TAMPA, Fla. – To say Alex Golesh has a unique background among college football coaches would be a great understatement.
After all, the 38-year-old head coach at USF was born in Russia. His family moved to the U.S. and settled in Brooklyn before moving to Ohio, where Golesh played high school football and planted the seeds for a career in the college game.
He spent the past two seasons as Josh Heupel’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee, having followed Heupel from UCF where Golesh was the co-OC in 2020.
Led by quarterback Hendon Hooker, the Volunteers lead the nation in total offense this season with an average of 538 yards per game. Ironically, he is taking over a USF program that finished its season at the bottom in the FBS in yards allowed with 517 per game.
“I’m excited to be back in the state of Florida and work with the great high school coaches in this state,” he said in a statement issued by USF on Sunday morning. “This program will have an identity both offensively and defensively, and with special teams. We will be the most aggressive team in the country, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.”
Recruiting is something with which Golesh, a finalist for the Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant, has an outstanding track record. He served as Matt Campbell’s recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at Iowa State from 2016 to 2019. It was a time of unprecedented success for the Cyclones, who were noted for having the four highest-ranked recruiting classes in their history.
Golesh was also a recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at Toledo from 2009 to 2011 at a time when Campbell was the Rockets’ offensive coordinator. Golesh was instrumental in putting together what was regarded by at least one outlet as the MAC’s top recruiting classes in 2010 and 2011. He spent the next four seasons (2012-15) as the recruiting coordinator at Illinois while serving as an assistant with multiple offensive position groups. He then reunited with Campbell in Ames.
“He is a dynamic coach and recruiter who is relentless in pursuit of excellence, as evidenced by his outstanding track record of elevating numerous programs,” said USF athletic director Michael Kelly. “He also happens to be one of the most creative and successful offensive minds in college football.”
Golesh, who arrived in the U.S. at age seven and, according to a couple of published accounts of his background, did not know a word of English. He played high school football in Dublin, Ohio, and got his first job at the collegiate level as a student assistant at Ohio State in 2004.
Golesh takes over for Jeff Scott, who went 4-28 in two-plus seasons before he was let go on November 6.