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Sorry, Charlie critics: Strong’s USF buyout bigger than presumed

If USF dismissed its second-year coach, it would owe him considerably more than the amount stated in his contract.
USF coach Charlie Strong's team enters the bowl season on a five-game losing streak. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published Nov. 29, 2018

The fringe of USF's fan base fed up with the Charlie Strong era might wish to hit pause.

Replacing him, a notion that appears highly unlikely at this point, wouldn't be as cheap as initially presumed.

A documents request by the Tampa Bay Times has revealed Strong would be owed more than the feeble amount (20 weeks of his $500,000 base salary) indicated in his standard state contract if he were to be dismissed.

In response to the request, the school indicated other buyout terms are included in an agreement between Strong and the USF Foundation, the school's private fundraising arm. As a direct-support organization, USF Foundation records are confidential and exempt from disclosure under Florida law.

But it is believed Strong's buyout amount in that agreement is considerable.

Strong and his staff have been increasingly maligned during USF's five-game losing streak, and Strong's annual salary is set to more than double (from $1 million to $2.5 million) in 2019.

But in light of his agreement with the USF Foundation, combined with the amount USF would have to pay a new coach, seeking a change would appear far from cost-effective.

Which isn't to suggest staff changes aren't forthcoming. Following the Bulls' 38-10 loss Friday to UCF, Strong indicated that "we have to" re-evalate what the team is doing offensively.

RELATED: USF morning after: assessing the fallout from a 5-game skid

If Strong retains beleaguered offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, whose unit has averaged only 19.8 points over the last five games, he'll get a significant salary bump.

Gilbert is scheduled to have his annual salary quadrupled — from $100,000 to $400,000 — in 2019, the final year of his three-year deal.

Meantime, second-year defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary is set to make $350,000 this year and in 2019 after being paid $100,000 for 2017, according to his contract. Jean-Mary's unit has struggled mightily against the run (244.7 ypg) after losing six starters from last year's team.

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