After reading the numerous articles on the state of the South Florida Football program & thoughts on Skip Holtz, I decided to reflect & drop some knowledge on Fans, Students, & Alumni:
Back When: 2004
After transferring from Florida State in 2004, I arrived on campus feeling like I never left Tallahassee. Why? Because everywhere on campus all I seemed to see were students adorning Florida State, Florida, & Miami gear. Did I mention that almost NO ONE sported South Florida Bulls gear? At first it didn’t bother me, but as time passed it began to get under my skin. As my irritation level grew & patience wore thin, I made the point to go out of my way to call someone out for even bringing another schools gear on campus.
Andrew Aubery. I met Andrew Aubery after rushing SigEp in the Spring of 2005. Andrew has always been a dedicated South Florida Bull down to the minute details, sandals & all! He relentlessly razzed me for not scrapping my Florida State license plate & other miscellaneous ‘Noles items. Andrew led the movement in my peer group to switch to USF license plates, apparel & most importantly an attitude of aggressive school pride. Andrew represented the exact transformation in mentality our university desperately needed: Alumni & Students truly BLEEDING Green & Gold.
Levitt: 10 Years & 10 Days
Jim Levitt. Levitt was hired in 1995, welcomed his first recruiting class to campus in 1996, & began FCS play in 1997. Did I mention the South Florida Football program started in a trailer? Did you know Levitt was heavily courted by the University of Alabama before spearheading the Bulls fledgling program?
By September 16, 2007 Levitt’s Bulls cracked the Top 25 for the first time in school history, reaching #23 in the AP & #24 in the Coaches Polls; this feat was accomplished in just 11 short years. To be precise, Levitt catapulted the Bulls into the national spotlight & BCS rankings in just 10 years & 10 days.
On September 28, 2007, in front of the first sell-out crowd in South Florida history, Levitt led the Bulls to the program’s biggest win to date over the then #5 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. The following afternoon the Bulls had climbed all the way to #6 in the AP & #9 in the Coaches Polls. The Bulls never relented just like their leader & by October 14, 2007 the Bulls trailed only the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Anyone want to remind me how long our #2 ranking lasted? That’s what I thought. The Bulls fell to the one & only Rutgers Scarlet Knights 30-27 the following week in NJ.
Holtz: Win or Lose United we Stand!
It’s easy to point fingers & admittedly I was part of the problem on Saturday night after the loss to Temple. Twitter was on fire calling for Holtz’s head, not to mention the Facebook pages & websites that began to popup left & right. Believe me, I don’t think Holtz deserved a contract extension but beating your own program to a pulp after being the driving force that built our national following is downright unacceptable.
Holtz has an impact on our university both on & off the field, most notably in the classroom. For the first time that I can recall our Football team is earning accolades for rising GPAs & graduation rates. Tampa Bay Times columnist Gary Shelton published an article yesterday titled “USF Bulls Bringing Up the Rear in Big East Football that literally regurgitated everything that’s been aggravating me over the last few days. But, what I took from the article was something different than even I anticipated. Here’s a quote from Coach Holtz after Shelton asked ‘just how good of coach are you’:
“If you judge by wins & losses, then I’m not very damn good. I’m not going to sit & try to argue these numbers. I’m not going to try to sell them & make them look pretty. You can dress up a pig but it’s still a pig. If you judge by the health of the program, the academics, the character of the kids….give me time & I think I can give you a better answer. The guys we brought in are freshmen & redshirt freshmen. I’d at least like to be here long enough to see them shave.”
Performance on the field matters, but it isn’t everything. Anyone want to tackle the issues in the Miami Hurricanes program? Didn’t think so. We MUST, I REPEAT, WE MUST stand united behind ALL of our athletic programs, players, coaches, & most importantly our alma mater.
Hats off to you Mr. Aubery for never giving an inch when it comes to your pride in our university & relentlessly BLEEDING Green & Gold!!
by Matthew Manuri
Publisher & Editor, SoFloBulls.com | @Mcknurkle
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