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Texas booster's plane bound for Tampa. Is Strong on it?



A private plane owned by a prominent University of Texas athletics booster landed at Tampa International Airport around lunchtime Friday.

Glaring question: Was Charlie Strong, the man USF is pursuing as its future football coach, on it? Passengers de-boarded on the side opposite a waiting area, making it virtually impossible to see who was aboard.

The plane's owner, Gary H. Martin, is the father of a former Longhorns catcher. Martin reportedly sat in on at least one interview when Texas was pursuing a new baseball coach this past summer.

Texas dismissed Strong, 56, as its coach after three seasons in November. The relationship between Martin and Strong is unclear, but considering USF's hiring of Strong would save the Longhorns some money, it may stand to reason a booster would allow Strong use of his plane.

Texas still owes Strong roughly $10 million, which equates to the final two years of base salary, according to terms of his contract. If he lands another job during his payout period, he must pay Texas 50 percent of what he earns at his new position, the contract states.

The flight's arrival coincides with a report by 247Sports' Josh Newberg that Strong is expected to be in Tampa today. Newberg, citing an unnamed source, also reported former Bulls coach Willie Taggart is trying to hire the former Texas and Louisville coach as his defensive coordinator at Oregon.

Meantime, USF president  Dr. Judy Genshaft's official itinerary for Friday included nothing from noon-2:30 p.m. except one item entitled "Lunch."

Elsewhere, Houston announced it has hired Cougars offensive coordinator Major Applewhite as its new coach, replacing Tom Herman. The significance for USF fans? Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, considered by some to be a viable candidate for the Bulls opening, was a finalist for the UH job.

If talks between USF and Strong fall through, Kiffin may -- or may not -- be a USF target.

[Last modified: Friday, December 9, 2016 12:50pm]


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