The University of South Florida is an anomaly among Floridian institutions of higher learning — the football program is only 7 years old.
When measured against other state staples, such as Florida State, Florida and Miami, USF is the proverbial toddler who still wets the bed. But with a 9-2 season and some outstanding play against Houston Saturday, there’s a chance the toddler could play with the big boys, either in Detroit at the Motor City Bowl or in the Hawaii Bowl.
But will they? That remains to be seen.
There are a bunch of reasons why USF won’t be selected to travel to snowy Detroit or sunny Hawaii. The main reason from which all others stem has to do with history. USF is a totally unknown commodity in the big business of bowl games. Teams are responsible for filling bowl stadiums, for bringing a certain number of supporters with them and for traveling well. USF has no record on any of this. Chances are, half of Tampa and the USF campus might get on a plane on Christmas Day and follow the Bulls to the biggest game of their burgeoning career. But chances are also that they won’t — that USF will storm the field, and there will be 200 to 300 people wearing green and gold and yelling at the top of their lungs.
Should USF be given the chance to go to a bowl? Undoubtedly. With a 9-2 record, and the two losses coming from Oklahoma and Arkansas, the Bulls have more than proven their mettle this season. And more frustrating for USF supporters will be the state of other teams who will be given the bowl berths. It is highly likely that whoever plays in Detroit or Hawaii could have losing records. For a team that played an almost impeccable season, that’s a slap in the face.
Speculation abounds. Will they or won’t they? The fact of the matter is USF deserves to go. And while that consolation won’t keep them warm, at least it may take the sting out of a national rejection.