Saturday, December 16, 2017
Colleges

Fennelly: Is Charlie Strong the anti-Freeze?

The Hugh Sleaze era at Ole Mess is over.

Hugh Freeze resigned as head football coach Thursday to avoid being fired by Mississippi school officials. For those of you who had NCAA violations and investigations in the pool, you were wrong. Nor was the reason the defamation lawsuit filed against the school by former Rebels coach Houston Nutt. Might have been eventually, but it wasn't what brought Freeze down.

Rather, it was Lena.

For those of us playing at home, a Google search reveals that "Lena" was the name attached to a phone number reportedly dialed by Freeze, who is married with three children, on a university-issued cellphone. The number is used to help advertise websites for a female escort service. The number is no longer in service.

Wait — it's a Tampa-based escort service.

The City of Light strikes again.

There's more to this local hook, in a roundabout way. Mind you, not in a naughty way, but a college football way. And that brings us to the Tampa-based head coach.

USF fans' heads are exploding over Bulls coach Charlie Strong being mentioned as a possible successor to Freeze.

Strong hasn't coached a game for USF. He hasn't even inflated the footballs for Monday's first preseason practice.

This is madness. Strong isn't going anywhere. No way.

At least this season.

I bet if Lane Kiffin down at Florida Atlantic received a call from Ole Miss, he'd be there yesterday. On Friday he was already following four Ole Miss-related Twitter accounts. Move over Lena, here comes Lane.

Let us pause to reflect on the Sunshine State, where coaches' careers go to live and die and live again. Remember 2003, when sleazy Mike Price lost his gig at Alabama before he ever coached a game by being sighted in a Pensacola strip club and running up $1,000 in hotel room service with an unidentified woman who was not Price's wife? All roads and folded hundred-dollar bills lead to Florida.

And let us reflect on the Sunshine State, safety net for coaches trying to kick their careers back into gear. George O'Leary found success at UCF after fudging his resume for the Notre Dame job. It took years, but Butch Davis went from being fired amid an academic scandal at North Carolina to head coach at Florida International.

Strong is generally considered to be clean as a whistle. But the Ole Miss chatter, though crazed, reminds us that we just don't know how long he'll be around.

Strong was a great hire by USF. Consider his work at Louisville and the top-notch defenses he fielded at Florida. But what if USF plays lights-out, even runs the table in Strong's first season? Ignore this Ole Mess nonsense but there will be Charlie suitors.

That's the crazed world of college football. USF and its fans accepted that, or should have, when Strong was hired. He is going to be mentioned when big jobs come open. With any kind of success this season, people will be phoning Tampa. And they won't be asking for Lena.

Comments

Tim Tebow wants to help throw you a tailgate wedding (sausages included)

Tim Tebow loves weddings.He apparently also loves football, tailgate parties and a good brat, which might explain why he’s lending his pitchman talents to a contest that ties all four together.In a promotional video, Tebow asks, "What happens when yo...
Published: 12/14/17
River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

River Ridge grad Chris Schwarz on brink of Division II title with West Florida

Two years ago, Chris Schwarz was mulling over his college choices. The former River Ridge High standout had offers from Valparaiso, Florida Tech and West Florida. West Florida?That one baffled Schwarz, mostly because he knew nothing about the school....
Published: 12/14/17
Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket. Yet of the four schools descending on ...
Published: 12/13/17
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17
Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

No matter what happens on the field at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the star of the show will be the bloomin’ onion. Not the deliciously crispy, glistening, 1,900-plus-calorie appetizer served at Outback restaurants, but the person who parades t...
Published: 12/06/17
Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

TAMPA — Back home in Indiana, he was basketball royalty. He played in his first league at age 2. He lived — and loved — the hardwood life. He was accustomed to performing before more than 10,000 fans for his big games.Pat Bacon capped his storied pre...
Published: 12/06/17