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Fans quick to call for change in Athletics

Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 01:01

Softball manages to fill about half the stadium on average, baseball not as much. The women’s basketball team barely fills a quarter of the Sun Dome, if that. Soccer draws a slightly larger crowd in relation to the size of the field and golf doesn’t receive a whole lot of attention from fans at all.

So when fans say USF Athletics needs a do-over and is a bust, what are those fans referring to?

These teams still produce successful seasons. To say USF Athletics is failing the students would be absurd in that sense.

But back to football, seeing as that’s what some really care about.

Raymond James Stadium has been full of empty red seats for the past few seasons, but last season was an all-time low. It seemed as if after Week 1’s loss to McNeese State, granted it was a bad one, some fans just gave up.

Home field is viewed as an advantage for a reason and USF was far from reaping the benefits. Homecoming attendance was barren to say the least. Through the first six of the seven home games, even USF’s average announced attendance, or number of tickets distributed per game, was 35,752 fans, though higher than the conference average, this is the lowest total in seven years according to an article in the Tampa Bay Times.

If fans think a 2-10 record is embarrassing, the attendance should have been equally as embarrassing. A 2-10 record with packed stadiums game in and game out would be something that demands respect from any school at the very least.

Is it fair for some fans to expect a winning football team in that environment?

This isn’t to say fans are to blame for the lack of success from football. The decisions of USF Athletics when it comes to football have been questioned since the firing of Jim Leavitt, the team’s first coach. There were fans who called for the firing of Skip Holtz, the next coach, and their wish was granted. Now it’s Coach Taggart’s turn along with a completely new staff.  

And while “change doesn’t happen overnight” doesn’t seem like an acceptable excuse, Taggart’s last 2-10 record was when he first took over as head coach for Western Kentucky. He was 7-5 in his next two seasons. Though not exactly perfect or bowl game worthy, it may be wise for fans to give Taggart at least another season before grabbing pitchforks and marching up to the Lee Roy Selmon Athletic building and demanding USF Athletics clean house.

In essence, calling USF Athletics a “complete disaster” is extremely hasty and overall untrue. It’s a two-way street and both fans and Athletics need to be in the same car — or bus as Taggart would say. It can’t be fans against Athletics if success is the goal.

Wins bring fans, that’s how sports work for the most part and it’s understandable. So does football need to deliver in that department? Yes. Does USF Athletics as a whole need to? Not necessarily.  

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Thu Jan 23 2014 09:49
The Coaches of both mens Basketball and the Football team make more then the University President
Tue Jan 14 2014 16:02
Woolard and Genshaft are the two biggest reasons why our sports programs suck.
Mon Jan 13 2014 12:55
Jim Leavitt was the winner. The fans are the losers
Wed Jan 8 2014 11:34
Invest in the WWE !
Wed Jan 8 2014 10:48
It is time for Doug to retire. USF needs to go to somewhere like Louisville and hire the Assistant AD. USF and Tampa Bay have always been a community that will support winning but they are not going to just blindly go to games for no reason.

There are other reasons that football has struggled. The policy change to only allow automatic qualifiers has been DISASTEROUS for getting talent on the football field and to a lesser extent basketball court (remember Austin Waverly who is playing at Oregon). Until Doug changes this policy Coach T and Coach Heath are going to have an uphill battle. Although I think Coach Heath has done a great job so far.

Wed Jan 8 2014 00:32
Wed Jan 8 2014 00:28
As a member of the alumni association I was going to leave a comment, but all I can do is say ditto to the one already left.
Wed Jan 8 2014 00:08
USF Athletics is a money pit that has been sucking cash for years.

Stick a fork in it's done

Tue Jan 7 2014 23:30
Go and check the American Athletic Conference website. The best any USF sport did was 4th. Most all finished in the bottom half of conference. That is the definition of mediocrity. Facilities are nice. So are wins. Where are the conference championships? Where are the end of season top 25 rankings?
Tue Jan 7 2014 22:20
Go and check the American Athletic Conference website. The best any USF sport did was 4th. Most all finished in the bottom half of conference. That is the definition of mediocrity. Facilities are nice. So are wins. Where are the conference championships? Where are the end of season top 25 rankings?
Tue Jan 7 2014 18:44
Is Doug Woolard ghost writing now under the name of Adam Fenster for the Oracle? Must need the money for landscaping at his island getaway or for the boat cleaning boy that works on his yacht. USF through its students/parents, fans, and donors has paid DW a kings ransom for some minor Title IX sports success. He was more successful in these "minor" sports, that do nothing but drain the athletic $$ coffers, when he was a Billiken. That's where he should have stayed, he doesn't know how to run a FBS athletic department and we are in significantly worse financial shape as a result. Give him an apple and a roadmap.
Tue Jan 7 2014 14:52
Let's be honest, the REVENUE sports are the ones that will put USF in the national spotlight...
Tue Jan 7 2014 12:16
You've a right to your opinion and one can understand why you'd have the one you do, considering you're a student at the school and not someone who is spending tens of thousands of your own dollars as a direct contribution to USF athletics. When you put the kind of money and time into USF sports that the average fan and booster have, you demand something for that sacrifice. You suggest that calling USF athletics a "complete disaster" is hasty. The opposite is true. It has been a disaster for many years. The only possible way one can draw that conclusion is if they had a short view of the situation. It IS a complete disaster and is has been ever since Lee Roy Selmon left the building. You tout golf and softball as big accomplishments for the program, as if anything the athletic department has done has made that possible. USF is in a golf rich region of the country with an on-campus golf course that existed before anyone in the athletic department management were around. Your position is obviously one to support management, which is a complete failure. Once you are spending tens of thousands of your own dollars to support athletics, your tune will change. Once you're out in the real world, working in a real job where there are consequences for your own failures that you will be held responsible for, your tune will change. You'll start to see that the school is being bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for inferior performance and that our students are subsidizing that travesty. You'll see that you'll get fired for the kind of failures that this management team has been responsible for. This demand for change of management is NOT hasty, it's been a growing storm for years. If ever you want to know where you stand in the world, check your peers. USF is the ONLY school in the Big East to not win a share of the conference title in football. That's despite having the second best average attendance and typically being in the top three in recruiting in one the most talent rich regions of the entire country. No coaching job is easy, but good football at USF is MUCH easier than it is at any other school. Louisville and Cincinnati came to the Big East with USF. Cincinnati has won a share of about five conference titles and appeared in BCS games. Louisville won a basketball national title the same year they won the Sugar Bowl against Florida. Those are USF's peers and the comparison is an embarrassment. That success has REAL value. Louisville is joining the ACC, a conference in the playoff system. USF is in the shameful reorganization of CUSA that USF created and promotes as a big deal, much to the humiliation of real USF fans. UCF will always have one up on USF from now on because they won several conference titles, including the first AAC title and their first BCS game. USF? Golf? Softball? Are you serious? Football and men's basketball are the sports that matter. That's not to take anything away from the student athletes who work hard for the other teams they play on, either. It's a simple matter of fact, though. Even a humiliating ten thousand fan attendance average in football would blow away the fan base of any other USF sport. So, when seriously trying to make a defense of USF, remember that you can add up the interest of all of the other sports, including men's basketball, and you still won't come close to the interest in football. Here's another important thing to note related to one's limited life experience; choices. USF boosters and fans have choices. We don't have to support USF athletics. We can support BCS National Champion FSU or multiple national champion UF. We could even support Miami, if we could accept the immorality of doing so. So, here's the point that you and everyone in that school's administration needs to get very clearly: USF athletics NEEDS us. We don't need USF athletics. If this horrible train wreck of a disaster that IS USF athletics is acceptable to the USF student body and you do not DEMAND change immediately, you deserve what you're going to get and do not expect the non-student fan base to continue to bail you out because we're already making CHANGE happen and it's starting with our wallets. The Capital One Mascot Challenge is a perfect summary of USF's failure. Seeing the athletic director and the school president grinning like proud parents, holding a check for $20,000 in a picture with Rocky says it all. Those folks are more interested in LOOKING good than BEING good. Do you know how far that small sum of money actually goes in the real world? The Iron Bulls I've been talking to spend $25,000 per year on USF donations. That check from Capital One is less money than private donors give to the athletic program. We don't even need to discuss the coordinated effort that USF had to make that happen. Ask around. It's not a well kept secret. The call for change is not hasty. It's past due. Check the actual attendance...

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