For the last several years, USF has had a flourishing student body and an empty student section at most football games.
Many students cite the losing record or the 20-minute drive as reasons to go elsewhere on their weekend break from classes.
The time for excuses is over.
Despite a rocky start at the beginning of last fall — USF began the season 1-3 — the Bulls ended strong, winning seven of its final eight regular season games and becoming contenders at the Miami Beach Bowl in December.
“Our guys are highly motivated to go out there and leave no doubt this year and get it done,” coach Willie Taggart said this week at practice. “We embrace the expectations … Those have been our goals since day one, and it’s pretty cool that everyone else is starting to believe in that.”
Student Government provides free rides for students to the games and also joins several student organizations in offering all-day tailgates complete with games, free food and drinks, and televisions.
Students can easily avoid both the hassle of the drive through abysmal traffic and the cost of parking by taking the bus from campus. If you’re paying $91 for a student parking pass for the fall, dishing out an additional $15 to park at Raymond James at home games probably isn’t high on your list.
But unlike at many other major universities, USF student tickets are free. There is practically nothing standing in the way of students attending games except the students themselves.
Student Body President Chris Griffin and Vice President Alec Waid are also offering students an unexpected incentive to show up to games. Griffin tweeted Monday if the student section is filled during any home game this season, he and Waid will get lip tattoos reading “Go Bulls.”
“We wanted something that would be pretty shocking and incentivize people to go to the games,” said Griffin. “Plus, lip tattoos will go away eventually; But it’s still exciting and will get people talking about it.”
Griffin’s tactic, while extreme, exemplifies the passion he and Waid have for this university. It would be refreshing if even a fraction of the student body shared that enthusiasm.
Nothing is more embarrassing than having other teams arrive to play in front of a nearly empty stadium. Attendance directly correlates with pride. If you’re proud of your school, show up.
Last season, two weeks into our winning streak, a total of 15,175 people attended the home game against SMU, according to the Tampa Sports Authority. In 2007, 61,664 people attended the USF vs. No. 5 West Virginia game in what is inarguably our best game to date.
Attendance has been in a downward spiral ever since.
It is anticipated that USF will have another winning season, and this year we are scheduled to compete against in-state opponent FSU on Sept. 24. USF announced in an email Tuesday that only students who attend the first two home games will be eligible for priority tickets for the highly anticipated contest, further encouraging students to start becoming regular attendees.
While attendance will still more than likely pale in comparison to the number of available seats, this season may well be the year students start to take pride in their university and show up to games.
Either way, after the FSU game, Griffin will more than likely be headed to the tattoo parlor as students hopefully flood the stands to cheer the Bulls to victory.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.