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USF firing football coach Skip Holtz after 3-9 season



TAMPA -- USF will announce the firing of football coach Skip Holtz at a news conference at 4 p.m. Sunday, ending his run with the Bulls after three disappointing seasons.


Holtz, whose teams went 1-6 in the Big East in each of the last two seasons, lost nine of his final 10 games, including a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh in Saturday's home finale. His dismissal comes less than six months after he was given an extension by athletic director Doug Woolard, who now must pay Holtz $2.5 million over the remaining five years on his contract.

The Bulls have missed bowl games in each of the last two years, and will move quickly to find just the third coach in their 16-year history. Holtz, who won two Conference USA titles at East Carolina, was never able to put USF in contention in the Big East, finishing with a 16-21 overall record in hs three seasons.

Holtz, 48, had expressed hope Saturday night that he would be allowed to return for another season, but understood that the results on the field over the last two years have not been what he has wanted from the Bulls.

"I'd certainly like to be," Holtz said, asked if he expects to be back. "There's been a lot of hard work that has gone into this, through players, coaches. There's a lot of underclassmen on that field ... a lot of young talent on the field. I understand the hardened position we've put a lot of people in, with the record that we have. ... I understand the nature of this business is to win games."

Holtz had came to USF in January 2010 after the program's only coach, Jim Leavitt, was fired after allegedly striking a player during halftime of a 2009 game; he subsequently agreed to a $2.75 million settlement. Holtz's teams had impressive individual wins -- at Miami in 2010 and in a bowl win against Clemson that same season, then at his alma mater, Notre Dame, to open the 2011 season.

After a 4-0 start last season, the wheels came off for the Bulls, who dropped seven of their last eight games to finish 5-7 and miss a bowl game for the first time since 2004. With a strong senior class led by quarterback B.J. Daniels, USF was picked to finish second in the Big East in the preseason, but struggled from the start, needing a last-minute rally to win at Nevada in its second game.

From there, the Bulls lost nine of the next 10 games, including three losses in which the Bulls led late, only to see opponents drive 75 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the closing minutes. The Bulls ended a six-game losing streak with a home win against Connecticut, but struggled in the last three games after losing Daniels to a season-ending ankle injury.

In the last three games, USF took lopsided losses at Miami (40-9) and Cincinnati (27-10) before Saturday's home loss to Pittsburgh, which saw the offense muster only 117 yards, an all-time low in the Bulls' 16 seasons.

We'll update with details as they come.

[Last modified: Sunday, December 2, 2012 3:38pm]


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