USF football hires Alex Golesh as new head coach

Alex Golesh has been offensive coordinator at Tennessee for two seasons, leading the team to record-breaking performances. UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE ATHLETICS PHOTO

Alex Golesh was announced Sunday as USF football’s sixth head coach in program history, and fifth in just 12 years.

The news of Golesh potentially being the new hire broke Saturday night per multiple reports, but first by Action Network reporter Brett McMurphy on Twitter

Golesh is offensive coordinator and tight ends coach at No. 7 Tennessee. He has been in the position the past two seasons under head coach Josh Heupel. Golesh also worked under Heupel at UCF in 2020 as co-offensive coordinator when the Knights were ranked second in total offense.

“I’m excited to be back in the state of Florida and work with the great high school coaches in this state,” Golesh said in a Sunday press release. “This program will have an identity both offensively and defensively, and with special teams. We will be the most aggressive team in the country, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.”

Tennessee went 10-2 (6-2 SEC) this season and has the No. 1 offense in the country. The Vols also had a top 20 offense last season. The Bulls offense is ranked 66th this season. 

Golesh helped more than triple the Vols’ wins since his arrival, going from three the season before he joined to 10 this year. He implemented a tempo-based offense at Tennessee that led to dramatic improvement.

The Vols are ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring (47.33), yards per game (538.1), points per possession (3.24) and yards per play (7.35). They are the only team to average over 300 yards passing and 200 rushing.

Golesh is a finalist for the 27th Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant coach in college football. It will be presented Tuesday afternoon.

During the search, Director of USF Athletics Michael Kelly said he would not be ruling out candidates without head coaching experience. Same approach applied when hiring former coach Jeff Scott in 2019, who also was an offensive coordinator before coming to USF.

USF has been in search of a head coach with a more successful tenure, especially after holding a losing record since 2019. 

The search began after Jeff Scott was fired Nov. 6, the day after USF (1-11, 0-8 AAC) was blown out by Temple 54-28. Since then, Special Teams Coordinator Daniel Da Prato has served as interim head coach.

Scott ended his tenure with a 4-26 record, only one win of which was against a conference opponent in 2021. It hasn’t been uncommon for USF football to fire a coach after less than three years, but Scott went down as having the losingest record in program history

The last time USF had a winning record was 2018 under Charlie Strong, which is also the same year as the last time the Bulls made it to a bowl game. Strong was fired at the end of the 2019 season, his third at USF, where he finished 4-8. 

Skip Holtz was the other coach to be fired for a losing record. In his third season in 2012, the Bulls were 3-9. At the time, that was the lowest in USF history. 

Strong and Holtz were both fired at the end of the season, Scott, however, still had three games left in the 2022 campaign.

Kelly said in a Nov. 9 press conference he typically would not have fired Scott in the middle of the season, but based on the timeliness of the portal opening in December, he felt it was necessary. 

“The recruiting season as it is is important, and so to have a chance to really have an open mind, have an ability to build the right relationships, understand the right relationships with people who are going to be interested in this job are important,” Kelly said Nov. 9. 

Scott was hired eight days after Charlie Strong was fired in 2019. This time he took about four weeks. Kelly said he was contacted by many interested candidates, citing the USF football head coaching job is still “highly attractive” thanks to Scott.

Golesh will be introduced to the USF community and media Monday at 11:30 a.m. at the USF Alumni Center.

“We are thrilled to welcome Coach Golesh as the new leader of our program. He is a dynamic coach and recruiter who is relentless in pursuit of excellence, as evidenced by his outstanding track record of elevating numerous programs. He also happens to be one of the most creative and successful offensive minds in college football,” Kelly said.

“Alex has worked his way up through the college ranks, been a key part of successful program-building at numerous stops and has developed perhaps the most fearsome offensive attack in college football today.”