TAMPA, Fla. — Well now, he said all of the right things to the large crowd sitting in chairs with all those pairs of eyes facing him. He wanted to install confidence, he sounds like he knows what he is talking about and that is exactly the impression left behind by the new University of South Florida football coach Charlie Strong.
University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft and Athletic Director Mark Harlan extended the hospitality, a couple of hearty hand shake and then the introduction to the crowd welcome to the fourth football coach in University of South Florida’s history.
When former football coach Willie Taggart left the USF program, Harlan wasted no time in searching and finding the right candidate to replace Taggart.
Harlan is feeling comfortable in the decision about hiring Strong.
Harlan is comfortable and confidence that he found the right person, a person that can push forward the growth of the USF program. Harlan believes that he has someone that shared the same philosophy, a person could strengthen the core values and mission statement of USF.
Harlan describes Strong as a natural competitor, tough, discipline, intelligent and has a strong passion of those things that he holds dear like family and his players.
“He is an excellent family man with tremendous character whose players and coaches respond to him,” Harlan said. “His teams achieve success on and off the field because they gravitate toward him because that is the type of leaders he is.”
Strong stood behind the podium and looked out toward the crowd that had gathered together inside the Marshall Student Center waiting to hear the words that would promise a better future for USF football.
Strong told the crowd that he expects each player on the roster at USF to graduate, that the Bulls will compete and win American Athletic Conference Championships and he said that he wants his players to be ready and be prepared to thrive in life after football.
Strong is acquainted with state of Florida after spending 15 years as an assistant coach on the Urban Meyer’s staff at the University of Florida.
“Florida is a state where football is king,” Strong said. “We will recruit players that fit this university and we will recruit players that fit the program.”
Strong met with the players before the meeting at the Marshall Student Center, inside the Leroy Selmon Athletic Center and as you would expect there was some apprehension in the atmosphere but all of that changed soon after Strong said, “hello.”
Linebacker and team captain Auggie Sanchez was a player that listen and then greeted his new coach with a brand new sense of dedication toward playing defense for the Bulls.
“It’s going to be some fun times here at USF,” Sanchez said after the team meeting. “He is a good guy, he is a good dude and we’re glad to have him as our leader.”
Senior defensive tackle Bruce Hector will only be eligible for one season to be playing for Strong and he said that you can feel the excitement in the room when he is talking about USF football.
“It gets me really excited for next season,” Hector said. “Right now we/re focused on getting 11 but right now it just makes me excited for when he actually does come in.”
For the fans of the University of South Florida football it might take Strong a little longer to convince them that he knows what he is doing when it comes to coaching a college football team.
Nothing about Strong’s performance can’t be fairly judge yet at least not until after Dec. 29, and the Birmingham Bowl is just a pleasant memory.
“This is for sure a program on the rise.” Strong said at the conclusion of his introduction at the Marshall Student Center. “I’m really excited to be here!”
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.