Charlie Strong hasn't even coached a game at South Florida yet and he's already getting called out.
Judge Margaret Taylor, who attended USF as an undergrad, wasn't happy with Strong during a court appearance by Bulls defensive end Ladarrius Jackson, who was arrested Monday and charged with sexual battery and false imprisonment. Obviously, those are serious accusations against Jackson. However, it was Taylor's remarks about Strong that stood out.
Taylor said she was "embarrassed and ashamed" of being a USF alum and called Jackson's alleged actions "reprehensible." She also wondered whether Strong had control of a football team he's led for a little less than five months. In March, Bulls defensive back Hassan Childs allegedly pulled a gun in a road rage incident that resulted in him . Strong then dismissed Childs from the team.
Here's the video of Taylor's rant, courtesy of WTSP ...
"And, I have a message for your coach, as well. Coach Strong, if you are listening, in the last couple of months there have been two arrests of your players for very violent felonies," Taylor said. "This court, and I'm sure I'm not alone, questions whether you have control over your players. It's fairly clear you do not have control of them off the field, and I guess only time will tell whether you have control over them on the field.
"I would implore you to think long and hard about whether being head coach at USF is a good fit for you before any other members of this community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players."
Strong responded with a statement of his own on Wednesday.
"In the short time I have been here our program has been built on character, discipline and family," said Strong. "We have wonderful young men in the USF football program who choose to do the right thing every day. We are dedicated to recruiting young men of high character, and to consistently developing them with structure and frequent education regarding appropriate conduct and behavior, on and off the playing field.
"While I am shocked and saddened at the recent arrest of a member of our team, I am disappointed that the actions of two players over the last two months have harmed the reputation of our program, of our wonderful university and of my character. We have high expectations of our coaches, staff and student-athletes and we hold accountable those who act contrary to our values."
South Florida has already removed Jackson from team activities. That was the only acceptable move since Jackson's case is still unfolding. Jackson is also a former JUCO player and was recruited to USF last year under former coach Willie Taggart, now at Oregon. If Taylor is going to go after a coach in this situation, it needs to be Taggart, not Strong. Besides, Strong has a well-documented history as a disciplinarian at Texas.
The cliche is that you recruit your own problems. To what level coaches need to be held accountable for their players' legal transgressions is a worthwhile conversation. But not if Taylor is going to incorrectly make Strong the subject of a Mark Richt meme.