20 MINUTES : MARK HARLAN – PART 2

By Leo Haggerty

Had a chance to spend 20 minutes one-on-one with University of South Florida Athletic Director Mark Harlan. Nothing was off limits and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, as I was, with the candid and transparents answers I received to some pretty pointed questions.

I’m breaking this interview down into three parts. The first part is why he came to USF. The second is the football program. The final installment will by the athletic program in general. Enjoy.

LH : You’re a West Coast guy. What intrigued you about uprooting your family and coming to the East Coast to a school like USF with little or no history of athletic success?

MH :

LH : When you were hired, in your opinion, what was your biggest challenge at USF?

MH :

LH : You’ve worked at schools, such as UCLA and Arizona, that have seen success in multiple sports. How has that helped you in developing a long range plan to improve the entire athletic program at USF?

MH :

LH : What’s been your biggest disappointment since coming to USF?

MH :

LH : Along the same lines, what’s been your biggest achievement?

MH :

LH : Nobody likes to fire people and you’ve had to do it twice with the Men’s Basketball program. What are they qualities you’re looking for in the next Bulls hoops head coach?

MH :

LH :To me, you’re in a Catch 22 with Men’s Basketball. You have to recruit better players but how do you convince a Top 100 high school senior who makes an immediate change to come to Tampa when you your attendance is lacking?

MH :

LH : I’m going to toot my own horn for a second. I was the only media member in the country that predicted the USF football team to have double digit wins. I said 12 and was only light by one. Did you see the same success I did in August from the Bulls on the gridiron?

MH :

LH : Looking at this upcoming football season, there’s an old coaching adage that, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Bulls offense is was juggernaut in 2016 and would score 30 points by mistake. If Flowers stays healthy, I expect the Bulls to set numerous offensive records this season. Are you of the same opinion that all Coach Strong has to concentrate on it improving the defense?

MH :

LH : I came out right after the Big 12 refused to expand, which I feel is a huge mistake on their part, that if the Bulls have anywhere near the season I thought they would we would see Coach Taggert move on to, literally, “greener” pastures. When did you see this was a distinct possibility?

MH :

LH : When Coach Strong became available, did he go right to your short list of candidates to replace Willie Taggert as head coach?

MH :

LH : Simple question but maybe the hardest of the session. Why Charlie Strong?

MH :

LH : I hate to even bring this up but, at any other Division I campus in America, you would be the hottest ticket in town with 11 wins. If you win, they will come just hasn’t worked at USF. After a year where you were the winningest college football program in the state, which is no small accomplishment in Florida, and a realistic preseason Heisman trophy candidate in Flowers, how do you get 60,000 plus fans to come and watch the Bulls?

MH :

LH : Overall, your women’s program has been successful. What are the women’s coaches doing right to advance their specific programs?

MH :

LH : I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask, as my last question, when we have this conversation again in 2027, will there be an on campus football stadium?

MH :