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USF coaches’ views on the West Virginia game

Men’s basketball coach Stan Heath

Stan Heath became the eighth men’s basketball coach in USF history on April 4. During the past week he has witnessed the South Florida campus completely change into a sports hotbed.

Heath is hoping the enthusiasm carries over to the men’s basketball team during his first season.

The amount of support the students have shown the football team is something Heath didn’t expect but is happy to see.

With all of the attention placed on football right now, Heath felt the Bulls’ success will help every program on campus.

Oracle: What’s the atmosphere on camps been like?

Stan Heath: You can sense the buzz. When I went into my office on Sunday you can see the students all around the Sun Dome waiting in line, staying all night long to get their tickets. That’s what you want and it creates a lot of excitement. I think it’s flowing all over to all the student athletes.

O: Have you been to any games this year?

SH: Every one. I’ve never been in a pro-football stadium – it’s beautiful. From the first game to the second game, I’ve been really impressed with the student section, to see that area all filled up.

O: Will the interest in football carry over to basketball?

SH: Football is really a lightning rod for all of our sports to feed off the enthusiasm that is being created right now. It’s great to be on campus right now.

O: Do you bring recruits to the football games?

SH: Definitely. We bring them to the games and they can see the atmosphere, and from what I gather it should be a whole new level Friday. No doubt about it (I’ll be there), and we’ve got a lot of key people coming.

O: Has the support been different than you expected?

SH: I didn’t really have any expectations. But once I got here and I had a chance to talk to Doug Woolard, he shared with me the hope he had for all of our teams. He felt good about all the coaches that are in place and has really made athletics a fixture here.

O: What’s your prediction for Friday?

SH: Oh Bulls, the Bulls, man. How can you root against them?

Baseball coach Lelo Prado

Baseball coach Lelo Prado spent 11 years as the head coach at Louisville before joining USF for the 2006 season.

Prado sees many similarities between the two programs.

O: What has the atmosphere been like on campus?

LP: This reminds me of when Louisville got on the map. We had a Thursday night game against Florida State and we beat them at home. The program took off after that. I feel that our program is right there – if not ahead of that one – at this time. If we can build on this we’re going to have 62,000 at every game and it’s going to be good for all the sports. I went to the volleyball game the other day and it was packed. Same with the soccer games I’ve been to.

O: Will the interest in football carry over into baseball?

LP: Absolutely. It happened where I came from and we’ve got a bigger student body here and more potential than Louisville ever had. We’ve got the potential to be even better in sports and academically, and I see this thing taking off and making us into one of the best universities in America.

O: Have you been to any football games this year?

LP: I attend every one of them. I tell you right now the student section here is a lot better than Louisville. They’re crazy and (athletic director) Doug (Woolard) is going to have a tough time finding more tickets. It’s a great problem to have. The student body doesn’t understand what this does to student athletes. When we had great crowds against Central Florida and Florida, all our guys did was talk about the student body. We need them and it’s crazy. I got here six o’clock Monday and I was shocked.

O: Do you bring recruits to the football games?

LP: We’ll have the top recruits there Friday. We’re bringing in 11 kids and seven have already committed. They’ve turned down Clemson, LSU, Miami, Florida and people like that. When they see 62,000 people in the crowd they’re going to be shocked at what they see and the excitement that’s in the town. Everyone dressed in green is going to bring great excitement out there and the students have been doing an unbelievable job. I’ve been gone 11 years and you couldn’t find a USF flag (then), but you see them everywhere now.

O: Do you have a prediction for Friday?

LP: No doubt about it, USF is going to win and I think it’s going to be a great game. The crowd is going to decide it, and with the student section going crazy, I think that’s going to be the difference.

Jose Fernandez – Women’s basketball coach

O: What has the atmosphere on campus been like?

Jose Fernandez: I’m going into my eighth year here as the head women’s basketball coach and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s great to see the amount of excitement, not only from the student body, but the community. It’s great for the University. It’s great that we’re getting the national recognition.

O: Will the interest in football carry over to basketball?

JF: No question; this kind of excitement is going to roll over into the other sports. Our marketing right now has been the best it’s been during my eight years here at USF.

O: Have you been to any games this year?

JF: I didn’t make the Elon game because I was on a family trip for Labor Day weekend. But I was there for North Carolina and I’ll be there Friday before I leave for recruiting on Saturday and Sunday. I rarely miss any football games.

O: Do you bring recruits to the football games?

JF: We usually try and tie in football games to our recruiting weekends because there’s so much going on. You get a better feel for the college atmosphere.

O: Do you have a prediction for Friday?

JF: I’m not much on predictions, to be honest, but I think our team is going to be very well prepared. There’s going to be a great atmosphere and we’re going to be just fine.

George Kiefer – Men’s soccer coach

O: What has the atmosphere been like on campus?

George Kiefer: I think it’s great to see people camping. This is going to be thought of as something very, very special. People in college athletics understand that you need to have a big time football team in order to really grow an athletic department. I’m very thankful that that’s happening.

O: Will the interest in football carry over to soccer?

GK: It’s huge, especially when the games are on television. We’re constantly telling our recruits to watch the games on television and they’re at home watching USF football. It’s something we can talk about and it really, really helps us build what we’re trying to build here.

O: Have you been to any games this year?

GK: We actually had a few recruits there Saturday. We do a lot of recruiting off (of) football – it’s a huge benefit to us.

O: Do you have a prediction for Friday?

GK: Do I have any? I would never do that to Coach Leavitt. He might throw me out my window.