Cultivating a team atmosphere has been an instrumental part of turning the Bulls around from last season’s 2-10 record.
Coach Willie Taggart attempted to let the Bulls display their team pride on the field for the upcoming season when he lobbied last week to put “THE TEAM” in the place of players’ names on the football jerseys this season.
After pictures of the mock-ups made it onto social media, however, USF quickly squashed the idea, realizing the new jerseys did not fit regulation.
Under NCAA regulations, only military service academies are allowed to replace players’ names on jerseys with different words such as “honor, integrity, etc.”
But Taggart was not deterred by the rejection of his plan, instead deciding to remove last names entirely from the jerseys with nothing in their place.
Despite the change in plans, Taggart said he still believes the new jerseys will promote a team-first attitude.
“I’m not disappointed that it didn’t work out, it’s the rules,” Taggart said. “Our goal this whole offseason was to come together as a team and we’re still going to have the team mindset by having no names on the back of the jerseys.”
While Taggart was unaffected by the failed plan, he was impressed with how popular it became and how quickly people started talking about the Bulls.
“There’s no loss here; apparently it got a little bigger than we thought it would,” Taggart said.
Even though the Bulls won’t be able to display their unity through their apparel this fall, Taggart said he believes his team-focused mentality has already taken root among players.
Over the offseason, Taggart added a pool table and pingpong table to the locker room to encourage competition and team bonding.
Taggart said he recalls walking in to the locker room to see a defensive tackle playing pingpong with a kicker.
“I think a big part of it is just them getting to know each other better,” Taggart said. “I see guys hanging out with guys they don’t normally hang out with.”