TAMPA, Fla. — The University of South Florida fired football coach Charlie Strong after losing against UCF Saturday for the third year in a row.

USA Today reporter Dan Wolken reported staff members at USF were being told about Strong’s departure Sunday afternoon.

The firing comes after the USF Bulls ended their season losing 34-7 against their rivals at UCF.

A team source at USF confirmed to CBS Sports Strong had been fired after a hard year. The Bulls finished 4-8 overall. 

In 2016, Strong signed a five-year contract for $9.8 million. It's not known what Strong's buyout would be. 

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.

University of South Florida Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said the school would start a national search for a new coach immediately.

“I would like to thank Coach Strong and his staff for their hard work and contributions to our program,” Kelly said. “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.

“I met with our student-athletes and staff today to inform them of my decision and to make clear USF’s commitment to a championship-caliber football program that recruits and develops student-athletes and provides the resources and support for them to achieve great success in competition, in the classroom and in the community.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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