The USF football team has yet to make its regular season Conference USA debut, but the Bulls are already getting their share of the perks that come with conference affiliation.
Out of 11 games this season, USF will be televised live in six, including three nationally televised games on ESPN or ESPN2. Also, USF will have three home games televised, two nationally, for the first time in the program’s history.
“National exposure for our football program is crucial to our growth strategy,” USF athletic director Lee Roy Selmon said. “We’re excited that our seven-year-old program will now have three national television appearances.”
USF’s first appearance on national television was a 31-14 loss against Oklahoma last season on TBS.
The Bulls originally were scheduled to have two games televised nationally, with three more being televised on Fox Sports Net. However, ESPN2 decided Aug. 18 to pick up the Bulls’ home game against Cincinnati on Nov. 1, as long as the game could be moved up to Friday, Oct. 31.
Selmon and the program agreed to accommodate ESPN2 by moving the game, which is USF’s Homecoming, one day forward.
“This is a decision we weighed carefully and sought the input of our Homecoming Committee, our Alumni Association and our administration,” Selmon said.
The addition of the USF-Cincinnati game gives C-USA a league-record 12-game national television package with ESPN. In total, the conference will have a minimum of 25 games televised on four different networks, with each conference team making at least one national television appearance.
“We are pleased that we are able to capture a national television audience for this game,” C-USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky said. “We also appreciate both schools’ cooperative and timely responses to the conference’s request to reschedule the game.”
USF’s other national television appearances are Saturday at Alabama and Oct. 10 at home against TCU, both on ESPN.
“I think it’s good,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said. “I’m wondering if ESPN is showing our games because of who we’re playing and not because of us.
“But to have three games on ESPN in your third year of (Division) 1-A football is probably unprecedented.”
The ESPN2 decision to air the Bulls against the Bearcats prompted FSN, which was originally set to air the game, to pick up the Oct. 25 road game against Southern Mississippi, giving the Bulls their sixth television appearance.
The other games on FSN are Oct. 4 against Louisville and at Memphis on Nov. 29.