Bulls dis­miss Strong af­ter 3 sea­sons

Coach sacked when team fails to qual­ify for a bowl game for first time since 2014

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS MONDAY - By Matt Murschel

USF has fired coach Char­lie Strong fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing 4-8 season.

“I would like to thank Coach Strong and his staff for their hard work and con­tri­bu­tions to our pro­gram,” ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Michael Kelly said in a state­ment con­firm­ing the news. “I have tremen­dous re­spect for Coach Strong and his ded­i­ca­tion to re­cruit­ing and devel­op­ing young men of tal­ent and char­ac­ter and lead­ing them with in­tegrity. He has rep­re­sented USF with dig­nity and class and we wish Coach and his fam­ily the very best.

“I met with our stu­dent-ath­letes and staff today to in­form them of my de­ci­sion and to make clear USF’s com­mit­ment to a cham­pi­onship-cal­iber foot­ball pro­gram that re­cruits and de­vel­ops stu­dent-ath­letes and pro­vides the re­sources and sup­port for them to achieve great suc­cess in com­pe­ti­tion, in the class­room and in the com­mu­nity.”

Strong spent three sea­sons at USF, tak­ing over the pro­gram fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Wil­lie Tag­gart in 2017. In his first season with the Bulls, he led the team to 10 wins and a top-25 rank­ing. The fol­low­ing year, the team won seven games be­fore los­ing its fi­nal six con­tests.

USF was picked to fin­ish third in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence East Divi­sion this season by the me­dia, but the Bulls lost three of their first four games. The team won three of its next four games be­fore drop­ping its fi­nal four games, in­clud­ing a 34-7 loss to host UCF Fri­day night.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken was the first to report the news that staff mem­bers were be­ing told that Strong was out as head coach.

This is the first time that USF hasn’t qual­i­fied for a bowl game since 2014.

Kelly, who is in his se­cond year as the USF’s ath­letic di­rec­tor, said the school will be­gin a na­tional search for its next head coach.

“Be as­sured that the process will be de­lib­er­ate and will move with the nec­es­sary speed. I will

CHRIS O’MEARA/AP

USF coach Char­lie Strong led the Bulls to a 10-2 record and a top-25 rank­ing in his first season be­fore fall­ing to 7-6 in 2018 and 4-8 in 2019.

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