USF is looking for a new football coach after firing Jeff Scott on Sunday. So who’s next for the Bulls?
Let’s tackle some realistic candidates and some long shots:
Jackson State Coach Deion Sanders
We’ll start here because several USF fans (and at least one former player) raised the Florida State and NFL legend. He would be a dynamic recruiter and bring the sizzle USF needs to stand out in a professional market. He’s also 24-5 (9-0 this year) in three seasons at Jackson State. But we can’t see him leaving the HBCU for anything other than a Power Five job.
Tom Herman, former Houston/Texas coach
The Bulls have previously failed with a former Longhorns coach (Charlie Strong), but Herman is scheming and is believed to be interested in the job. His 22-4 stint in the AAC at Houston included a Peach Bowl win over FSU. He is working as an analyst for CBS Sports this season.
Former USF Coach Jim Leavitt
Part of the Bulls fanbase will be clamoring for Leavitt, who led the program from his first game until his controversial exit after the 2009 season. He took the Bulls to five bowl games and No. 2 in the nation in 2007, but it’s hard to see USF coming back so well. He hasn’t been a head coach since the Bulls fired him after finding he punched a player and interfered with the school’s investigation.
Scott Frost, former UCF/Nebraska coach
Like Herman, he failed in the Power Five but topped the AAC; just ask the Knights what national title they’ve claimed since 2017. The idea of Frost coaching rival UCF is a juicy one.
Todd Monken, Georgia Offensive Coordinator
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The former Bucs assistant helped the Bulldogs win it all last year and took Southern Miss from 1-11 to 9-5 as head coach. Would this job interest him?
Indiana coach Tom Allen
No, we can’t imagine Allen leaving a Big Ten job for the Bulls. But if things go south in Indiana — he’s 3-6 this season and 1-5 in the conference — maybe he’d go south to USF. He was the Bulls’ defensive coordinator in 2015 and began his coaching career in Hillsborough County at the now-defunct Christian High School, Temple Heights.
Oregon Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham
The former FSU aide has ties to the state and is considered a rising star in the profession. We expect the Arizona native to be in contention for the Sun Devils job, although he may have to start his head coaching career in the five-man squad.
Florida State Offensive Coordinator Alex Atkins
Like Dillingham, Atkins is a promising young assistant named as a future head coach after rebuilding a historically poor offensive line. Her name was mentioned in Charlotte’s search, but USF would be a step up.
Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Alex Golesh
Golesh has been involved in one of the best offenses in years, helping the Volunteers to a breakthrough season. He was also Josh Heupel’s offensive co-coordinator at UCF in 2020, so he has some history in the state and with the conference.
Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz
He was Miami’s elite defense architect in 2017 but was let go after going 21-15 in three seasons as head coach of the Hurricanes. The Miami native and FSU alumnus has connections across the state. Would he generate enough buzz and wins for a Bulls program that needs both?
Former Florida coach Dan Mullen
We don’t expect Mullen to stay in his ESPN analyst role for long. We’re also wondering if he’s aiming for bigger jobs.
Justin Fuente, former Memphis/Virginia Tech coach
Like Frost and Herman, Fuente was successful in the AAC (19-6 in his final two years with a conference title) but fell short at the Power Five. Unlike Frost, he has no obvious connection to Tampa or Florida.
Toledo Co-Offensive Coordinator Robert Weiner
He has coached Plant High to four state championships, so he is well known to area coaches. He’s in his third season with the Rockets (who finished October with one of the top 25 offenses in the nation) and is considered one of the Mid-American Conference’s top scouts. Weiner also briefly held a staff position at USF in 2013 before changing his mind.
Howard Coach Larry Scott
The Sebring native was a member of the Bulls’ first recruiting class, worked at Tampa’s Freedom High and Wharton High, and served as a USF assistant from 2005-2012. He also served as the Gators’ interim assistant coach. and Miami in 2015, so he’s well established in the state. But he’s only been 6-16 since taking over Howard in 2020.
Urban Meyer, former Florida coach
A mandatory mention because we were asked questions about the triple national champion. It seems very, very unlikely that the Bulls would hire him after his turbulent tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars or that his ego would allow him to take the job.
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