So, what happens when a team hits rock bottom? Some changes need to be made. When this happens at the college level the changes start with the coaching staff. At this level, the players can’t ask for a trade because they don’t like the new coaching staff. Well, this event has happened for the University of South Florida. The USF Bulls have hit rock bottom. The last two seasons under former head coach Charlie Strong haven’t been good. In 2018, the Bulls won their first seven games. Then the tires fell off as they lost the final five regular-season games and their bowl game. That bowl game, the Gasparilla Bad Boys Mower Bow,l which is played at Raymond James Stadium, their home stadium. Then, this year after the spring game, the Bulls looked like they put 2018 behind them.
Unfortunately, the start of the season said otherwise. It began on a nice Florida summer evening. I wish the game had been as nice as the night was. Instead, the Bulls got blown out 49-0 in front of a packed crowd that was mostly there to see the Wisconsin Badgers. After that game, both the coaching staff and players had to answer the questions. In the end, most of them said we just got outplayed and we need to be better in Week 2. That game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets came down to a missed call that cost them a win. Now the Bulls were 0-2 and had lost eight games in a row. Going into the last few weeks of the season they needed one win to be bowl eligible. The Bulls lost all three including two blowout losses to the Memphis Tigers and the UCF Knights.
With that, athletic director, Michael Kelly decided to dismiss Charlie Strong. The next question is who the new coach for the South Florida Bulls would be. Kelly said he would handle the selection process himself. The decision didn’t take long because his selection was coaching for one of the top programs in the country. Now, Charlie Strong was a defensive-minded coach, so Kelly went out and said let’s go to the other side of the ball. So, he hired co-offensive coordinator from the Clemson Tigers Jeff Scott. The same Jeff Scott that has helped put the Clemson Tigers in three out of last four National Championship games winning two of them. The Tigers head coach Dabo Sweeny directly called Scott and told him this was the right job, so he agreed to become the new head coach for USF.
Here is the background on the four new major coaches for the Bulls.
Head Coach: Jeff Scott
Jeff Scott becomes the fifth head coach for the University of South Florida. He has been with the Clemson Tigers since 2015. Clemson is his alma mater. Like I said above, he was part of one of the most and probably still a dominant Clemson Tigers program. The last time Scott was on the sidelines at Raymond James Stadium he coached the Tigers to a 21-point comeback to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 to win their first of two national championships. That was Tigers’ first championship in 35 years. Coach Scott is energetic and is the spark the program needs. He is much better than Charlie Strong with the media and fans. His goal when he first took the podium was, “we need to come together and bring the program back to where it was during the Jim Levitt era.” Scott was the right decision.
Offensive Coordinator: Charlie Weis Jr.
Now many thought that Scott would bring back Kerwin Bell as the offensive coordinator. Bell served under Charlie Strong. But Scott decided he wanted to make a change and bring in his coaching staff. He went out and hired Weis who had the same position at Florida Atlantic University. He had been at FAU for two seasons. Weis was under head coach Lane Kiffin which helped the Owls to the 2019 Conference USA Championship. The offense for the Owls was in the top 20 in all of college football. They ended their season at 11-3 with a dominating win over SMU Mustangs 52-38. In the game, the Owls put up 522 yards including 333 through the air and 33 unanswered points. Weis will help a Bulls offense that struggled for most of the season. In some games, it looked good, in others terrible.
Defensive Coordinator: Glenn Spencer
Spencer became the first assistant hired by Jeff Scott. Like Weis Jr., he also was at FAU. He led the Owls defense to move up 40 spots in the nation. Along with Weis’ offense, it helped the Owls to great 2019 season. Spencer filled in for Lane Kiffin after he left to go take the head coaching job at Ole Miss. He was at the helm when they beat SMU. His defense had an interception and a scoop and score. He will help a defense at USF that many looked down on when the season started. But witnessing it in person, the defense gave the offense many opportunities to win or come back in games. He will help build the defense and make it better.
Special Teams: Daniel Da Prato
Now here is a position that many feel isn’t important to any team. The USF Bulls missed many field goals and struggled on special teams. Da Prato is coming from the Arkansas Razorbacks. He served one year under two different head coaches, Chad Morris and Barry Lunney Jr. The Razorbacks ranked 10th in the nation averaging 17.29 yards per return. They were also in the top 20 in punt defense and 26th in returns averaging 11.5 yards per return. He will help an area that needs a lot of improvement. These additions to the coaching staff look to be what the USF Bulls need to move the program forward.
How do you think the coaching staff will do in 2020? Leave a comment below.