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New USF coach Jeff Scott’s message to Bulls players: ‘Those that stay will be champions’

Clemson’s former co-offensive coordinator holds his first full team meeting as USF coach.
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]
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]
Published Jan. 16
Updated Jan. 17

TAMPA — Moments into his first full team meeting as USF football coach Thursday morning, Jeff Scott turned his players’ attention to the video screens at the front of the theater-style room.

Emblazoned on each, in all their PowerPoint glory, was a screen shot of the BCS standings from Oct. 14, 2007: Ohio State No. 1, Bulls No. 2.

“I want everyone to be reminded of where we’ve been as a program,” Scott said in his resonant baritone with a mild Southern accent. “What I know is, whatever we’ve done once, we can do again.”

What followed over the next two hours was an introductory, ice-breaking, blunt, galvanizing address. Scott, who arrived back in Tampa less than 12 hours after Clemson’s loss to LSU in Monday night’s College Football Playoff title game, spoke of accountability, unity and aspiring to a higher standard.

Before talking, he instructed all the seniors to sit in the front row, with the juniors directly behind them, and so on.

“If just okay is your standard, 4-8 becomes your record at the end of the season,” said Clemson’s former co-offensive coordinator, who inherits a team coming off a 4-8 season.

“ ‘Best’ is the standard. We’ll prepare for Texas (USF’s season-opening foe in 2020) the same way we prepare for Bethune-Cookman (the second 2020 foe). … We don’t play to an opponent. We play USF 12 times a year.”

Only a portion of the team was on campus when Scott was introduced as the Bulls’ coach Dec. 11 after Charlie Strong was fired the previous week. Since then, the 39-year-old married dad of one has coached in two playoff games and has found a new house (he and wife Sara are scheduled to close on a Tampa Palms home this month).

He also has hired 10 full-time assistants and assembled a support staff that features several staffers from the Strong era.

Related: USF's Jeff Scott completes inaugural staff with hiring of FAU safeties coach Wes Neighbors

In Thursday’s meticulously orchestrated meeting, Scott introduced all 10 assistants, each of whom spoke briefly with a screen shot of his family in the background. Scott then noted that collectively, the assistants had coaching opportunities at other schools, including Miami, Oregon, Ole Miss and Clemson.

But like Scott — courted seriously by at least one Power Five school and one Group of Five school in December — all chose USF.

“Every one of you in this room, you’re my players,” Scott said. “I’m your coach.”

New USF football coach Jeff Scott, left, meets with transfer players Darrian Felix, center, and Cade Fortin. Felix is a running back who arrived from Oregon. Fortin, a quarterback, comes from the University of North Carolina. [SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES]

Player-oriented goals — graduate, enjoy the college experience, learn tools for life, win a championship — were outlined, as were team goals: win the season opener, win a state championship, win a conference title and win the last game. Program cornerstones of communication, trust, respect and unity — heavy on unity — were stressed.

“We’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your entire life playing football,” Scott said. “But you’re going to have more fun than you’ve ever had at any level.”

For some, the work comes immediately.

Scott ordered 200 “floors” of StairMaster work for the players who didn’t inform him they’d be absent from Thursday’s meeting. For those not wishing to adhere to his demands and philosophy, Scott said, he’d assist them in entering the NCAA transfer portal but cautioned them it’s a one-way door.

“Those that stay,” Scott said, “will be champions.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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