The Bulls football team announced five new additions to their future schedule and four subtractions to this year’s roster.
Schedule USF finalized a six-game series with the University of Miami, renewing the match-up Sept. 26, 2009, at Raymond James Stadium. The remaining four contests will be played during future Thanksgiving weekends.
“Through a lot of work we’ve been able to schedule Miami for five years straight, three times in Tampa,” Coach Jim Leavitt said. “To me, that’s one of the most powerful moves that has ever happened in the history of our program because it’s not like it’s two games there and one game here … I am excited as I can be about it.”
The Hurricanes won the first game of the series 27-7 on Oct. 1, 2005, at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
The series will alternate between Miami and Tampa, with the Hurricanes serving as host in 2010 and 2012 and traveling to visit USF in 2011 and 2013.
Along with the opportunity to play one of college football’s elite programs on an annual basis, the series expects to be among the biggest draws to ESPN’s Thanksgiving Day Weekend packages.
“We have always shared a strong desire with Miami to make a long-term series happen, and at the same time ESPN has expressed it has a strong desire to have rivalry match-ups like this one available for its Thanksgiving Weekend selections,” USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard said. “We think this is a great game for fans of college football.”
The announcement of the series rearranges previously scheduled dates with Florida and Indiana. Originally, the Bulls were slated to travel to Gainesville in 2010, but that game has been pushed back to 2015, while Indiana’s visit to Tampa has been delayed from 2011 until 2016. Roster Changes Running back Ricky Ponton’s troubled tenure with the Bulls has come to an end.
After missing the first six games last year for violating team rules, Ponton and strong safety Danny Verpaele have been declared ineligible for the 2007 season.
Ponton has been granted his release from the University and will transfer to another school, while Verpaele will remain at USF.
Ponton was expected to join Moise Plancher, Mike Ford and Ben Williams as the primary backs for USF. During the 2005 season, Ponton served as the primary backup to Andre Hall, and last year he rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries against North Carolina during his first game back from suspension. Verpaele, listed as the starting safety during USF’s spring drills, is a big loss for the team. The junior was expected to fill the void left by Jeremy Burnett’s departure to the Minnesota Vikings.
After an impressive freshman season, Sporting News listed Verpaele as a third-team Freshman All-America in 2004, but a foot injury cost him the 2005 season. Verpaele returned last year to appear in all 13 games, intercepting one pass, forcing a fumble and tying for fourth on the team with six passes broken up. Verpaele now has only one year of eligibility remaining, in 2008.
Kicker Mike Benzer has left the team to focus on academics and linebacker LeBrandon Glover will transfer.
Coach Jim Leavitt and other USF officials had no comment on any of the former players.