On Thursday morning the Charlie Strong era of USF football officially began, as the new head coach was introduced to the masses in Ballroom A of the Marshall Student Center.
USF Systems President Judy Genshaft got things started, followed by Athletic Director Mark Harlan:
#USF president Judy Genshaft on the hiring of Charlie Strong: "He demands the best on the field, in the classroom and in the community."— Jeff Odom (@jeffodom) December 15, 2016
USF AD Mark Harlan shouts out the football team for their patience during the transition period pic.twitter.com/oyK7XCp70k— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) December 15, 2016
With all the hubbub about the hiring of Strong, both he and Harlan made sure that to remind people that this year isn’t complete. There’s still a bowl game to win, which would make the Bulls 11-2 for the first time in school history.
Harlan and Genshaft teamed up and crushed this hiring process by all accounts. It’s hard to recover from losing a very successful head coach like Willie Taggart and still not miss a beat, but at first glance it appears that way.
New USF coach Charlie Strong takes the stage pic.twitter.com/4Rb9L8GRh2— Vinnie Portell (@VJPortell) December 15, 2016
Charlie Strong on how he'll recruit against the Big 3 pic.twitter.com/ygi25Di3BQ— Josh Newberg (@joshnewberg247) December 15, 2016
Coach Strong has said he's been able to tak to every recruit that has committed to the program.— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) December 15, 2016
Strong was hired one day before the NCAA’s December recruiting dead period, but he made sure he got in contact with coveted prospect Bruce Judson, who coincidentally got an offer from Oregon on the same day Strong’s hiring was announced.
This press conference got won when Charlie Strong shouted out the head coaches at Hillsborough, Armwood, & Plant HS by name.— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) December 15, 2016
Strong has deep ties to the state of Florida which will help him on the recruiting trail, especially in south Florida where he was able to pluck guys like Teddy Bridgewater and Eli Rogers from the Miami area and take them to Louisville.
"There's no reason why we don't go out and compete for championships year in and year out," Strong said.— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) December 15, 2016
Strong will be around practice leading up to the bowl game, but he will give interim head coach T.J. Weist the space he needs to do the best job he can do. Weist told local media yesterday that he’d love to stay on when Strong takes over after the bowl. Strong said he has not made any decisions on who he will bring over from Texas and who he will keep from the current Bulls staff. It also remains to be seen who Taggart will try to take from the staff to Oregon. He’s made one splashy hire that hits a little too close to home for Bulls fans.
Strong brought up the prospect of having an on-campus stadium in the future and Harlan said they are in the middle of a feasibility study on the topic right now.
Harlan told media today that Strong will be at the bowl game in his suite. He also said that there’s a $2.5 million retention bonus for Strong if he stays at USF for year three. That part of the deal wasn’t in the contract released on Wednesday.
The $2.5 million Strong retention bonus in Year 3 comes from athletic department-generated funds, not student fees, per @MarkHarlanUSF— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) December 15, 2016
Mark Harlan confirms that USF used a search firm to hire Charlie Strong: Eastman & Beaudine, the same firm used by USF to hire Harlan.— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) December 15, 2016
Harlan said the search firm was used to “make sure we had other candidates that were able to be part of the process if we needed to go there.”
Those other candidates weren’t necessary because Harlan and the Bulls got their man. Welcome aboard Coach Strong.