1. Sports
  2. /
  3. USF Bulls

New USF coach Jeff Scott makes ‘united from start to finish’ pitch

The fifth football coach in USF history seems to hit all the right notes to a standing-room-only crowd
(From left) USF Bulls mascot 'Rocky the Bull", new USF football coach Jeff Scott, his wife Sara and their 4-year-old daughter Savannah pose for photos after his announcement at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on Wednesday [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
(From left) USF Bulls mascot 'Rocky the Bull", new USF football coach Jeff Scott, his wife Sara and their 4-year-old daughter Savannah pose for photos after his announcement at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on Wednesday [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Dec. 11, 2019

TAMPA ― As a 20-year-old Clemson walk-on kick holder, Jeff Scott helped take down UCF ― of all teams ― with a 22-yard scoring run on a fake field goal in the 2001 opener.

That factual nugget alone would’ve been plenty to stoke the standing-room-only throng of UCF haters shoehorned into the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on USF’s campus Wednesday. But Scott, introduced to this lively audience as the Bulls’ fifth football coach, had more to give them. A lot more.

And no misdirection was needed. Instead, this 38-year-old came straight up the gut.

And right to his listeners’ hearts.

“Here in about 20 days, we’re getting ready to start a new decade,” the Arcadia native with the mild baritone drawl told the crowd. “And I firmly believe that if we come together, we unite, that this will be the start of the best decade in the University of South Florida’s football history.”

MORE BULLS: Five quick facts from Jeff Scott’s formal introduction at USF

Not a sliver of evidence suggests a triumphant press conference parlays into a prosperous coaching tenure. Only two Decembers ago, Willie Taggart had them cheering and chanting inside a Doak Campbell Stadium club area.

But first impressions do matter. And if Scott, Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator the past five seasons, has the Bulls prepared on Saturdays as thoroughly as he seemed to be on Wednesday, a riveting decade could be forthcoming.

From summoning some of USF’s prominent names of the past (i.e. Lee Roy Selmon, Jim Leavitt) to engaging donors to stressing he’ll recruit the bay area first and foremost, Scott hit all the proper notes.

“This is not a broken program. There is a very solid foundation here,” said Scott, actually eliciting some “amens” from the crowd.

“I think kind of my evaluation and looking at everything, we just need to bring all of our energies and efforts together. It reminds me so much of where we were at Clemson in 2008. And Coach (Dabo) Swinney bringing that vision, getting everybody on the same page, getting everybody with the mindset that the best is yet to come.

“And that’s what I’m asking from all of you. Whatever your ability to support, please step up. This is the time to do it.”

Dressed in a Navy-blue pinstriped suit with a green striped tie, Scott was joined Wednesday by his wife Sara (whom he met when both were Clemson freshmen), 4-year-old daughter Savannah, and his parents Daryle and Brad (former FSU offensive coordinator and South Carolina coach).

Clemson coaching peers Tony Elliott and Tyler Grisham attended, as did former Tigers receiver (and East Lake High alumnus) Artavis Scott. Roughly a dozen current Bulls players (most departed campus after completing final exams this week) sat in the front two rows.

They heard new USF president Steven Currall insist Scott was “unequivocally our first and only choice” to replace Charlie Strong, who lost 14 of his final 18 games as Bulls coach.

They heard athletic director Michael Kelly, a former ACC administrator who signed Scott to a five-year, $12.5 million deal, suggest Scott “was born to be a head football coach.”

And at least a half-dozen times, they heard Scott deliver the mantra he has coined for his new program.

“United from start to finish.”

Clearly, Scott has been briefed on the disconnect between most boosters and his predecessor in recent years. Or the one that seems to exist on campus, where some prominent student functions annually seem to conflict with home football games.

Speaking of disconnects, that disparity between UCF and USF is ever widening.

“We have a great university here,” Scott said. “It’s big and has a lot of arms, but (Currall) communicated very clearly that it’s his goal to bridge all of those gaps, bring everybody together, much like I want to unite and bring together this football program.”

Kelly, who never has made a more critical hire in his administrative career, is banking on Scott as the guy who can forge such cohesion.

And fake out the Knights another time or two.

“It’s all about fit and timing, ladies and gentlemen,” Kelly said. “And I’m here to tell you this is the right fit and the right time for Jeff Scott to the head football coach at the University of South Florida.”

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls


  1. USF senior point guard Laquincy Rideau (3) drives in the first half of his team's 55-54 loss Saturday at UCF. [Photo provided by UCF Athletics] [UCF Athletics]
    The Bulls coach doesn’t hold back following his team’s controversial 55-54 loss in Orlando
  2. USF sophomore center Michael Durr faces a daunting challenge on Saturday night in Orlando against UCF 6-foot-11 veteran Collin Smith. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bulls, who appear on the cusp of a breakthrough win, haven’t defeated the Knights since 2015.
  3. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, left, meets with members of his coaching staff and support staff at USF on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    The new coach also has a date set for the Bulls’ spring intrasquad game
  4. New USF football coach Jeff Scott, right, talks to members of the football team during a team meeting at USF on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    Clemson’s former co-offensive coordinator holds his first full team meeting as USF coach.
  5. USF women's coach Jose Fernandez, talking with guard Enna Pehadzic (0) during the Bulls' season-opening win against Jacksonville, leads his team into a critical American Athletic Conference game tonight at Temple. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A mediocre showing in non-conference play has hindered the Bulls’ NCAA Tournament hopes.
  6. USF tight end Mitch Wilcox with a reception during a drill on the field during the East practice for the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field on Monday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Tarpon Springs alum insists the Bulls’ disastrous 4-8 season benefited him as he prepares for the NFL draft in this week’s East-West Shrine Game activities.
  7. Expect USF third-year sophomore Jordan McCloud, who started 10 games last season, to get serious competition for the job this spring. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A look at some of the Bulls’ greatest areas of need entering the recruiting cycle’s final stretch.
  8. LSU coach Ed Orgeron, left, and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney shake hands on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, near the national championship trophy after a news conference for the College Football Playoff title game. [CHRIS CARLSON  |  AP]
    Goodbye, task-master ways. The duo leading their teams into the CFP national title game are all about a very personal, aw-shucks, family approach.
  9. USF guard David Collins, left, goes up for a shot against Memphis forward D.J. Jeffries during the second half of the Tigers' 68-64 triumph Sunday at the Yuengling Center. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bulls squander a 14-point second-half lead in a 68-64 loss to the Tigers at Yuengling Center.
  10. USF junior Justin Brown, center, and the rest of the Bulls will try for their first win against a ranked foe since 2012 when they host No. 21 Memphis on Sunday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The Bulls can end a 27-game skid against ranked opposition when they host the Tigers.