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Oracle Insight: The state of USF football

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 22:12

After any big coaching or personnel decision for a football team, whether a firing or a hiring,  the most important question a fan base can ask is “Where are we now?”

With the forced departure of coach Skip Holtz, the USF football program has been left in flux without a leader heading into an offseason that could define the state of the program for the foreseeable future.

The first priority for the athletic department is finding Holtz’s replacement. The last time the football team had a head coach opening was with the infamous firing of Jim Leavitt in January 2010,  USF announced Holtz as the successor just six days later.

Athletics Director Doug Woolard said USF will look to move forward in the coaching search both “quickly” and with “thoroughness,” but it will likely be vital to emphasize the latter, given the results of the last quick coaching search.

The search for a successor will also be hindered thanks to the money the school owes Holtz following the firing — $2.5 million over the next five years, because of the five-year contract extension Holtz signed last off-season.

With $500,000 going to Holtz every year for the next five seasons, the school will have less money in its total budget, likely limiting the coaching candidates to mid-major head coaches, up-and-coming assistants or other coaches who have been fired.

Along with the search for a coach, the state of USF’s coaching staff is also in question, as a replacement coach is
likely to bring his own staff with him.

While offensive coordinator Todd Fitch has been named in charge of football issues until the coaching search is completed, Fitch, along with defensive coordinator Chris Cosh and the offensive and defensive assistant coaches, are in jeopardy of losing their jobs.

Another aspect of coaching changes is the reaction of both present and future players. Though the Bulls are not likely to see any players transfer from the school, the team is in danger of losing key recruits.

Both four-star quarterback Asiantii Woulard and three-star receiver Jeff Badet announced via Twitter that they had de-committed from USF, but would keep the school as an option as they re-opened their commitments.

As quarterback Matt Floyd enters his sophomore year with USF next season and Bobby Eveld has burned his redshirt while playing 12 snaps before sustaining an injury against Miami, the Bulls will be thin at quarterback following Eveld’s departure, and the loss of Woulard as a commited recruit could be another blow to a program at a crossroads.

The final factor that the team and program face in the wake of the firing of Holtz is conference realignment. As a school that is without a coach and could be facing the loss of multiple recruits, USF is on the brink of missing out on the recent trend of schools jumping to more attractive conferences.

With West Virginia, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Rutgers announcing their departure from the Big East over the last two seasons, the conference is in a period of regression, and USF, if it can find consistent success quickly, could find its way into one of the future superconferences, such as the Big 12 or the Atlantic Coastal Conference.

Holtz’s firing has left the USF football team at a turning point in the school’s history, but a majority of the issues facing the program at the moment could be solved with a quality long-term replacement.

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