On the eve of Charlie Strong’s formal introduction as head football coach at the University of South Florida on Thursday morning, Strong was scheduled to meet with his new team and the Bulls’ current coaching staff.
The news conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
Attempts by the Herald to reach members of USF’s coaching staff Wednesday were unsuccessful. While no word on the meetings with players or coaches had leaked online Wednesday evening, initial reports following former head coach Willie Taggart’s departure said the Bulls’ coaching staff was staying intact through the Birmingham Bowl.
Wednesday, though, was still busy.
On the recruiting front, wide receiver commit Jernard Phillips reportedly was planning to enroll in January after a conversation with Strong, according to Rivals.com.
The Tampa Bay Times published details of Strong’s contract, which was a back-ended deal. That means Texas will pay Strong millions over the next two years as he coaches South Florida. According to the Times, the five-year, $9.8 million dollar deal pays Strong a base salary of $500,000 each of the first two years (and $1 million overall each year).
As a result of firing Strong, Texas is obligated to pay Strong his base salary in each of the remaining two years of his contract with the Longhorns. With Strong taking another job, Texas’ payments to him are reduced by 50-percent of his salary in his new position. Based on his USF contract, the most Texas will save from the more than $10 million it owes Strong would be $1 million.
After Texas’ obligations end in 2019, Strong’s salary increases to $2.5 million.
Meanwhile, Strong’s contract calls for an assistant coaches’ compensation pool of $1,660,000 in 2017. The pool rises to $2.25 million in 2018, $3.4 million in 2019 through 2021. That 2017 total represents a significant decrease from 2016, when USF’s assistant’s compensation pool was $1.911 million in 2016, according to USA Today’s NCAA salaries data base.
In comparison, Texas had an assistant coaches pool of $4.583 million in 2016. Central Florida’s assistant pool was $2.14 million and Florida’s was $4.53 million.
The decrease in the assistant’s pool has raised speculation in social media and on the airwaves that Strong plans to bring some of his Texas staff, which may also have language in their contracts dictating payouts by Texas over the next couple of years.
Back in Texas, the Strongs’ 10,000-plus square foot home in Austin was put up for sale on Wednesday for $4.99 million.
Meanwhile, Taggart hired former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt as his defensive coordinator at Oregon.
Leavitt, who coached at USF from 1997 through 2009, served as defensive coordinator at Colorado the past two seasons. The Buffaloes went 6-18 and allowed an average of 38.6 points per game in the two seasons before Leavitt joined coach Mike MacIntyre’s staff. In Leavitt’s two seasons at Colorado the Buffaloes went 4-9 and 10-3, while giving up averages of 27.5 and 20.5 points per game, respectively.
Leavitt’s hire at Oregon puts two of the three former Bulls coaches together on the staff. Skip Holtz (2010-12), who is the head coach of Louisiana Tech, is the third individual to have served as USF’s head coach.