clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The USF Coaching Odds Board: Bet on Charlie Strong’s Replacement!

When we get the chance to mix our love of GAMBOLLLLLL and a USF head coaching search, we move all-in. Let’s go!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 05 CFP National Championship - Clemson Media Day Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


With our 10-year Anniversary (!!) coming next January 30th, we’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of now FOUR coaching changes at USF, but for the last three, we’ve found a way to make them more interesting.

We combine our loves of the Bulls green and the gold sheet to help you find out who the next head coach of the University of South Florida will be. Welcome to Odds Board 3.0!

We’ll keep this page updated as things change, and will highlight in bold when changes happen, but here we go!

Tony Elliott 7-2

Current Job: Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson University

Last Job: Wide Receivers’ Coach, Furman

Pluses: Half of most dynamic offense in football. Terrific recruiter. Been a part of the winningest culture in the sport this decade.

Minuses: No head coaching experience. Can out-talent nearly everyone in their conference. And why does it take like 5 games for Clemson’s offense to heat up every season, like an old furnace?

This might be the home run, but can USF get him? He’s a super-sharp guy (graduated with Clemson’s best player GPA in his class in engineering) and has been in the mix before for jobs, like Georgia Tech last year and others. Considered a rising star in the profession, well-liked, and he will be a head coach someday. But is that time now?

Can he recruit Florida? Considering he got Deon Cain (Tampa Bay Tech), Ray Ray McCloud (Sickles), and plenty of other 813 kids national championships in Nowhere, South Carolina... we think he’d be fine in that department.

Jeff Scott 9-2

Current Job: Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson University

Last Job: Wide Receivers’ Coach, Presbyterian

Pluses: See above

Minuses: See above

An eerily similar resume to Elliott: both played at Clemson, both have been at Clemson about the same amount of time (Scott since 2008), and both are coveted rising stars in the profession. But Scott doesn’t recruit Florida as much as Elliott, so why would you go this way when there’s a guy with better FL ties available with basically the same resume?

He’d for sure be a home run too, but maybe Elliott is a smidge better fit?

Jeff’s father, Brad, is a USF graduate.

Larry Scott 6-1

Current Job: Assistant Coach, Tight Ends Coach, University of Florida.

Last Job: Special Teams Coordinator, Offensive Coordinator, Tight Ends Coach, University of Tennessee.

Pluses: Former USF assistant coach and player. Bleeds green and gold by all accounts. Did a nice job as interim coach at Miami after Al Golden was fired.

Minuses: Didn’t exactly light the world on fire at Tennessee... but like Butch Jones, how is that his fault?

If loyalty to this school and program matters, getting one of the OG’s from the 1997 team would be phenomenal for USF. The buy-in from program alumni would be off the charts if he came, and his resume makes him the first guy that played for the team that could reasonably be considered a candidate. And he might not up and leave for a P5 at the first sign of success either.

The heart wants what it wants, and God we (see: Collin) want this so badly. But we just don’t know him, only what people tell us about him. And those people think he might be a fit, but that’s up to MK to decide.

Willie Taggart 12-1

Current Job: None.

Last Job: Head Coach, Florida State.

Pluses: Rebuilt the program from the flaming bag of crap Skip Holtz left behind. Won 10 games at USF, the first coach ever to do it. Left the most loaded team in school history when he bounced for Oregon. Much like Charlie Strong, will be flush with buyout cash for awhile which might make him more affordable.

Minuses: Everything he’s done since leaving, including leaving Oregon after one year for FSU, who then fired him after 20 games.

It seems pretty clear he’d like to return.

Otherwise his name wouldn’t be getting bandied about both locally and nationally. Is this a good idea, though? When you get divorced, how often does the second marriage to the same person ever work out? You could point to Bill Snyder or Bobby Petrino (for awhile) as reunion success stories... but you could also point to Randy Edsall or Greg Schiano (in about four years).

Willie landed Marlon Mack, brought in Rodney Adams and Marques Valdez-Scantling and Deatrick Nichols and Mitchell Wilcox and Tyre McCants and on and on and on. He stuck with Quinton Flowers as a QB when no one else wanted him there, and built the most dynamic offense in school history around him. Does he make mistakes? Sure. But he’s the best recruiter you’ll ever see on any list like this.

Still don’t think it’s happening.

James Coley 18-1

Current Job: Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach, Georgia.

Last Job: Offensive Coordinator, Miami, Florida State.

Pluses: Monster recruiter in Florida.

Minuses: Georgia’s offense seems to be really underperforming. Picked Jake Fromm over Justin Fields. Whiffed on every QB recruit outside of Jameis Winston.

Coached high schools in the 305, has been at FSU and Miami as an assistant, and has won a lot in four years at Georgia.

But with all that talent, the UGA offense really hasn’t looked great in his two years as OC. That might matter less than his ability to recruit at USF, and when you’ve been selected as the #1 SEC recruiter in South Florida... you’re clearly doing something right.

Maybe not a long-term fit as this guy has higher aspirations, but he really might help get USF’s talent levels back to where they should be.

Kerwin Bell 25-1

Current Job: Offensive Coordinator, USF

Last Job: Head Coach, Valdosta State

Pluses: Won a D-II national championship less than one calendar year ago.

Minuses: Diiiiiiiiid you see USF’s offense this season?

It’s no secret that this blog thought Kerwin could be the guy to get it turned around for USF on offense, and it is absolutely true he didn’t have a lot of pieces to implement his scheme. But it’s not like the Bulls showed much improvement as the season progressed either. It’s tough when Blake Barnett goes down early, Jordan McCloud is clearly playing hurt all year, no one can block, and almost no one can catch. Still, when you score 10 points or less six times in 12 games, giving him the head coaching job would be a real tough sell politically.

He’s done well in recruiting, but when Brian Jean-Mary was named the interim coach today... we think that showed where Kerwin is in the pecking order, at least for the big chair.

Eliah Drinkwitz 30-1

Current Job: Head Coach, Appalachian State.

Last Job: Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach, NC State.

Pluses: Killing it at App State already.

Minuses: Only one year of head coaching experience.

Listed here because a man we very much respect, the best beer creator in Tampa, thinks this is a good idea. Shoutout Cigar City and Rock Brothers, we love ya!

Kalen DeBoer 30-1

Current Job: Offensive Coordinator, Indiana University.

Last Job: Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach, Fresno State University.

Pluses: Won three national championships as head coach at USF (University of Sioux Falls).

Minuses: Only one year as a P5 coordinator.

One of the more interesting names on our list. No one gets more talent out of Florida than his boss Tom Allen, and if you’ve watched IU this year (with and without Tampa’s Michael Penix), you know they’re not very Indiana anymore. #9WINDIANA might actually happen and that is crazy.

A young up-and-comer in the profession, and one of those under-the-radar type guys that can sneak into a process like this. We heard this name and were instantly intrigued. We’ll see if there’s anything to it.

Lane Kiffin (40-1) (Update: Off the Board)

12/7: The Lane Train is headed to Oxford, MS.

Current Job: Head Coach, Florida Atlantic University.

Last Job: Offensive Coordinator, Alabama. Head Coach, USC, Tennessee, Oakland Raiders

Pluses: Well-regarded offensive mind that has revolutionized the way Alabama moves the football. Had a 10-win season at USC in the middle of punitive NCAA sanctions. About to win his second C-USA title in three years on Saturday.

Minuses: More baggage than a trust fund kid on a month-long tour of Europe.

This would be a move USF’s previous administrations wouldn’t even consider, but there’s zero track record amongst Steven Currall and Michael Kelly. It doesn’t seem like a fit, but it’s not crazy enough where we’ll post a number. He’s making $1.4 million to live on the water in Boca right now, and USF would be stretching to double that. Add in USF’s facilities issues, and it’s probably not a fit where he can possibly bide his time and get a lower-tier P5 gig sometime soon.

But his Dad and family live in Tampa, and he knows the area. Longshot, but not impossible.

Gene Chizik 50-1

Current Job: None.

Last Job: Defensive Coordinator, North Carolina. Head Coach, Auburn, Iowa State.

Pluses: Won a national championship at Auburn.

Minuses: Where the hell has he been the last, like, 7 years? Is he bringing Cam Newton with him? Michael Dyer was down.

Born in Tarpon Springs, coached at both UF and UCF, and rumor is he’s been hanging out at Bucs practices as of late. Apparently wants back in the profession, and as a re-tread... I guess you could do worse? Sometimes after guys do some TV they figure more things out and are more prepared... not sure that’s the case here, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Had “no idea” that Cam Newton got $180,000 to win him a national championship. Right.

Donnie Abraham 200-1

Current Job: None.

Last Job: DB coach for Orlando Apollos, University of Illinois. Defensive coordinator at IMG. Head coach at Clearwater High School, Gibbs High School

Pluses: Knows the Bay Area well. Has college experience. Has NFL experience and is well-connected in the coaching realm.

Minuses: Just the one year of college experience. Too defensive-minded for college football today?

Donnie’s son, Devin, started over 30 games for USF between 2014-2017. There’s an instant connection there with the program. He likely won’t get a sniff on the job, but he’s more plausible than the next two people on this list. Having Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith as coaching mentors can’t be overlooked either.

Jim Leavitt 500-1

Current Job: Quality Control Analyst, Florida State University.

Last Job: Defensive Coordinator, University of Oregon.

Pluses: The statute of limitations for obstructing a university investigation has lapsed, meaning he can’t be charged for lying to it. Won nine games a few times.

Minuses: Lied to a university investigation. Tried to get others to lie for him. Ran his players so hard in practices and got them into such emotional frenzies that they had nothing left in November. Got outmaneuvered by Randy Edsall on several occasions. Really intense. Scares co-workers sometimes.

Just stop it. Seriously. Y’all act like Leavitt was your first girlfriend from high school. It’s embarrassing.

Rich Bisaccia 6412-1

Pluses: The Tampa Bay sports media: boy does he know them!

Minuses: Everything else, plus Duemig is no longer with us to recklessly promote his “candidacy.”

Tale as old as time, tune as old as song...


A pretty good chance we don’t know who the new coach is yet, and that it might be someone not on this list.