Five takeaways from the Charlie Strong introduction
Five quick takeaways from Charlie Strong's inaugural USF press conference/pep rally, held Thursday morning at the Marshall Center:
1. In what might have made a few of his new administrators wince, Strong volunteered he's a proponent of an on-campus stadium. Makes one speculate whether USF had to give Strong a degree of assurance it's seriously working toward an on-campus venue before he signed on.
"Like I've said to you guys before, we're all over it," athletic director Mark Harlan told reporters after Strong's address.
"We're in the middle of a study right now looking at various different options on campus. We understand that's a very big, important part of where this program needs to go, and we're gonna continue to aggressively check into it and try to get one done."
2. Boy, does Strong know the area. He quickly endeared himself to at least four of the local high school juggernauts by dropping the names of area prep coaches Robert Weiner (Plant), Earl Garcia (Hillsborough), Sean Callahan (Armwood) and Bill Castle (Lakeland).
"One time when I was at the University of Florida, I signed six players off (Lakeland's team)," Strong said. "There's enough (local) talent, it's just making sure we evaluate it the right way and you get players that fit your program. There's more than enough talent within this area."
3. In a sound bite strikingly similar to ones Taggart emitted during USF's resurgence, Strong made a not-so-subtle plea for community support.
For those who haven't been keeping score: Average actual attendance for USF's seven home games this past season was 27,887, according to the Tampa Sports Authority. Subtract the FSU game, and that figure dips to 23,787.
"You've got to have the support of the community," Strong said.
"I look at our players and I think about what they've put into it, and there's no reason for them, when they walk into a stadium and the stadium (isn't) packed. I mean, let's go watch 'em play. A lot of times we sit back and say we've got something else to do. Really, if there was somebody else you'd probably go watch 'em play, so hey, come and watch us play."
4. He's already up to speed on USF's 2017 recruiting class. Strong said he already has spoken with every high school senior who has verbally committed to USF (15).
"A lot of times I call and I just say, 'Hey, what's up.' And they say, 'Who is this?'" Strong said. "I say, 'This is Coach Strong,' then the conversation kind of gets in that (more serious) tone of voice."
5. A day after we reported a majority of Strong's staff likely will consist of his former Texas assistants, Strong danced around a question regarding the makeup of his USF staff. He didn't really address how many -- if any -- current Bulls coaches he'll retain, but the fact he'll observe some of the Bulls' bowl workouts may serve as an on-field interview for some.
"I met with the staff earlier and I had a chance to sit down with them, and there are some guys I'd love to bring with me," Strong said. "But when you look at a staff that has won 10 games, you look at the job they've done, and they ought to be commended for the work they've done."