USF football head coach Charlie Strong has been fired after three seasons, according to a Sunday university press release.
Strong’s departure from the program comes less than 48 hours after the program suffered its third consecutive loss to the Knights.
USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly relieved the third-year coach his duties Sunday and immediately began a national search for a new leader for the Bulls’ football program, according to the release.
“I would like to thank Coach Strong and his staff for their hard work and contributions to our program,” Kelly said in the release. “I have tremendous respect for Coach Strong and his dedication to recruiting and developing young men of talent and character and leading them with integrity. He has represented USF with dignity and class and we wish Coach and his family the very best.”
Strong took over for the Bulls to start the 2017 season. Under his leadership, USF finished 21 – 16 in three seasons.
Kelly said he met with the student-athletes to ensure his message that USF’s commitment to a championship-caliber football program was clear.
“We know our best is ahead of us. We have a passionate fan base, compete in a tremendous conference, reside in a beautiful and booming community steps away from the nation’s top football talent and have great momentum toward building a transformative football center that will enhance our impressive facilities,” Kelly said in the release. “We remain committed to achieving excellence at the highest level.”
The USF football program completed its 23rd season in 2019, with 10 total bowl game appearances under four head coaches in program history.
Strong marked the best two-year start by a head coach in program history with a 10-2 victory over Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl in his first year at the helm, according to the UCF game notes.
The 10-2 overall record, the 20-week Top 25 ranking and the bowl game victory weren’t in his first season wasn’t enough to make Strong’s second-season loss to Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl hurt any less.
The Bulls went 7-6 overall under Strong in his second season and fell to 4-8 overall in his third season. This will mark the first time since 2014 the Bulls are bowl-ineligible.
“I fully support the decision to reorient our football program in a new direction,” USF President Steven C. Currall said in the Sunday press release. “We are committed to excellence across all aspects of the University, including USF Athletics. I am confident that our search will result in a new head coach who will lead our student-athletes to great achievements on and off the field.”
Kelly said a national search is underway.
“Be assured that process will be deliberate and will move with necessary speed,” Kelly said in the release. “I will have no public comment regarding candidates or the progress of the search until it is complete and we introduce the new leader of our program.”
Megan Turner contributed to this story.
This story has been updated with new information and is still developing.