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Holtz and Eriksen form positive image for USF

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012

Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 02:07

ORACLE FILE PHOTOS/JASMINE ABNEY AND APRIL STRATEMEYER

ORACLE FILE PHOTOS/JASMINE ABNEY AND APRIL STRATEMEYER

Thanks to the strong reputations of both Skip Holtz (left) and Ken Eriksen (right), USF is on the path to becoming a nationally known and marketable athletics university.

In college sports, gaining a national image has become the key to sustainable success. Though winning a national title aids in gaining that recognition, a school, and by extension its coaches, needs marketability.

Though relatively new, USF has jumped to the forefront of the athletics landscape, thanks in large part to the marketability of its coaches. With a softball coach that has led the country to dominance in international softball, and a football coach whose father has forged a path for his own reputation, the university has begun its ascent to the status of a major athletic college.

In the span of one week, USF softball coach Ken Eriksen led the U.S. national team to its seventh consecutive World Cup of Softball, and football coach Skip Holtz accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament. Though neither story came from their work at the university itself, their connection to the college will reflect positively on the USF athletics landscape.

“I’m really looking forward to this,” Holtz said in a press release after accepting a spot in the tournament. “It will ... give me a chance to continue to spread the word about what’s going on at USF and the good things taking place in Tampa. It should be a nice couple of days.”

Holtz’s goal at the tournament is not to simply play as the son of college football legend Lou Holtz. He understands the importance of a larger stage and should use it to continue to improve the image of the university and its athletics department.

The star power on the sidelines has already begun to pay dividends in the form of recruiting, mainly in the incoming football class. Holtz and the football staff have formed a strong 2012 recruiting class, led by four-star recruits D’Vario Montgomery at wide receiver and Sean Price at tight end.

Led by the charismatic Holtz, the Bulls have become a recruiting threat in a competitive football state.

In Eriksen’s case, a historic run to Oklahoma City with the Bulls barely scratched the surface of his illustrious resume. Already a well-known name in college and international softball, Eriksen was honored in June with a spot in the Olympic Hall of Fame, thanks to his role on the 2004 U.S. softball team, which ripped through the Olympics, outscoring opponents 51-1. Eriksen was an assistant coach on the 2004 team, and has since taken over as head coach.

In his time with the U.S. national team, Eriksen has worked with the biggest stars in the softball landscape, while also garnering recognition for the university across the nation. Having a coach double as the leader of the national team is a marketing luxury few schools can boast.

Led by the national recognition of Holtz and Eriksen, USF has begun to gain the athletic marketability that is vital to becoming a mainstay in the college sports landscape. With famous faces leading the way, USF is on its way to turning the famous Florida “Big Three” of FSU, UF and Miami, into a “Big Four.” 

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