Despite delivering back-to-back top ten recruiting classes, he was shown the door on November 26 after a pair of 5-7 seasons.

We’ll have more on this as more details come out, but this is a home run for Mark Harlan and company. The fact that they were in position to pull this off so quickly (and, apparently, without using a search firm) should tell you they had this planned out weeks in advance in the event of Taggart leaving.

Welcome Coach Strong. Totally looking forward to breaking out this gold cowboy hat photo numerous times.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports