Strong First Among American Conference Coaches in Sporting News Ranking

Press Release


Bulls’ second-year coach ranked among top three in Florida and top 25 percent of 130 FBS coaches nationally


TAMPA, JUNE 15, 2018 – USF Head Football Coach Charlie Strong stood first among coaching peers in the American Athletic Conference and among the top three in the state of Florida in rankings of all 130 FBS coaches published by Sporting News.


The rankings, produced by Sporting News national college football writer Bill Bender, had Strong at No. 33, placing him among the top 25 percent of all FBS coaches. Strong ranked first among coaches in The American, as he stood 12 spots ahead of Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo, ranked No. 45. Memphis’ Mike Norvell (No. 56), Houston’s Major Applewhite (No. 90) and Temple’s Geoff Collins (No. 92) rounded out the top five rankings among coaches in The American.


Strong stood third in the rankings among FBS coaches in the state of Florida, all of which are in their first or second season at their respective program. Miami’s Mark Richt (No. 6) and Florida’s Dan Mullen (No. 21) where ranked ahead of Strong, while Strong’s USF predecessor and current Florida State head coach Willie Taggart came in at No. 35 followed by FAU’s Lane Kiffin (No. 43), FIU’s Butch Davis (No. 67) and UCF’s Josh Heupel (No. 96) among the seven FBS coaches in the state.


USF posted a 10-2 record, downed Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl and finished No. 21 in the final AP and Coaches polls in Strong’s first season at the helm, continuing a program-record 20 straight weeks appearing in the national Top 25 rankings. USF’s offense ranked No. 6 in total offense (513.0 ypg), No. 8 in rushing (264.1 ypg) and No. 10 in scoring (38.3 ppg) in 2017. The defense made huge strides in its first season under Strong and first-year defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary to rank in the Top 25 nationally in six categories and leap from 120th in total (482.0 ypg) and 92nd in scoring defense (31.6 ppg) in 2016 to 37th in total (359.8 ypg) and 41st in scoring defense (23.5 ppg) in 2017.


A two-time Big East Coach of the Year while leading Louisville to conference championships in 2011 and 2012 and a victory in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl, Strong is leading his third program after head coaching stints at the University of Texas (2014-16) and Louisville (2010-13).  He was also a vital part of two national championships as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.


USF has posted a 21-4 record the last two seasons, made three straight bowl game appearances, posted back-to-back 10-plus win seasons and defeated an SEC and a Big 12 opponent in its last two bowl games.



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USF posted its second straight 10-win season in 2017 (10-2) by winning its second straight Birmingham Bowl with a 38-34 victory over Texas Tech. USF is one of just 14 teams nationally to win 20-plus games in the last two seasons (21-4) and has spent a program-record 20 straight weeks ranked in the top 25, reaching as high as No. 13 in Week 8 of the 2017 season. The Bulls have won five of their last six bowl appearances and made nine (6-3) total bowl appearances in 21 seasons, including a current run of three straight bowls. USF won a program-record 11 games in 2016 (11-2) and has posted 14 winning seasons. The USF program, which first took the field in 1997, reached No. 2 in the rankings in 2007 and has seen 28 players selected in the NFL Draft, 14 named All-American and had 32 first-team all-conference selections.


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