By Fred Goodall / Associated Press

TAMPA — Charlie Strong is accustomed to high expectations.

But the situation is a little different for him at South Florida. He isn’t building or re-building a program in his first season. He is trying to lead a talented Bulls team to another level.

The Bulls could be on the verge of something special. The former Texas and Louisville head coach leads a USF team coming off a school-best 11-2 finish under Willie Taggart, who left for Oregon last December.

But this isn’t just about what happened last year.

The Bulls’ No. 19 preseason ranking in Monday’s Top 25 poll matches the highest in school history. And after being ousted by Texas after three tumultuous seasons, Strong relishes the challenge USF presents.

“What we have to understand is it really doesn’t matter where you start. It’s where you finish,” Strong said, adding the challenge is to do everything it takes to ensure the Bulls remain among the nation’s elite at the end of the season.

The Bulls also made some AP poll history on Monday by joining the No. 3 Seminoles, No. 17 Gators and No. 18 Hurricanes in becoming the first quartet of schools from the same state to be ranked in the preseason poll since 1958, when No. 8 TCU, No. 11 Texas, No. 17 SMU and No. 20 Texas A&M were listed.

The only other instance was in 1952, when No. 8 California, No. 13 Stanford, No. 16 USC and No. 18 UCLA all made the initial list.

Strong was a long-time assistant at Florida before landing his first college heading coaching job at Louisville.

He understands that in order to be at or near the top when the dust settles, his Bulls need to make a strong bid for USF’s

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