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What USF football coach Alex Golesh says the Bulls have been missing

The first-year coach said he thinks USF is one of the top 20 jobs in the country.
 
First-year USF football coach Alex Golesh believes the Bulls are one of the top 20 jobs in the country.
First-year USF football coach Alex Golesh believes the Bulls are one of the top 20 jobs in the country. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published June 27, 2023

TAMPA — As Alex Golesh recruited the Tampa Bay area for years, he kept an eye on USF from afar. When the Bulls did well, he said during his first full day on the job, he understood why. When they struggled, he didn’t.

Half a year into his head coaching tenure, Golesh has an idea of what has been missing.

“A head coach that appreciates what this job is and embraces what this job is,” Golesh said during a recent, wide-ranging conversation with the Tampa Bay Times. “A head coach that is willing to work extremely hard to drive the best out of people — and by people I mean everybody that touches our program. …

“Make them all 1, be on the same page of what you’re trying to get done and 2, set a standard of elite everything. Work ethic. What our kids get. What we look like, what we talk like, what we dress like, how we present ourselves. Everything’s an elite standard.”

Including at the top of the administration.

New USF football coach Alex Golesh said he thinks the Bulls are fully aligned now, from the president and board of trustees down.
New USF football coach Alex Golesh said he thinks the Bulls are fully aligned now, from the president and board of trustees down. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

“You need elite leaders,” Golesh said. “You need elite athletic directors. You need elite presidents, board of trustees people. It’s all got to align. You’d know better than I would if it’s been aligned here or not. I don’t really care because it is right now.”

Golesh was sitting in physical proof of that alignment — a recently renovated office that didn’t look this modern when he arrived.

“Why didn’t it look like this?” Golesh asked. “Nobody felt like it was important enough to look like this. All of it is important. All of it.

“And you can’t make everything important. I tell our kids and our staff all the time — make the important s--t the important s--t. Figure out what the important s--t is, and let’s make it really important.”

Facilities are one thing the Bulls are starting to make important, if not really important. They formally opened the $22 million indoor practice facility a month after Golesh was hired and have approved initial plans to build a $340 million on-campus stadium, complete with a football operations center.

USF-colored balloons were part of the festivities for the opening of the Bulls' indoor practice facility in January. Coach Alex Golesh spoke at the ceremony.
USF-colored balloons were part of the festivities for the opening of the Bulls' indoor practice facility in January. Coach Alex Golesh spoke at the ceremony. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Buildings aren’t everything, Golesh said, but they matter. Golesh spent a year as a UCF assistant and said their facility’s “not really any good,” but the Knights’ stadium “changed the trajectory of that campus.”

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“Does it attract players, a stadium? No,” Golesh said. “Does it change the culture of your program? Like, no. It doesn’t matter. It matters zero.”

Instead, Golesh sees the building as an asset to campus. It will be a common place for students to gather for 3 ½ hours to cheer on their team.

As Golesh has introduced himself to the area, he met alumni in South Tampa who haven’t been to campus in a decade. With games at Raymond James Stadium, they had no reason to return.

“It’s a beautiful campus and really vibrant and (has a) really diverse student population,” Golesh said. “It’s really, really cool. They’ve never seen it. They haven’t been here in 10 years, 15 years, some. So it brings those people back to your campus, which you need. You need it for a sense of community. You need it for a sense of excitement. You need it for the donor base to give, right? We need it for an NIL (name, image and likeness) base to give…

“And I think just as importantly as anything else, it’s, in a lot of ways, the identity of your campus, the identity of your university. For people to say, ‘Man, that’s it. That’s home.’”

As the Bulls update their infrastructure, USF will eliminate one of the issues that has been holding the football program back. Listen to Golesh long enough, and it’s clear that he believes the Bulls have gotten rid of another hurdle, too.

“I think just more than anything, (USF has needed) somebody that appreciates what this job is, which in my mind, is a top-20 job in the country in what I would argue a top city in the world to live in — incredible weather and an incredible sports town where sports are really important and an incredible high school football state. …” Golesh said. “What could be bad with it?”

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