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5 thoughts on USF hiring Alex Golesh as Bulls’ football coach

He isn’t Deion Sanders or Jamey Chadwell, but he does have experience building programs.
Alex Golesh, seen here as an Iowa State assistant, is the new football coach at USF.
Alex Golesh, seen here as an Iowa State assistant, is the new football coach at USF. [ JOE CALOMENI / MARINMEDIA.ORG / | ZUMAPRESS.com ]
Published Dec. 4, 2022

USF announced the hiring of Alex Golesh as its next head football Sunday, about 12 hours after reports first surfaced that the Bulls had reached a deal with the Tennessee offensive coordinator.

While we wait for Golesh’s public introduction and news conference — set for 11:30 Monday morning at the USF Alumni Center — here are five thoughts on the hire:

1. Fairly or unfairly, Golesh will be judged against Deion Sanders, Jamey Chadwell.

That’s because most of the speculation during the search centered on the other two, more established names. Sanders made geographic sense because he is a Fort Myers native and Florida State legend. Chadwell made schematic sense because he has won at virtually every stop and built Coastal Carolina into a top-tier mid-major team.

There are also legitimate reasons why USF didn’t get either. Most in the industry assumed Sanders’ next stop would be at a Power Five program. It was; Colorado hired him this weekend.

ESPN reported Sunday morning that Liberty will pay Chadwell more than $4 million annually to leave Coastal Carolina. Financial terms of Golesh’s deal are not yet available, but USF paid his predecessor, Jeff Scott, about $2.4 million.

2. Golesh has experience building programs.

Iowa State struggled but turned things around during Alex Golesh's time there.
Iowa State struggled but turned things around during Alex Golesh's time there. [ JOE CALOMENI / MARINMEDIA.ORG / | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

While athletic director Michael Kelly touted Golesh’s offensive mind in his statement, he also said Golesh has an “outstanding track record of elevating numerous programs” and “has been a key part of successful program-building at numerous stops.”

Related: 5 things to know about Alex Golesh

Golesh was a graduate assistant on the 2008 Oklahoma State team that broke through under Mike Gundy, going from a string of 7-6 years to the Cowboys’ first top-20 season in two decades. Toledo went from 3-9 before his arrival to 9-4 in his final season as an assistant. Iowa State also won three games before he got there but went to three consecutive bowls before he left.

This year’s Tennessee team won 10 games in the regular season for the first time since 2003, in that staff’s second season. Golesh didn’t lead those turnarounds, but his firsthand experience will be vital as he tries to resuscitate the Bulls.

3. The Bulls will be aggressive.

That’s according to Golesh, at least, who vowed USF will be “the most aggressive team in the country, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.” It’s hard to quantify that mentality in recruiting, but the Volunteers’ 2023 class sits 11th in the country — tied for the program’s best since 2015. He is listed as the secondary recruiter on five-star quarterback Nicholaus Iamaleava, who would be one of Tennessee’s five highest ranked signees of the modern recruiting era.

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On the field, his last three offenses all ranked in the top 25 nationally in fourth-down attempts and yards per pass. That shows a coordinator willing to take chances with his play-calling.

4. He fits the mold of a successful mid-major head coach.

Kelly said head coaching experience would be a plus, but he never ruled out hiring someone without it — like Golesh. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Last month, we looked at what types of coaches succeed at programs like USF. The most common blueprint was a first-time head coach who was a top Power Five assistant. That includes six of the eight AAC champions.

5. His work starts immediately.

Talented receiver Jimmy Horn, among other Bulls, is in the transfer portal.
Talented receiver Jimmy Horn, among other Bulls, is in the transfer portal. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

The transfer portal opens Monday, officially kicking off college football’s unofficial free agency season. Several prominent USF players, from receiver Jimmy Horn to linebacker Antonio Grier, have announced their intentions to enter the portal. Golesh’s first job will be to decide how much effort, if any, he should spend trying to re-recruit each one.

Horn has already announced Colorado, Texas A&M, Houston and Penn State as his four finalists, but others are probably undecided. Any hopes of a Year 1 boost at USF hinge on how Golesh and his staff handle the portal in the next few weeks.

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