Following Devon Davis’ interception during Louisville’s possession in double overtime in Saturday’s 31-28 Bulls victory against the visiting Cardinals, one could feel the momentum change in USF’s favor, making it hard to believe victory wasn’t inevitable.
But there was another feeling in Raymond James Stadium between that play and when Santiago Gramatica lined up for a 26-yard field goal attempt to give the Bulls the win.
And it was the same feeling the fans must have felt during last season’s game against Bowling Green at RJS.
It seemed inevitable in those final few seconds before Gramatica drilled the winning kick that the fans that filled RJS were going to storm the field to join in the victory celebration. After all, it probably was the most dramatic Bulls’ game played at RJS, certainly the most dramatic game this season.
But when fans began pouring over the north end zone wall to storm the center of the field and mobbing anyone wearing a green football jersey, the question that came up was: Was running onto the field to celebrate warranted?
“It just shows us, as a team, that (the fans) are behind us 100 percent,” senior wide receiver Huey Whittaker said. “I think if somebody wants to show they appreciate (the team), then they should show it.”
Yes, appreciation for the team. That could be the reason for the fans storming the field. But then again, the fans showed their appreciation throughout the game. And they did it from the stands.Storming the field to celebrate with the team has perhaps evolved to include too many types of wins. Shouldn’t the storm-the-field-type celebration be saved for a win that is truly a “big win?”
“It was a big win because we fought; we came down on that last drive and scored,” Whittaker said. “We put the ball in the end zone with two fourth-down (conversions on the drive) and won in double overtime.”
Yes, the victory against Louisville could be classified as a big win, especially for a program in just its seventh season. It also was the first Conference USA victory at home, and the opposing team was undefeated.
But what happens this Friday if the Bulls defeat TCU, a nationally-ranked undefeated team? Not to mention the fact that this game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 and that the winner will be tied for first in the conference.
Should fans storm the field two weeks in a row?
“If it happens two weeks in a row, that’s because it’s two big wins in a row,” Whittaker said.
“I personally don’t have a problem with it,” junior wide receiver Brian Fisher said. “The running on the field, that’s more for (the fans). We appreciate our fans, and that’s a big strength for us at home, and if (running on the field is) what they want to do, then let them do it.”
“I don’t think too much about it,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said. “It just gives (fans) a chance to get a little exercise and stretch their legs and get some conditioning, so that’s probably good.
“(But) every win is a big win, to me. You only have 11 games, and if you win a game, (then) that’s an honor and you’re fortunate.”
So if every win is a big win, should USF fans storm the field after each Bulls’ victory? If that’s the case, where was everyone when USF defeated Nicholls State at home earlier this season?
“I don’t think there is a big deciding factor between the big wins and the small wins, or whatever you call them,” Whittaker said.
But there is a big factor. The simple fact is that USF fans need to recognize when it’s appropriate to storm the field. Yes, the Louisville game was significantly dramatic. And Louisville was undefeated. And the school is known throughout the country.
But the Cardinals weren’t ranked. And they weren’t on top of the conference.
But TCU, this Friday’s opponent, is ranked. TCU is tied for second in the conference with USF. This game is on national television.
So if the Bulls do win Friday, will fans storm the field? Should fans storm the field? Or was the opportunity to storm the field in a situation that warrants it wasted during Saturday’s on-field celebration?