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USF Football: Potential Replacements for Jeff Scott as Head Coach

After a 4-26 record, USF fired Jeff Scott. Here’s a look at some candidates who could take over the post.

NCAA Football: Florida at South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After 30 games at the helm for USF, Jeff Scott’s tenure as the head coach is over, the school announced Sunday night.

The move comes immediately following a 54-28 road loss to Temple on Saturday afternoon, dropping USF to 1-8 and 0-5 in conference play this season. The Bulls’ one victory this season was a win over FCS opponent Howard in week two.

Scott took over the program before the start of the 2020 season and went 4-26 in his 30 games in charge. Only one of those games came against FBS opponents, with USF defeating Temple in 2021. Their other three victories came in games against FCS opponents.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Scott — who was earning $2.4 million annually — will receive a buyout of at least $192,000 but might gain more from the private USF Foundation. Former head coach Charlie Strong earned $3.1 million from the USF Foundation when he was fired.

USF becomes the third Group of 5 program looking for a new head coach, and also the third in the new-look AAC, joining UAB and Charlotte, who fired head coach Will Healy a few weeks ago.

Whoever replaces Scott will be the sixth head coach in USF history and the second for athletic director Michael Kelly, who hired Scott in 2019 after about a year and a half in charge of USF.

While the process for USF is still early, here are some names to watch for the open job.

Willie Simmons, Florida A&M head coach

NCAA Football: Florida A&M at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

If USF wanted to look toward a candidate with head coaching experience, Willie Simmons checks that box and then some.

Simmons took over as Florida A&M’s head coach in 2018, taking over a Rattlers program that was down on its luck. Since then, Simmons has built a consistent program on the field, even if the resources weren’t always favorable for him. Simmons is currently 31-12 as the head coach of Florida A&M, and led the team to a playoff birth — the first for an HBCU program since 2016 — during the 2021 season.

Prior to that, Simmons was the head coach at Prairie View A&M, where he won 21 games over three seasons in charge. He also spent four years coaching at Middle Tennessee.

Born in Tallahassee, Fla., Simmons would likely be able to recruit the Tampa area with success, while also putting together a consistent product on the field.

Ja’Juan Seider, Penn State running backs coach

NCAA Football: Penn State Blue-White Game Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Like Willie Simmons, Je’Juan Seider is a Florida native, hailing from Belle Glade, Fla., where he was a standout at quarterback during his high school playing career.

After finishing his playing career at Florida A&M, Seider got into coaching in Florida, coaching for local high schools in Palm Beach County. Since then, Seider has had stops at Marshall, West Virginia, Florida, and now Penn State, where he’s coached running backs since 2018.

Given some of USF’s struggles on the recruiting trail under Scott, Seider could provide a breath of fresh air in that category. According to 247Sports, he’s the No. 3 recruiter in the 2023 class, earning seven commitments for the class. That list includes Florida-based prospects Conrad Hussey and King Mack from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale.

Larry Scott, Howard head coach

Howard v USF
Jeff Scott shakes hands with Howard head coach Larry Scott following a game in September 2022
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

How the tables have turned...

As previously mentioned, USF’s one win this season is against Howard. Almost fittingly, Larry Scott, who is Howard’s head coach, could be a fit for the opening at USF.

While Scott’s time at Howard has not been incredibly successful — he’s just 6-16 in three seasons — he is about as South Florida as they come.

Born in Sebring, Fla., Scott was an offensive lineman at USF from 1997 to 1999, helping usher in the program. He was a part of the USF coaching staff from 2005 to 2012, starting off as the program’s Director of High School Relations before becoming an on-field assistant coach.

Most people likely know Scott from his time at the University of Miami, where he was the Hurricanes’ interim coach for six games in 2015. During that time, he was 4-2, picking up wins against both Duke and Pittsburgh.

Jason Candle, Toledo head coach

NCAA Football: Toledo at San Diego State Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be clear, I don’t know if Jason Candle would be willing to leave what he’s built at Toledo for the USF job.

Born in Ohio, Candle doesn’t have ties to the area and he’s been at Toledo since 2009, working his way up to head coach in 2016. Since becoming the head coach, his resume speaks for itself.

He’s 51-30 in charge of the Rockets and won a MAC Championship in 2017 after going 11-3. While Candle is just 1-4 in bowl games, he’d bring stability to a program in desperate need of it.

If Candle does end up the head coach at USF, Robert Weiner would likely be a part of his coaching staff. Weiner, who is the co-offensive coordinator at Toledo, is a Tampa native and was the head coach at Plant City High School for 16 years.

Marquel Blackwell, Ole Miss running backs coach

Marquel Blackwell is USF royalty... literally.

In 2013, Blackwell was inducted into the USF Athletics Hall of Fame, and for good reason. During his playing career, Blackwell was a star quarterback for the program, posting 77 total touchdowns and setting multiple passing records.

Since then, Blackwell has become a dang good coach, making stops at Toledo, Houston, West Virginia. Currently, he serves as the running backs coach at Ole Miss, taking over the position from Kevin Smith, who left to take the same job at Miami.

It’s hard to forecast how Blackwell would be as a head coach but his resume as a position coach is intriguing. Pair that with his ties to the program and it seems like this hire could bring a much-needed boost of energy.

Tom Allen, Indiana head coach

NCAA Football: Indiana at Cincinnati Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Allen is still the head coach at Indiana, so this one is purely speculative.

Indiana is 3-6 this season and the Hoosiers are coming off a 45-14 home loss to Penn State last week. Last season, Indiana went 2-10 and lost all nine games in the Big 10. Overall, Allen is 29–38 as the head coach at Indiana.

Still, Allen has shown that he can win if he has the buy-in from the administration at the University. In 2019 and 2020, Allen was 14-7, leading the Hoosiers to two bowl games in consecutive seasons.

Now, here’s the kicker: Tom Allen got his coaching start in Tampa. After college, Allen and his wife moved to Florida and Allen started coaching at Temple Heights High School in Tampa.

If Allen is fired from Indiana and is interested in USF, this would be a no-brainer hire.