Charlie Strong is in his second season as the head coach at South Florida, and there are whispers this will be Year 2 of 2 for him in Tampa. Strong is 58 — a young 58 — and, after a successful 4-year run at Louisville and an unsuccessful 3-year stint at Texas, it’s natural to wonder if Strong would use his USF tenure as a catapult to one last run at a Power 5 job.
However, that’s not the case, according to Strong.
“What people need to realize is that I’m not here to run out,” Strong told the Tampa Bay Times. “People think I’m going to run out. Once people see I’m here to run this program, we can build on it. I want to be here. I really am happy to be here.”
Inheriting a 10-2 team from Willie Taggart, Strong entered his USF tenure with sky-high expectations. The Bulls were No. 19 in the 2017 preseason AP poll — the only mid-major to appear in the poll — and expected to run the table and win the Group of 5’s Peach Bowl bid.
Instead, USF went 10-2 and was overtaken by War on I-4 rival UCF. The AAC East Division race came down to the final game, where the Bulls went to Orlando and overcame an early 21-7 deficit to carry a 34-28 lead into the fourth quarter, but lost to UCF, 49-42.
Franchise quarterback Quinton Flowers has graduated, and it’s time for Strong to roll his sleeves up and build a program. He says he’s ready to do just that.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Strong said. “But we just haven’t built that consistency year in and year out, where fans know we’re going to be good. It’s a tough sell. Even with the media. But if they see something good in the program, they’ll jump on board. … It’s about gaining a foothold.”