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USF’s football team will defend a national ranking for the first time Saturday.

The Bulls will take the field before what promises to be the biggest student section in the team’s history. Administrators added 4,000 seats to the section, which will make it among the largest in the country.

Imagine the home field advantage of having 12,000 students backing their Bulls as they take the field, cheering, chanting and then standing silently like zombies brainwashed into jamming their fists in the air as the band blares behind them.

Having this many student seats positions USF second in the Big East for student seats available, just 500 below West Virginia.

As it now stands, Raymond James Stadium has more room for students than the University of Arizona’s Arizona Stadium (10,000), South California’s Los Angeles Coliseum (9,000) and the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium (7,000).

Rather than inspiring a ruckus song that unites fans and raises arm hairs on Dale Mabry, USF’s current tradition has fans saluting the gods of heavy metal, while seemingly mindlessly circling a fist with their pinkies and pointer fingers jammed toward the heavens.

This hardly seems like a viable salute to the football team, which by gaining national attention not only became the second youngest team in history to receive a national ranking, but is steadily increasing the value of USF students’ degrees with every high-profile win.

Nor does it fit the spirit of the fans who, though only 3,500- strong several weeks ago, cheered raucously enough to quiet 80,000 Auburn fans nearly two weeks ago as the Bulls pulled out an overtime upset.

It seems – as explained in a letter to the editor that ran in the Oracle Sept. 9 – that the fans of the War Eagle nation skipped their tradition of singing the Auburn alma-mater because the small contingent of USF fans were too loud.

This kind of devotion deserves a fight song à la Notre Dame’s “Victory March,” Auburn’s “War Eagle” or the University of Michigan’s “The Victors.”

Granted, USF has a young football program and lacks the longstanding traditions of these schools, but fans can learn from their example by establishing game-day traditions – traditions that can be passed from student to student and eventually from alumni to their children.

By working toward tradition, the football team can help USF shed its commuter reputation. Maybe then USF can graduate to an image that inspires spirit among its population and draws young talented scholars from across the country who happen to like hot climates and football.