As the academic year draws to its bitter end and the land of collegiate sports heads toward hibernation, Bulls fans in need of a pick-me-up can look no further than my cheap knockoff of a David Letterman top-whatever list. While there is a general consensus that the students of USF don’t attend nor get excited about Bulls athletics, I think it’s only appropriate to attempt to generate some buzz for the upcoming fall.
Number 5: There is a possible quarterback controversy on the horizon.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. The spring game was horrible; if Julmiste and Severino are going to be chucking the rock, then there is no controversy here. We might as well just let Andre Hall throw the ball; the rest of the team will be on his back anyways.
Wrong. Bulls fans did not get a chance to look at quarterback prospect Courtney Denson; a transfer from Auburn will likely be at the head of the footrace. Now, throw into the mix a couple of stellar quarterback recruits and you’ve got yourself a nice QB goulash. With incoming freshman Matt Grothe, who was Class-4A Player of the Year and a finalist for Mr. Football, and Carlton Hill, who had 2,635 yards in total offense and a total of 32 touchdowns running and passing as a senior.
Number 4: We’re digging USF volleyball.
Anyone else catch that pun in the title? For all of you who think this is a stretch at No. 4, think again. The USF volleyball team fielded a young squad last year in Claire Lessinger’s first season as head coach. While the Bulls posted a 9-20 record, they had an excellent winning percentage at The Corral, going 7-11 at home.
USF returns every player from last year’s roster, including senior Flavia Silveria, who was ranked third in C-USA with 4.18 kills a game. The Bulls also added four stellar recruits in the off-season and will look to respond with senior leadership in their first season of Big East play.
Number 3: Women’s basketball is on a tear.
Coming off the best season in program history, the USF women’s basketball team loses only three players, including senior guard Anedra Gilmore. The Athletic Department locked up Jose Fernandez for the next five years, and he has responded by recruiting some of the nation’s best players. Besides having All-American honorable-mention Jessica Dickson on the squad, the Bulls have already signed up two of the states top prospects in Stephanie Sarosi and Caitlyn Mitryk. Both players are still juniors in high school but have already verbally committed to the growing program. With the transition to the Big East, prospects will love the chance to play for an up-and-comer like USF that will take on teams like Notre Dame, Boston College and perennial powerhouse UCONN. The Bulls gave UCONN a run for its money this season, taking the Huskies to their first-ever overtime game at Gampel Pavillion. With top-quality prospects on the rise, an upset may be brewing. Fernandez has not set his sights low either. He fully intends to make the NCAA this year after back-to-back WNITs.
Number 2: UCF travels to Raymond James.
The UCF Knights take on USF in the second game of the 2005-06 football season. Plan on Ray Jay to have a packed house — hopefully more Green and Gold — full of students and alumnus from both schools. This is the first time the two teams have met on the gridiron and it looks to be one heck of a game. USF will be fresh off a game at Penn State and hungry to defend home court. UCF could possibly come in touting the nation’s longest losing streak, depending on the outcome of its game against South Carolina. USF stud running back Andre Hall will open his final season as a Bull and look to hammer into the trenches after averaging 6.5 yards a carry during the 2004-05 season.
And finally Number 1: The beast of the Big East.
USF will look to take its athletic program to the next level when it transfers from Conference USA to the Big East. Besides playing in a BCS football conference, the door is open for the Bulls to play upper-echelon teams on a yearly basis. Tampa Bay is the 13th-largest media market in the country, and grabbing a spot in one of the nation’s best conferences will likely boost revenue and get the Bulls more media attention. With Louisville making the jump to C-USA as well, the Big East will represent two teams that garnished BCS bowls last season. The Big East is by far one of the best conferences in men and women’s basketball. UCONN recently won three consecutive national championships in women’s basketball, along with the UCONN men’s team taking the crown last season. Playing schools in this conference automatically improves the RPI of our basketball programs.
The Big East puts USF on the map; now which direction will it go?