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Why USF’s Auggie Sanchez chose to walk away from football

After his dismissal from his alma mater, the Bulls’ career tackles leader became disillusioned with coaching.
Former USF football player Auggie Sanchez looks out after boarding a 24-foot Canyon Bay tower boat for a day on the waters of lower Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Former USF football player Auggie Sanchez looks out after boarding a 24-foot Canyon Bay tower boat for a day on the waters of lower Tampa Bay on Thursday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Apr. 3, 2020|Updated Apr. 3, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — He stands near the bow of the 24-foot fishing boat on this cool, cloudless morning, trying to coax snook from the flats near a forest of mangroves.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge looms in the distance. Beyond that? Well, Auggie Sanchez isn’t sure what awaits on the other side of the horizon.

For now, it’s not football. The leading tackler in USF history, who once pondered a career in coaching, doesn’t plan to continue pursuing that occupation.

“If I wasn’t even gonna be able to stay at my alma mater, I didn’t know if it was worth even going through it,” he said.

Related: Former Armwood High dual threat Noah Johnson headed to USF

Sanchez, 25, was a prominent casualty in the staff purge that took place when new USF coach Jeff Scott was hired to replace Charlie Strong. A Bulls graduate-assistant last season, he worked in the same capacity at FSU in 2018 for former Bulls coach Willie Taggart.

Auggie Sanchez, on right, has had time to contemplate his future since being let go as a grad assistant at USF.
Auggie Sanchez, on right, has had time to contemplate his future since being let go as a grad assistant at USF. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Though not stunned about being let go, he remains disillusioned about the way it happened. Sanchez said he was informed with the other grad assistants and lower-level staffers during a meeting attended by Scott, athletic director Michael Kelly and other administrators.

“When I got fired, it was kind of one of those a-ha moments,” said Sanchez, a Northeast High alumnus who exited USF in 2017 with 388 career tackles and 50 career starts, tied for the most in school history.

“I went to my girlfriend’s house and I’m sitting there talking and I was like, ‘You know, this would be crazy if I had a family or we were married or something like that and I get fired, and I’ve got to scramble and hurry up and find another job.’”

Related: USF athletics: The (partial) year in review

Though he acknowledges the itch to coach could resurface, Sanchez said for now he is contemplating careers in the public and private sector, where the workdays are sure to be more stable than the 16-hour days he logged for both Taggart and Strong.

He graduated from USF with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in physical education. He has explored a career as an adjustor, and acknowledges he’d someday like to operate a fishing boat like childhood buddy Tom Campbell, proprietor of Salinity Now Fishing Charters whom he has accompanied on this brisk morning.

“I love USF,” he said. “And I think that was more one of those things that pushes you over the edge, just the inconsistency of where your money would come from and how you would be able to get there. And I just think those hours and time were always one thing you struggle with.”

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