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USF hiring Tennessee’s Alex Golesh as next football coach, reports say

The 38-year-old Russia native helps lead the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense.
Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh is reportedly on track to become USF's next head football coach.
Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh is reportedly on track to become USF's next head football coach. [ WADE PAYNE | AP ]
Published Dec. 4, 2022|Updated Dec. 4, 2022

Update: USF formally announced the hiring of Tennessee assistant Alex Golesh on Sunday morning. The original story published Saturday night is below.

USF is hiring Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh as the Bulls’ next head football coach, according to multiple reports Saturday evening. The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy first reported the news. USF has not yet announced or confirmed the hire.

Golesh, 38, has been a significant factor in some of the nation’s best offenses with head coach Josh Heupel at Tennessee and UCF.

The No. 7 Volunteers lead the country in scoring this year, averaging 47.3 points per game, and yards per play (7.35), and quarterback Hendon Hooker flourished into a Heisman Trophy contender who broke school records in completion percentage and passing efficiency. That development helped Tennessee jump from 7-6 last year to 10-2 and a presumptive berth in a New Year’s Six bowl this season.

Related: What if the next USF football coach wins big, then bolts? ‘You made a great hire’

The Volunteers’ offense ranked in the top 20 in scoring and yards per play last season, too. Before that, Golesh was co-coordinator of UCF’s 2020 offense, which ranked eighth in scoring. With the Knights, he helped Jacob Harris, a former walk-on from Palm Harbor University, blossom into a fourth-round NFL draft pick.

The Volunteers list Golesh as the play caller at both stops.

Alex Golesh spent the 2020 season as UCF's co-offensive coordinator.
Alex Golesh spent the 2020 season as UCF's co-offensive coordinator. [ AP (2020) ]

He is also well regarded as a recruiter. The oral commitments he has helped secure at Tennessee include five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava and top-30 national recruit Jonathan Echols from Bradenton’s IMG Academy.

Golesh served as the recruiting coordinator at Toledo (2009-11), Illinois (2012-14) and Iowa State (2016-19). The Rockets signed the MAC’s top recruiting class twice in his tenure, and a 2019 Iowa State class headlined by star running back Breece Hall was one of the best in program history.

Those classes were peppered with players from Florida and the Tampa Bay area. Among the signees: Lakewood High star receiver Bernard Reedy (Toledo), Tampa Catholic linebacker Tre Watson (Illinois) and St. Petersburg High cornerback Anthony Johnson (Iowa State).

Golesh was also the primary recruiter who signed Spoto High product Geronimo Allison to Illinois from a junior college; Allison spent five seasons in the NFL.

Alex Golesh was the primary recruiter for Tampa's Geronimo Allison, who signed with Illinois and played for the Green Bay Packers.
Alex Golesh was the primary recruiter for Tampa's Geronimo Allison, who signed with Illinois and played for the Green Bay Packers. [ MIKE ROEMER | AP ]

Golesh has taken a long road to this point. He was born in Moscow; lived in Brooklyn, New York; and went to high school in Ohio. He graduated from Ohio State in 2006, then worked as a graduate assistant at Northern Illinois and Oklahoma State.

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The hire comes at a pivotal time for the Bulls. On the field, the program is at an all-time low after Jeff Scott’s 4-26 tenure, followed by three more losses after Scott’s firing Nov. 6 to end a 1-11 2022 season. But off the field, the Bulls made progress in key areas under Scott, such as nutrition, staffing and facilities.

USF’s long-awaited indoor practice facility opened for limited use last month, and USF is making strides toward building an on-campus football stadium. USF was also left out of the last round of conference realignment, staying behind in the American Athletic Conference as rival UCF went to the Big 12.

Related: USF football coaching search: What types of hires win big at programs like the Bulls?

Athletic director Michael Kelly did not rule out any type of candidates at the start of his month-long search for Scott’s replacement, but he said head coaching experience would be a bonus, as would be Florida recruiting ties. The search took a turn Thursday when news broke that Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell was nearing a deal to take over Liberty; Chadwell’s name had been mentioned frequently as a USF target. Another possibility, Jackson State coach and Florida State legend Deion Sanders, was announced as Colorado’s next coach Saturday.

The hire also meets the timeline Kelly set in his news conference at the start of the search; he wanted to have the new coach in place by Dec. 5, Monday, when the NCAA transfer portal window opens.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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