After two of the most successful offensive seasons in South Florida history, the Joe Kinnan era is over in Tampa. The former Manatee High School head coach will not be retained by new head coach Charlie Strong, Kinnan told the Herald on Wednesday.
Kinnan said he still hasn’t given much thought to his future. The 70-year-old will leave South Florida along with nearly all of the offensive staff, which contributed to a record-setting season in 2016.
“We’ll see what happens,” Kinnan said. “I’m not a spring chicken anymore, but we’ve got a president coming in who’s 70, so just because you’re old doesn’t mean you can’t contribute.”
Kinnan was hired by the Bulls before the 2015 season by former head coach Willie Taggart, who played for one of Kinnan’s five state championship-winning teams at Manatee. South Florida set the program’s single-season yardage record in 2015 and shattered the mark again in 2016 by averaging more than 500 yards per game.
Kinnan’s role diminished slightly between his first and second seasons. In 2015, he kept an apartment in Tampa and was hired to help Taggart totally overhaul the Bulls’ offense into a spread system, which was a rigorous, time-consuming task. In 2016, he commuted from Bradenton, and was limited by an ankle replacement and vertebrae fusion during parts of the offseason. Taggart’s legacy will be South Florida’s offensive success, though, and Kinnan played a critical role in that legacy.
“It’s very fulfilling,” Kinnan said. “The kid are great, the coaches I worked with are great. It was just a great experience.”
The past two seasons weren’t Kinnan’s first stint at the college ranks. Before his career with the Hurricanes, Kinnan was the offensive coordinator at Eastern Kentucky, helping the Colonels win the Division I-AA national championship in 1979. There were, however, a fitting way to come full circle. Kinnan was a finalist to be the Bulls’ first head coach in 1997, eventually being passed over for Jim Leavitt. At 70, the unorthodox role of the past two seasons consultant suited Kinnan, and he helped No. 19 USF win 11 games for the first time in school history this past fall.
“It was sort of fun to go back and not have to recruit off campus,” Kinnan said. “It’s kind of like two jobs.”
Kinnan’s departure means Shaun King is the only member of last year’s offensive staff who will work for Strong and even he is moving from quarterbacks coach to running backs coach. The Bulls finalized their offensive coaching staff Wednesday with the hires of Justin Burke as tight ends coach and Matt Mattox as offensive line coach. Burke will also coach special teams and Mattox will serve as the run game coordinator.
The new offensive staff is almost entirely built of coaches who spent the past season with Strong in Texas. Mattox was the offensive line coach in Austin, Texas, and Burke was a quality control special assistant working with the Longhorns’ tight ends. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sterlin Gilbert held both positions at Texas last fall. New wide receivers coach Charlie Williams, who was hired earlier this week, held the same position with the Longhorns, although he has ties to Tampa. Williams coached the Buccaneers’ wide receivers from 1996-2001.
Running backs coach Donte Pimpleton is the only member of last year’s Bulls staff to follow Taggart to Eugene, Ore., so far. Official announcements have not yet come on the futures of former offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach T.J. Weist, tight ends coach David Reaves. Darren Hiller, the offensive line coach last fall, has accepted the same position at Houston.
South Florida also continued to build its defensive staff Wednesday with the addition of Corey Bell as defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator one day after officially settling on Brian Jean-Mary as defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and linebackers coach to replace Palmetto native Raymond Woodie.
The school also announced Mike Giglio as its new director of player personnel. He replaces David Kelly.