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USF Football Coach Charlie Strong Addresses Accountants and Auditors at Annual Accounting Circle Conference

By Keith Morelli

Charlie Strong in front of audience

TAMPA (May 18, 2018) -- Amid the presentations on Securities and Exchange Commission rules, federal tax reforms and cryptocurrencies, Charlie Strong stepped up to the podium and talked to a room full of accountants and auditors about team building and the importance of character and leadership.

The University of South Florida head football coach entering his second year spoke candidly about team success at the annual Accounting Circle's CPE Conference, attended by more than 500 accountants, auditors and managers in the Marshall's Student Center's Oval Theater this week. He drew on his own experiences coaching Division I football at three universities, often making points by sharing personal stories about the young men he mentored along the way.

Strong took time off his busy schedule preparing the Bulls, who went 10-2 last year, for the upcoming season to be the keynote speaker at the conference. He is the fourth head coach in the USF football program's history and his résumé includes coaching teams at the University of Louisville, the University of Florida and the University of Texas.

His talk centered on team building and he used examples of overcoming adversity by instilling in players the concepts of teamwork and leadership.

"The higher the challenge," he said, "the greater the need for teamwork."

That lesson extends beyond the football field and is applicable in the world of business, even among accounting and auditing businesses.

"No one person can go it alone," he said.

The conference offered accounting professionals the chance to keep current on industry trends. Attendees filled the Oval Theater over two days hearing from Strong and 16 others talk about various aspects of the profession. Attendees could fulfill continuing professional education requirements, which are needed to maintain their Certified Public Accountant license.

"With interesting and informative talks on topics ranging from cybersecurity and blockchain to the latest developments in tax laws and accounting standards, the 2018 Accounting Circle CPE Conference was a great success," said Uday Murthy, director of the Muma College of Business's Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy. "Participants found the speakers to be thoroughly engaging."

The annual conference ended Friday. Proceeds from the event benefit accounting students, faculty and programs. Typically, proceeds from the conference provide more than $90,000 in scholarships and other support.

Strong, who led the Bulls to a third straight bowl appearance, finishing the 2017 season ranked No. 21, spoke candidly about his team-building, leader-molding methods.

"It's really the attitude that makes all the difference," he said. That and, of course, effort.

It's important to keep team members in constant development, he said, while instilling a proper attitude. Ineffective team members must be removed or moved somewhere else where they are a better fit, he said. That, at times, may be the most difficult task a manager has to undertake.

"Success," he said, "is the result of perfection, hard work, patience, persistence, sacrifice and respect for authority."

The success of his players extends beyond the gridiron, he said. When he is recruiting, he tells parents that all his players will not only become better football players, but they will experience success in the classroom as well. He guarantees parents their sons will graduate. And he makes sure that happens.

"If he (the player) doesn't go to class, he's going to run," Strong said. "If he doesn't go to the tutor, he's going to run. He's going to find that classroom, I guarantee you that."