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.