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Strong words from Charlie Strong, but do you believe him?

By Martin Fennelly
USF head football coach Charlie Strong talks to the media during a news conference at USF . OCTAVIO JONES | Times

"I want to be here next year."

Strong words. Literally.

Believe them?

Those were USF coach Charlie Strong's words on Tuesday, and if you want to hold him to them, Bulls fans, go right ahead.

I want to be here next year.

Pants on fire?

But what was Strong supposed to say when asked point blank if he wanted to return for a second season amid all the swirling rumors about the vacant Florida job?

Of course, Strong wants the Florida job. Of course, he wants the keys to that orange and blue kingdom. Of course, he doesn't want to end his career at USF. It's a stepping stone. It was for Willie Taggart. That's USF's lot in life.

Welcome to Coaching Carousel 101: Take bad fall (Charlie at Texas). Get back on smaller horse (Charlie at USF), ride into sunset (Charlie to Florida).

But this is weird.

How weird?

Strong might be competing with the man he replaced at USF. Taggart is in his first year at Oregon, and just 5-4, but his name is gaining traction in Florida chatter.

Ever think we'd see a day when USF coaches were being talked about for the Florida job?

Strong is winning at USF with Taggart's players. Wouldn't it be something if Taggart interviewed at Florida and Strong didn't?

Then there is the fact that one-loss USF ends the regular season at ranked UCF, pitting strong against Knights coach Scott Frost, one of the hot young names in the profession.

Winner goes to Florida, right?

Strong won't get the Florida job. He has true ties to the school, having coached there 15 years served in any number of positions in his tours there, including defensive coordinator on two national champions under Urban Meyer.

Key word: defensive. That works against Strong, even after his years at Louisville, where the Cardinals made with the points and even toppled Florida in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. And USF is averaging 39 points per game this season.

I'm just not seeing Strong getting the job. I don't think he moves the needle up there, especially after his recent swing and miss at Texas.

Charlie said he wants to stay at USF. But we know what he thinks of the USF facilities or lack of them. We know the difference between Group of Five and Power Five.

Florida should interview Strong. So should Ole Miss and Arkansas if Arkansas has an opening. Str.ong was born and raised in Arkansas

I'd be stunned if Strong got the Florida job.

Repeating Strong's words:

"I want to be here next year."

I'd be surprised if he was at USF next season.

I wouldn't blame him for leaving.

Would that make him a liar?

All's fair in love and coaching.

USF knew what it was getting into when it hired him. This is part of that.

Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] or (813) 731-8029