Not quite the way I remember

John Cotey

GUEST COLUMNISTSt. Petersburg Times

Dear current USF students,

I hate you.

No, I don’t know you, per se. And quite honestly, you might be fine people, what, with a new national-championship-contending football team to play around with and all.

That’s pretty much why I hate you.

You don’t deserve this.

I do.

Back in the old days, we suffered. We suffered for you, the next generation. As a kid, I had to endure the spanking belt. As a grown-up, I had to endure the Sun Belt. To this day, I’m not sure which is worse. They both left scars.

Sure, we had football back then, just like you. We played it with flags around our waists. Your precious little walk-ons were just really good intramural players back then. That Greg Auman guy at the Times gets to go to some decent games, but did he ever have to interview an intramural player from a fraternity and get a quote belched at him?

Didn’t think so.

Did you have to go to Homecoming in February? February, for God’s sake! Did you ever sit through the most mismatched concert in history, some 1950s band whose name escapes me opening for Kool and the Gang? True story.

Of course not, you spoiled brats. You’re lucky I don’t get USF grad Gallagher to pop you one with a sledgehammer.

Yeah, I’m talking to you, sitting in the back of class sleeping because you’re still hung over and exhausted from all your cheering and drunkenness and fun at the UCF game.

A nice win – sure. But until you’ve seen Radenko Dobras drop 3-pointers on Tulane, you ain’t seen a rivalry, buster. And by the way, I was man enough to not fall asleep during class after that game. Come to think of it, I felt pretty well rested afterward, as if I had slept through the game.

Hmmm … well, never mind, that’s not my point.

My point is this: you didn’t invent the whole body-painting thing. Puh-lease. Dude, I was so green and gold back in the late 1980s for all the biggest games – who can forget those hoops showdowns with the University of Tampa -and once, I think I even got on the local news.

And the viking helmets with the horns on them? Those were hilarious – when I wore them all week the year USF went to the Final Four in men’s basketball. Didn’t know about that, now, did you? Don’t believe me, call the NIT and just ask them.

The whole tailgating thing? Yeah, real innovative. Been there, done that, pal. A couple of my fellow Oracle writers filled a cooler with tasty liquid refreshments the time FSU, which was ranked No. 1 in the country, by the way, came to Tampa and we got toasted. Yeah, that’s right, I said FSU, and I said No. 1 in the

country. (I’m still not sure why college softball tailgating never really caught on.)

Devoting your lives to getting football tickets and camping out is cute and all, but sleeping overnight in front of the Sun Dome is old hat for some of us. You call it Leavitt-Town. We called it not making it all the way back to the dorm on $1 pitcher night.

Same difference.

USF did exist before football, just so you know. I have proof, because I was here at the Oracle, writing cross country profiles and covering the heck out of volleyball. Ever hear of volleyball? Yeah, just what I thought. You might want to check it out.

Everything now is Big East this and Big East that. Oh, how soon they forget the transition from Sun Belt to the mighty Metro Conference. Or was that Conference USA?

Both? Well, whatever.

Those were heady times, people, back when the only place you could even find a USF shirt was at the University of San Francisco bookstore. Now, you’ve made them so popular I can’t afford one.

It irks me because you haven’t paid your dues, quite frankly. None of the 65,000 of you at Saturday’s game have – sucking up every ticket so guys like me had to stay home and watch on TV. So not cool, and I still haven’t gotten the green body paint out of my couch, so thanks for that.

In the name of Jesse Salters, you guys sure jumped on the football bandwagon quick. And I thought I was bad the time I started the Mark Keil Fan Club after the former Bull tennis star upset Pete Sampras in 1991 (on grass, by the way), but you wouldn’t know about that because USF athletics didn’t exist until the night the Bulls beat West Virginia.

Explain to me how you’ll find all kinds of football references on the USF Wikipedia page, but no Gary Alexander? Bobby Russell? Fred Lewis? You guys have ESPN and blogs and Web sites to get info from. We had radio. Please tell me I don’t need to explain what a radio is to you guys?

What the Mark Chung is going on here?

Listen, what I’m trying to say is this: anyone can cheer at a West Virginia football game and yell at two Heisman Trophy candidates to fumble the ball. But try getting fired up enough to get Southern Mississippi’s Clarence Witherspoon to miss a couple of key free throws in a huuuge Sun Belt tilt by referencing his sister and a mule.

Not easy. Neither was finding a parking space back then. It’s called true love, folks. Just to go to USF, we had to endure endlessly circling parking lots and waiting hours on end for spots to open up just to attend classes.

OK, so some things haven’t changed.