Monday, December 11, 2017
Colleges

USF football coach Charlie Strong's record on discipline defended

General sentiment is that Judge Margaret Taylor blasted away at the wrong target.

In publicly reprimanding new USF football coach Charlie Strong on Wednesday during a bail hearing for Bulls defensive end LaDarrius Jackson, arrested on sexual assault charges, Taylor lashed out at a coach with a history of zero tolerance for such behavior.

Not to mention minimal tolerance for other off-field malfeasance.

A USF alumnus whose remarks from the bench drew national attention, Taylor declined an interview request with the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday morning and has removed herself from Jackson's case.

Meantime, many have rushed to Strong's defense, citing his disciplinary track record that includes nine player dismissals in his first eight months as coach at Texas from 2014-16.

"You can say a lot of things about Charlie Strong: not enough attention to detail, not good enough coaching hires," said Chip Brown, an Austin, Texas, radio host who covers the Longhorns for hornsdigest.com. "But the one thing you can't call him is someone who ignores discipline."

Two Bulls players, Jackson and safety Hassan Childs, have been arrested since Strong's hiring in December. Childs, who suffered a gunshot wound during a road-rage incident in which he was charged, was booted off the team while hospitalized. Jackson has been suspended from all team activities. Neither player was recruited by Strong.

His swift action following the players' arrests followed his well-chronicled pattern of strictly upholding the "core values" he has instilled at all three of his head coaching stops: honesty, treat women with respect, no drugs, no stealing, no guns.

"Core values are something that has always been a part of us," Strong told Texas Monthly in July 2014. "It's the way we've been raised."

RELATED STORY: Carlton: USF football and the judge who judged (w/video)

He seems especially sensitive to treating women with respect. A married father of two girls, Strong dismissed two Texas receivers — Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander — after both were arrested on sexual assault charges in July 2014.

Sanders was found not guilty in a 2015 trial. Prosecutors dismissed the case against Meander. Still, neither played for the Longhorns again.

"If anything, (Strong) was overly aggressive there," Brown said.

Former Zephyrhills High star Bryan Thomas, a Florida defensive back when Strong was Gators co-defensive coordinator a decade ago, said he recalls the UF staff requiring players to attend an etiquette class that taught, among other things, proper conduct around women.

RELATED STORY: Judge rips into USF's LaDarrius Jackson, coach Charlie Strong (w/video)

"(Strong) always told us to treat women with respect," Thomas said.

Tusculum College coach Jerry Odom — a Gators linebacker from 1987-90 and a UF assistant coach, all while Strong was there — said shortly after USF hired Strong that off-field issues angered him the most.

"The thing I remember about Charlie — and again, it's been a long time — but the thing he got maddest about was things off the field," Odom said. "We're talking mistakes that are things he doesn't believe in and how you're going to act off the field."

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