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New USF Bulls coach Skip Holtz must now fill out his staff

TAMPA — New football coach Skip Holtz's first challenge will be to form an ideal coaching staff from his former assistants at East Carolina and the staff that worked under Jim Leavitt in 2009.

Holtz had great continuity at East Carolina. All nine of his assistants had worked with him for at least three seasons. But he said Friday he will keep some portion of Leavitt's staff, which will help maintain continuity and aid in recruiting around the state.

"Obviously, they're doing a lot of things right," he said. "I'm not looking to come in and reinvent the wheel.

"I'm looking to build on the success that this program has already enjoyed. I don't think you can do that unless you know how they got here and what they're doing. That's going to mean retaining some of the present coaches. I just don't know which ones it's going to be at this point."

Holtz should have at least one opening on the defensive staff. His East Carolina coordinator, Greg Hudson, is now the linebackers coach at Florida State. Another assistant, defensive tackles coach Thomas "Rock" Roggeman, took a medical leave of absence for most of the 2009 season with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Others on his East Carolina staff have strong ties to the school's town, Greenville. Co-offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler has stayed through four coaches; he isn't guaranteed a position with the new coach. Running backs coach Junior Smith is an East Carolina graduate; he, too, might seek to stay in Greenville.

Defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator Vernon Hargreaves will join Holtz's USF staff, WECT-TV in Wilmington, N.C., reported. Hargreaves spent eight seasons as an assistant at Miami, including with its national championship team in 2001, and one at Florida International.

USF offensive coordinator Mike Canales, hoping to earn a position on Holtz's staff, has pulled his name out of consideration for the offensive coordinator job at FIU. Canales had spoken with Panthers coach Mario Cristobal but hopes he can stay in Tampa.

Canales' wife, Carol, has multiple sclerosis, and they would like to stay close to her doctors here.

CONSISTENCY: USF has been known for its strong starts and midseason slides in the past three seasons. Holtz had no such problems at East Carolina. His teams went 12-3 in November and December over the past three seasons. He said he wants consistency from his players.

"You put it on a solid foundation. You build it on rock, and I think it's got a chance to stand for a long time rather than just being a flash-in-the-pan success, winning one game or two games," Holtz said.

"It's a matter of playing week in and week out, playing season in and season out, to build the type of program we want to build at the University of South Florida."

THIS AND THAT: Holtz is 2-0 in Raymond James Stadium. He was part of father Lou's South Carolina staff when the Gamecocks beat Ohio State in Outback Bowls after the 2000 and 2001 seasons. … Holtz said he will honor all scholarship offers extended by the previous staff and accepted with oral commitments. Recruits who have offers but remain undecided will be re-evaluated.


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The buzz begins

It didn't take long for the Skip Holtz bandwagon to get going. Tampa store It's Bucs & Bulls Heaven has come out with a "Got Holtz?" T-shirt, which is available now online at The shirt will be available Monday in the store, 14823 N. Florida Ave. Also, USF has placed a billboard along Interstate 275 west near downtown Tampa that says, "Welcome Skip Holtz."

New USF Bulls coach Skip Holtz must now fill out his staff 01/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 11:29pm]
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