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Sunday December 8th, 2019 9:01AM

USF fires coach Charlie Strong after 3-season slide

By The Associated Press

South Florida fired coach Charlie Strong on Sunday after three seasons in which the Bulls won fewer games each year.

USF made the move two days after finishing a 4-8 season with a blowout loss to rival UCF. That left Strong 21-16 overall but 4-14 since starting the 2018 season with seven straight victories.

“I have tremendous respect for Coach Strong and his dedication to recruiting and developing young men of talent and character and leading them with integrity. He has represented USF with dignity and class and we wish Coach and his family the very best,” USF athletic director Michael Kelly said in a statement.

The former Texas and Louisville coach was hired by USF to replace Willie Taggart after the 2016 season. Strong led the Bulls to a 10-2 record in that first year in Tampa behind star quarterback Quinton Flowers. After starting 7-0 in 2018, the Bulls ended the season with six straight losses, and this season has been filled with lopsided losses.

The 59-year-old Strong, who was a longtime defensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference with plenty of recruiting ties to the state of Florida, is 74-53 overall in 10 seasons as a head coach.

USF has been playing major college football for 23 years and has had some high-level success, with 10 seasons of eight victories or more and 10 bowl appearances.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/APTop25CollegeFootballPoll and https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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